Drinking enough water is essential for your health. NBC Learn, in partnership with Centene Corporation, demonstrates how much water children should drink, how you can tell if you are drinking enough and what will happen if you get dehydrated.
Get Healthy -- Hydration
MORGAN RADFORD reporting:
Hey there, guys. I'm Morgan Radford and it's time to get healthy!
Did you know that your body is made up of about 60 percent water? That's a whole lot of water and it's really up to you to keep it inside your body. But you're constantly losing it. See, every time that you sweat, digest your food, or even breathe, you're really losing water. So you have to replace it, but many studies show that kids aren't drinking enough water. So, what's up with that? Because you have to have it!
Dr. JOHN TORRES: I'm Dr. John Torres an emergency physician and the NBC Medical Correspondent. Hydration means that you are getting fluid into your body. The majority of what we have inside of us is water and we need that water in order to survive. You have to get that from external sources, meaning, you have to drink it.
RADFORD: All right, so to keep your body hydrated, we're not telling you you have to go crazy and down one of these each morning. In fact some of the food you eat, like fruits and vegetables, they can help you stay hydrated. But your body must have water.
TORRES: Once you drink it, it goes into your intestine, it goes into your guts. And from there it goes into the body into all the cells. Once it gets done with the cells, it goes through our bloodstream and gets filtered out through our kidneys.
RADFORD: So exactly how much do you need? Just remember the number eight.
TORRES: Nine years old and above need eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. This is an eight-ounce glass. It's a very normal amount of water.
RADFORD: So, does that seem like a lot? Just pace it out throughout the day. But if you skip it, you could end up causing a lot of problems for your body.
TORRES: Every cell in your body uses water to function. If it can't get that water, that cell’s going to start shrinking, it's not going to work as well and this includes your brain cells. So what's going to happen is you’re going to start getting confused, you’re going to start getting a headache, your muscles aren't going to work as well, you might even start cramping up a little bit. As you get more dehydrated, that's going to get worse and worse. If you get too dehydrated you can get in a world of hurt
RADFORD: All right, so you don't want that! And don't think that you need less in the winter when you aren't sweating as much. Because you still need to remember "eight" to keep all those cells functioning.
So here's the tricky part. How can you be sure you're really getting enough water? Here are some tricks you'll be able to remember.
TORRES: The worst way to know if you're dehydrated is to wait until you’re thirsty because by then you are already dehydrated. One of the things you can do as you’re walking around is to kind of pinch the skin on the back of your hand. If when you pinch it and let go, it goes flat, then you’re fine. That means you’re perfectly hydrated.
RADFORD: All right, well, it looks like I'm doing pretty well. How about you? There is something else that you can do and it’s actually the most reliable. Just listen to this.
TORRES: Look at your pee next time you go to the bathroom. If it's really dark, I'll give you some examples here, that means you're dehydrated. So the pee gets darker because it’s more concentrated and that means that you need more fluids. If it's kind of middle of the road, that means you’re doing OK. You might want to push a little bit more fluids, drink another glass or two to make sure that you get it down to the point where it's this light yellow, and that’s what you want because that means you're perfectly hydrated, you're right exactly where you need to be.
RADFORD: Don't worry, that was just apple juice! But you get the point. So here are just a few things to remember to make hydration easier. Pack a water bottle and just put it in your backpack in case you don't have a water fountain nearby. And you may love those sugary drinks like soda, but drinking that much sugar a day could actually cause you other health problems. And nothing beats plain old water to make you feel your best. You also need to drink more when you’re outside in the heat, if you’re exercising or playing sports, make sure you drink that water. Your body and your mind will thank you for it!