8 cups of water a day keeps the doctor away

Most college students drink anything but water. Juice, soda, coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages are among the top favorite drinks. This leaves water, the second most essential element for life, at the bottom of the list.

The human body is made up of 70 percent water. All of the vital body’s processes, including digestion, circulation, assimilation and waste elimination, take place in water solutions. Experts rank water second to oxygen as essential for life.

The average adult needs about 64 ounces (8 cups) of water each day, but consumption can also be accomplished by substituting a variety of foods and other beverages.

Nancy Smith, a registered Dietician at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s Diabetes Center, said it is very important for college students to drink lots of water.

“A lot of people drink high calorie beverages such as juice, soda, and lemonade to quench their thirst,” Smith said. “The good thing about water is that it doesn’t contain any calories.”

Although they are liquids, coffee, tea and soda contain caffeine, which is a diuretic. Diuretics increase the flow of urine.

These beverages also contain calories that have to be digested, that may produce extra fat storage, that swing in blood sugar levels, and may slow down digestion.

“Water is also good for digestion, and even though this may not pertain to a lot of college students, constipation occurs from not drinking enough fluids,” Smith said.

Some beverages contain chemicals added for color, flavor, and preservation. This may increase acid secretion in the stomach and irritate the delicate stomach lining, thus requiring the liver and kidney to detoxify and dispose of the waste. Drinking water is the only way to eliminate this problem.

According to The Exercise Company, a personal training health club in Washington, for every cup of coffee, fruit juice, soda, or tea a person drinks, they should add one extra cup of water to their day. The caloric and sugar content in each beverage can cause the body to attempt to dilute them with water it uses from other areas of the body.

Gamal Prather, 21, a senior mechanical engineering student from Cincinnati, drinks about a gallon of water a day.

“I also read the back of the labels on cartons for the calories,” Prather said. “I found out that Juicy Juice is from another concentrate, but I would rather want those type of calories than the calories from sodas.”

Smith added that diuretic drinks are not good to quench one’s thirst, because it causes frequent urination.

“Now, drinking sugar-free Kool Aid and Crystal Lite Lemonade can be equivalent to drinking 8 cups of water a day, because it doesn’t contain caffeine,” she said.

“But I encourage college students to carry bottled water with them during the day. Especially, if they are exercising. And even though everyone’s body is different, if some people do not drink water, it may lead to a bladder and/or kidney infection.”

George Pinkney IV, 21, a senior business education student from Hawthrone, drinks about five glasses of water a day.

“After I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I started drinking more water,” he stated. “I used to drink sodas 5 times a day too, and water once a day, but I know if I wanted to live a healthier life, I must continue to drink water.”

Bear in mind, some water supplies have been chemically contaminated. If an area has unsafe water, residents can protect themselves by installing a filtering system. Most people face more health hazards from not drinking enough water than from water contamination.

Pinkney added all he drinks is distilled water, because there are no extra additives. He believes the other brands of water have extra minerals and chemicals added to them for taste.

Water is quite possibly in its purest form when distilled. Distilled water has been heated to the boiling point so that impurities are separated from it and become steam or vapor.

It is then condensed into pure liquid form. The impurities remain in the residue that is simply thrown away. Distilled water contains no solids, minerals, or trace elements.

Jennifer Snowden, 18, a sophomore business administration student from Washington, drinks water because it cleanses her system and keeps her from getting dehydrated.

“I do not consume a lot of sodas or juices, because I normally only have water in my refrigerator,” Snowden said.

As temperatures rise, so do chances of dehydration. Fluid replacement is essential before, during, and after any kind of exercise. The body still requires two to three quarts of water a day, even if there is no physical activity.

Neglecting to drink the proper amount of fluids can produce symptoms ranging from nausea and fatigue to heat stress. Many people lose excessive amounts of water through sweating when exercising, and fail to drink enough fluids to replace it.

Waiting until the body is thirsty to drink fluids is not a good idea. The body does not signal thirst until well after it begins to become dehydrated. The key is to drink as much fluid as possible.

By drinking the proper amount of water, anyone can reap the benefits it has to offer.