Getting Enough Fluids

Why are fluids important?

Fluids are important in our diets because our bodies are 50 to 60 percent water. Our body’s need for fluids is second only to its need for oxygen.

Fluids are any food that is liquid at room temperature, such as water, juice, ice cream, sherbet, or gelatin dessert. Fruits and vegetables (in the form of juice) also are good sources of fluid.

Fluid does many things in our bodies, including:

  • Helping in the digestion of food
  • Carrying needed nutrients within the body
  • Helping to control body temperature
  • Carrying waste material from the body

Drink Eight Glasses of Fluid Each Day

A healthy person should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid each day.

These fluids can be taken with meals and/or between meals. Drinking a full cup of fluid with medication or vitamins can also help you get the needed daily amount. You can include other types of fluid in your diet besides water, such as:

  • Juice
  • Popsicles (one Popsicle = 4 fluid ounces or 120 cc)
  • Ice cream (one scoop = 4 fluid ounces or 120 cc)
  • Soda
  • Milk
  • Decaf coffee
  • Decaf tea
  • Soup
  • Gelatin dessert (like Jell-O)

Coffee, tea, and soda that have caffeine cause your body to lose fluids quickly. So, if you drink regular coffee and tea, you are actually receiving only 50 percent of these fluids that you take in. Decaffeinated beverages will help your body obtain more fluid.

If you are trying to increase calories, good sources of fluids include:

  • Sweetened juice
  • Gelatin dessert
  • Sweetened juice drinks
  • Ice cream
  • Sherbet
  • Popsicles
  • Lemonade
  • Milkshakes
  • Liquid nutrition drinks (like Boost or Ensure)

If you have diabetes, or if you are trying to lose weight, good sources of fluids include:

  • Water
  • Sugar-free soft drinks
  • Unsweetened tea or coffee
  • Fruit-flavored drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners
  • Sugar-free desserts
  • Fat-free broth (if following a salt-free diet, use salt-free broth)
  • Fruits and vegetables (worked into your meal plan)

What happens if you don’t get enough fluids each day?

You may become dehydrated (dee-HI-dray-ted) if you don’t get enough fluids each day. Common symptoms include:

  • Dark urine
  • Urine with strong odor
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Fever

Even when you don’t feel thirsty, your body still needs fluids. You can become dehydrated and not realize it. Remember that you need eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid each day to stay hydrated.

When You Need Extra or Limited Fluids

There are times when your body needs extra fluids to function well. These include:

  • When you have a fever
  • When you have diarrhea
  • When you are vomiting
  • When you are constipated
  • When you have just finished exercising
  • During hot weather
  • In dry climates
  • When you have wounds that are healing
  • When you are trying to prevent bedsores

Your body may need limited fluids if you have:

  • Swelling due to heart problems
  • Swelling due to lung and kidney problems

Check with your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have any questions about extra or limited daily fluids.

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