By: Text: Kathy Kitchens Downie, RD and Sally Squires
Water is the largest single constituent of the human body―contributing to at least half your body weight―but it’s “also a forgotten nutrient,” says Jennifer K. Nelson, MS, RD, director of clinical dietetics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. This essential nutrient (meaning it’s one the body can’t produce on its own) promotes healthy muscle, bone, and blood. Adequate hydration is even more important once you’re sick because fluids lost through sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose need replacing. “When you have a mild fever, your body becomes more dehydrated as a result. So drinking plenty of fluids is probably the first line of defense,” Nelson says.
Water, coffee, tea, and juice, as well as water-filled foods such as fruit, vegetables, soups, and stews all count toward daily hydration needs.