Water is essential for good health, but how much water should you drink a day?
Well, the answer cannot be uniformed because needs vary individually. Read the guidelines below to check if you drink enough fluids daily.
While this is no surprise, what might come as a blow is the statistics that 75% of the U.S. population falls short of the 10 daily cups of water prescribed by the Institute of Medicine. And this translates into the fact that most people in the U.S. are functioning in a state of chronic dehydration!
What does a water-poor diet bring about?
It brings wrinkled and dry skin, headaches, tiredness, extreme thirst, decreased urine output, chronic constipation, wooziness, even no tears when crying, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing. These are only some of the symptoms your body manifests when it is dehydrated and needs more water.
What about the usual advice to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day?
It may be the usual piece of advice, but, based on more recent founding, experts are now recommending that you go off of your body weight and activity level. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is about 1.9 liters, which isn’t so different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations (read them below).
Although the “8 by 8” rule isn’t supported by hard scientific evidence, it remains popular with folks because it is easy to remember and apply. Just keep in mind that the rule should be paraphrased as:
“Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” since all fluids count toward the daily total of water intake.
Yet, not everyone needs equal amount of water daily. Some experts are even claiming that the amount of water you need also depends on the place you live in.
So how much fluid does an average, healthy adult, who lives in a temperate climate, need?
It was determined by The Institute of Medicine that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (or 3 liters) of total water beverages a day. On the other hand, the AI for women is about 9 cups (or 2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.
How much water should I drink to lose weight and still stay hydrated?
If you weigh 160 pounds (80 kilos), you should drink between 80 and 160 ounces of water a day. If exercise (or intense physical effort) is not ‘cup of your tea,’ then you should stick closer to 80 oz. But if you exercise on a daily basis, you should be around 120 oz of water per day. The main reason for this is because, on average, a person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 liters (roughly 27.4-47.3 oz.) an hour during workouts.
You also lose water through your breathing, urination, and bowel movements. So, for your body to function properly, you must replenish the water lost by consuming beverages and foods that are high in water content.
Why our bodies need so much water?
The reason for it is because adult bodies are made up of around 60% water. H.H. Mitchel states that the lungs are about 83% water, while the brain and heart are composed of 73% water. The skin contains 64% water, whereas muscles and kidneys are 79% water.
So, neglecting water – something so dominant in our bodies – is like driving a sports car with minimum petrol. It is not common sense, right?
The health benefits of drinking the right amount of water daily:
- Water is a vital nutrient for proper functioning of every cell, and acts as structure material first.
- It regulates our body temperature through perspiration and respiration.
- The carbohydrates and proteins our body uses as food are metabolized and related to the bloodstream by water.
- It does the job of flushing waste, mainly through urination.
- Acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus.
- Water removes toxins from the body.
These are precautions to follow to ensure you drink enough water:
- Start by getting a water container you really like.
There are so many water bottles out there, so narrowing down what you want is the best course of action. I recommend getting a water bottle made of glass. Glass is a natural material unlike plastic, which is made from harsh chemicals such as BPA, phthalate, PVC, or polycarbonate.
Note well: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regarded glass as the only safe bottling material. Glass is environmentally-friendly, raw material, it is 100% recyclable, and it can be recycled endlessly with no loss in quality or purity.
On the other hand, once plastic is created, it can take from 500-1,000 years to degrade. Roughly 2.7 million tons of plastic are used each year worldwide for disposable drinking bottles, and only about 25% of the plastic used in the U.S. is recycled.
Another water-bottle to invest in can be a stainless steel bottle. There are no known health issues with stainless steel, and if you don’t want an easily-breakable glass bottle, this might be the best choice for you.
2. Start your day by having a water drink of 24oz, or more.
The best way to “cheer up your insides” in the morning is to have a refreshing intake of water. You can even warm up the water, and squeeze some lemon juice in it for more benefits! The lemon water aids digestion, helps you stay hydrated, is weight-loss friendly, provides a potassium boost, and a super-healthy dose of vitamin C. (Also read our article on lemon water on an empty stomach.)
3. You can mix it up and have coconut water!
The coconut water has a very high amount of potassium, and it has many naturally-occurring bioactive enzymes such as catalase, acid phosphatase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA-polymerases, etc.
In essence, these are the enzymes that help in the digestion and boost metabolism. So, drink a glass of coconut water next time you want to add a little flavor with extra benefits!
Allow the facts to speak for themselves, and try to drink more water to become more in-line with your body’s need. If using the toilet more frequently is the only problem that comes along with drinking more water, there is no good reason not to try! The benefits and overall better health are worth to make just a little change in your daily water routine.
So, although there is no single formula that fits all people, knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day. The chart below can certainly help you for a healthy daily water intake and will help you lose weight as well:
These are factors that influence water needs
You may need to change your total fluid intake depending on how proactive you are, the weather conditions you live in, your current health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups (400 to 600 milliliters) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon distance) requires more fluid intake. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of activity.
During long bouts of intense exercise, it is best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-endangering. Also, continue to replace fluids after you have finished exercising.
Hot or humid weather can make you sweat, so it requires additional intake of liquefied food and water. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Moreover, altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination, and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid stocks.
If you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. In some cases, your doctor may recommend oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade, Powerade or CeraLyte. You may also need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones.
Reversely, some conditions, such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases, may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.
Women who are pregnant (or breast-feeding) need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.3 liters) of fluids daily, and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters) of fluids a day.
Sources of water beyond the tap:
You don’t need to bank on only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. Daily food, on average, provides about 20% of total water intake. Lots of fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, cucumbers, spinach, are 90% or more water by weight.
Also, usual beverages like milk (and milk shakes), fruit juices and so on, are composed mostly of water. Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages [such as coffee, tea or soda] can contribute to the total amount of water, but these should not stay the major portion of your daily total fluid intake. Water is still your best dice because it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and abundantly available.
Staying safely hydrated
On the whole, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel an urge to quench the thirstiness, and your urine is colorless or light yellow — and measures about 6.3 cups (1.5 liters or more) a day if you were to keep track — your fluid intake is probably correct.
If you are concerned about your fluid intake or have medical conditions, check with your doctor. He or she will determine the amount of water that is right for you.
To ward off dryness and make sure your body has gotten the fluids it needs, make water your drink of choice. It’s very good to:
- Drink a glass of water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverage with each meal and between meals.
- Drink water before, during and after exercise.
Finally, although uncommon, it is possible to overdrink water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, that is in a condition called hyponatremia.
Endurance athletes, such as marathon sprinters, who drink large amounts of water, are at a higher risk of hyponatremia. Though, in general, drinking too much water is seldom in healthy adults and youngsters.
Water in the body is the principal chemical component, and makes up about 60% of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water! Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.
Lack of water leads to a condition called dehydration, which occurs when you do not have enough water flowing in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can exhaust your energy and make you feel drained. So don’t be frugal with your drinks of plain water or tonic water drinks!