Clearly, keeping your body well hydrated is crucial for healthy function. However, it can be difficult to determine just how much water you should actually consume each day. Conflicting advice recommends everything from drinking only when you feel thirsty to suggesting you down a gallon of water each day. Read on to explore various recommendations on water consumption and decide for yourself the amount of water you may need on a given day.
9. How Your Body Uses Water
Water is a major component of every cell, organ, and tissue in your body. Water aids in digestion, circulation, and temperature regulation. It flushes toxins from your system, invigorates your muscles, and keeps your skin strong and supple. Water also keeps your joints and lungs lubricated for easy movement and breathing. This critical fluid keeps your eyes, mouth, and respiratory tract moist. As a component of your blood, water helps deliver oxygen to tissues. Furthermore, water aids in maintaining proper blood pressure. Without adequate water, you may become lethargic, suffer headaches, and endure painful muscle cramps.
8. The 8×8 Rule
One common suggestion for water consumption is the 8×8 rule. This rule refers to drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Guidelines for water intake have not been set by the FDA or CDC. However, Dietary Reference Intakes recommends 91 to 125 ounces of water each day. These recommendations are not based on the consumption of plain water alone. Rather, they refer to dietary water obtained through both drinking water and eating foods that contain water. Following the 8×8 rule would provide an individual with 64 ounces of water each day on top of water obtained through food sources.
7. Hydration from Food Sources
Around 20% of daily water intake comes from food sources. Many fruits and vegetables are largely composed of water. This means that consuming the recommended daily quantities of fruits and veggies will provide you with hydration as well as nutrients. Vegetables that contain more than 90% water include cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, and zucchini. Cabbage, cauliflower, bell peppers, spinach, and broccoli also consist mainly of water. Fruits such as strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and tomatoes consist of more than 90% water. Current guidelines suggest consuming around 1 ½ cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day.
6. Drink to Quench Your Thirst
If you look beyond the chatter of “drink so many ounces” or “drink a gallon a day” of water, you may hear the quiet voice of reason. A study presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that drinking water is pleasurable when one is thirsty, and becomes disagreeable when one is not. This study suggests that thirst and brain chemistry are linked. Rules and regulations fall by the wayside when we realize that paying attention to our body’s cues will enable us to provide ourselves with the appropriate hydration.
5. Starting the Day with a Glass of Water
A valid recommendation for starting your day off right involves beginning each morning with a glass of water. If you routinely wake up thirsty, grab a glass of water first thing each morning to rehydrate your tissues. An added bonus to beginning the day with a refreshing dose of water is that it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Doing something good for your body immediately upon waking may induce you to continue to make healthy choices throughout the day. Immediate hydration may give your metabolism a jump start, promote mental alertness, and flush toxins and wastes through your kidneys.
4. Can You Overdose on Water?
While rare, it is possible to drink too much water. The Journal of Clinical Pathology notes that fatal water intoxication is most commonly linked to psychiatric conditions in which an individual compulsively drinks too much water. If a person consumes gallon upon gallon of water in a short period of time, the electrolyte balance in the body is thrown off. This can result in dangerously low levels of sodium in the bloodstream. Low sodium levels, called hyponatremia, can cause nausea, vomiting, brain swelling, and death.
3. Instances When You May Need More Water
Staying in tune with your body and drinking water when you are thirsty and stopping when you are satisfied should fulfill your hydration needs. In certain circumstances, you may need more water than others. If it is a particularly hot day, the air conditioning breaks down, or you are engaging in intense physical exercise, be sure to keep a water source close at hand. Additionally, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea can deplete your body of its water stores. Drinking additional quantities of water while suffering from a UTI will dilute bacteria in your bladder and help flush them from your system.
2. What About Sports Drinks?
The abundance of sports drinks and rehydrating beverages on the market may make you wonder whether you should be drinking more than just plain water. These beverages contain sodium, potassium, and carbohydrates in addition to water. While these drinks may be beneficial after a long and strenuous workout, for the most part, they do not have any great benefit over drinking plain water. In fact, they may contain large amounts of sugar and contribute to weight gain. At zero calories, plain water provides your body with the hydration it needs without the risk of packing on pounds.
1. What If You Don’t Like Water?
While nothing beats a cool glass of refreshing water when you are feeling thirsty, many individuals do not like the taste. If water doesn’t please your palate, you can still provide your body with the hydration it needs. Although caffeinated coffee is a mild diuretic, it is composed mainly of water. If you enjoy tea, there are a variety of teas you can sip and savor—just be cautious about adding sugar. Milk is also composed largely of water and has the added benefit of calcium. A slice of lemon or squeeze of lime in your water bottle may provide just enough flavor to keep you sipping throughout the day.