- Drink up, America, because despite what
the experts have been telling you for years, you're not getting those eight
glasses of water a day. In fact, a new survey shows the average American
is downing just 4.6 glasses of water a day.
- Worse yet, we're drinking at least as
many servings of beverages containing caffeine and alcohol, which rob the
body of water by speeding up urination.
- Although two-thirds of the people responding
to a poll for the Nutrition Information Center at The New York Hospital
and the International Bottled Water Association said they are aware of
the 8, eight-ounce servings standard, only one in five respondents said
they drink that much water and one in 10 said they drink no water at all.
- On the plus side, people in the survey
said they do drink about eight glasses total of decaffeinated soft drinks,
milk and fruit juice each day, but combined with the bad stuff, "the
net result is that most Americans are probably only getting about a third
of the valuable hydration benefits they need," said Barbara Levine,
director of the nutrition information center.
- "Those people who drink iced tea
all day or a lot of beer at the ballgame are not doing themselves any good,"
she added. "And the situation is probably worse than the survey shows,
since people tend to underreport how much alcohol they're consuming."
- People have any number of good excuses
for not drinking enough water: not enough time (27 percent); don't feel
thirsty (11 percent); don't like the taste of the water (8 percent); forget
to drink it (7 percent); and lesser percentages who were concerned about
the lack of bottled water or the quality of tap water. Two percent said
they can't leave their desk or workstation to have a drink.
- Of course, Levine said she suspects that
people responding to the survey were less likely than her own patients
to admit another major reason for not drinking enough -- "they're
concerned about being able to get to the bathroom."
- And while people might boost their water
intake a bit during hot weather, the study found that more than a third
of Americans don't realize they need to drink just as much water in cold
- Water makes up more than 70 percent of
the body's solid tissues and, after oxygen, is the most important nutrient
we take in. Water regulates body temperatures, carries nutrients and oxygen
to cells, helps remove wastes, cushion joints and protects organs and tissue.
- In the short run, dehydration is signaled
by dry itchy skin, a headache or feeling tired and groggy when you wake
up (the body loses as much water asleep as awake) or during the middle
of the day.
- Chronic dehydration can bring on more
serious problems with digestion, blood pressure, circulation and kidney
- Although she can't pose any direct cause
and effect, Levine noted that 10 percent of the American population suffers
from kidney stones, with many of them clearly brought on by not drinking