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Greg Nieckula, D.O., internal medicine physician with CHI Memorial Internal Medicine Associates – Signal Mountain


One of the most overlooked health concerns for adults is inadequate hydration. The body is made up of approximately 60 percent water. It stands to reason that drinking adequate fluids is crucial to maintaining all your body’s systems – including your heart, brain and muscles. Water helps your body remove waste through urine, maintain a healthy metabolism and regulate body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. It’s easy to see why water is so critical to a healthy lifestyle!

The right amount of water is different for everyone, and it’s based on your age, gender, physical activity, medications you take, and the climate where you live. The general recommendation has always been 64 ounces a day, and that’s a good starting point. You’ll need more if you engage in rigorous physical activity in hot or cold weather, are sweating excessively, or have an illness where you are vomiting or have diarrhea. In these cases, more water is needed to replenish what you’ve lost.

Drinking water has other benefits beyond helping your body function properly. Adequate hydration has been shown to improve cognitive function and physical performance. Your body uses a lot of water during exercise. Staying hydrated before, during and after helps you perform you best. It also helps protect your body and muscles from harm. When your body has the water it needs, you’re less likely to be become fatigued, your endurance will improve and your heart rate will remain lower. What’s more, drinking enough water also helps ward of headaches frequently caused by dehydration.

Older adults are at a much higher risk of dehydration than any other population. There are a few reasons for this. As you age, the body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller. Older adults also experience a decrease in their sense of thirst, making it easier to forget to drink water or other liquids through the day. Especially for older adults, dehydration can quickly lead to fatigue, generalized weakness and confusion. As it progresses, it can also cause kidney issues and life-threatening complications.

That’s why it’s important to have an objective goal for the amount of water to drink every day and a visual reminder. Placing a pitcher of water on the counter every morning is a good way to remind yourself or a loved one that they need to drink, even if they don’t feel thirsty.

A good rule of thumb? Follow the 8 x 8 rule. That means to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid every day. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty – it’s your body’s way of saying it’s already low on fluids. Keep a reusable water bottle with you during the day and sip away. Your mind and body will thank you!

If you’d like to learn more about ways to make changes that improve your health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Nieckula by calling (423) 886-2004. 

Fluid-Rich Foods

You can also get water through the foods you eat. Choose these delicious options to boost your daily water intake.

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Soup or broth (choose low sodium)
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Plain yogurt
  • Tomatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Cottage cheese
  • Coconut water
  • Bell peppers  
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Karen Long
Media Communications Specialist 
e: karen_long@memorial.org

Doctor Talk, CHI Memorial's blog, focuses on health and welness.