Staying well-hydrated is very important for your kidneys. Proper hydration helps your kidneys balance all of the electrolytes in your body, such as sodium and potassium, and helps your kidneys get rid of all the waste products from food you consume that your body does not use. Furthermore, your body is made up of 70% water, so all of the cells in your body need water. Your hair, your nails, your skin—every organ requires significant amounts of water to perform all of the necessary normal functions.
How can I tell if I’m not drinking enough water?
If you are not drinking enough water, your body will let you know. Your lips may be dry, your skin may not feel plump, and you may feel more run down. You will also feel thirsty—that is your body saying, ‘hey stop, pay attention!’ It needs fuel to do what it needs to do.
What are the risks of not drinking enough water?
For children and people who have kidney issues, not drinking enough water can prevent their kidneys from performing the critical function of getting rid of unwanted products, and could lead to a hospitalization and other problems.
Not drinking enough water can also lead to kidney stones. If you have had one, you know that they are very painful. Back in the day before modern civilization, people didn’t walk around with bottles of water, but they didn’t eat all of the processed foods we eat. They did not have access to refined salt and sugar. With the advancement of civilization, all of the processed components in our food today make a lot more water necessary to prevent calcium buildup in our kidneys.
How much water should I drink?
The average adult and teenager should be drinking about two liters of water a day, unless they are eating a very pure diet—such as beans, vegetables and raw grains—all the time.
School-age children should aim to drink at least one liter per day.
Talk to your doctor about how much water to serve a very young child/baby. The risk of giving too much water to a baby who cannot communicate properly is very dangerous.
What are some tips for getting children to drink enough water?
Many children enjoy juice, so if your child is not at risk of being overweight, consider switching things up—give one glass of juice, one glass of milk, one glass of water, and so on. Consider cutting juice with water—because juice is very sweet, children typically do not notice when it is watered down. Staying away from sodas and other sugary beverages is super important.
Taking care of your body is so important. Sometimes, I find people know more about their cars or how their computer works than they know about their body. Just drinking a little bit more water can make you healthier and feel better.
Dr. Silva is the division head of Connecticut Children’s nephrology division.