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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 25, 2003

Numerous foods, drinks

By Amy Tousman

Q. I find it difficult to drink eight glasses of water a day. Can I count other drinks toward my daily water intake?

A. According to Nutrition News Focus newsletter, the idea that we need eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily and that drinks containing caffeine and alcohol don't count is an idea that has never been scientifically tested. There is little evidence to support it.

The idea of drinking eight glasses of water daily originated with the belief that many people lose about 64 ounces of fluid daily through urination, sweating and breathing.

The American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism published a review of studies of fluid intake in August 2002. Results showed that in thousands of adults, less than 64 ounces was consumed, yet participants were healthy. There are also dozens of studies that show our bodies are good at balancing the amount of fluid taken in with the amount excreted.

Some people may need larger amounts of fluid, especially those physically active in hot climates. This is something all Hawai'i athletes and weekend exercisers should keep in mind.

Many foods are full of water. Uncooked meat is two-thirds water. Most fruits and vegetables are 90 percent water. In addition there is water in juice, sports drinks, milk, soft drinks, coffee and tea.

Caffeine and alcohol are considered diuretics, meaning they increase urine production. Even so, the body uses much of the water in beverages that contain them. According to Ann Grandjean, director of the the International Center for Sports Nutrition, "caffeine may make you urinate quicker after being consumed, but over the course of the day, you will not urinate significantly more."

Signs you are getting too little fluid include urine with a strong odor or a dark color.

It is great that we can meet our fluid needs with a variety of food and beverages. If you choose items such as water, fruits, vegetables, 100 percent juice and skim milk, you also get a nutritional boost.

Amy Tousman is a registered dietitian at Straub Clinic & Hospital and a member of the Hawai'i Dietetic Association.