Updated: Jul 28, 2021
Most people have heard the 8 cups a day rule and that is a good starting point. However, each person is different based on gender, exercise, weight and so on. Find out how much you should be drinking to be healthy.
The importance of water
We are approximately 70% water so it should be no surprise that we need plenty of it throughout the day to help maintain good health. Here are some ways water helps us:
· Helps in digestion
· Helps in transport of nutrients to the cells via the blood
· Reduces risk of developing kidney stones, urinary tract infections and keeps the skin hydrated
· Lubricates joints
· Gets rid of heat through sweating
A loss of water also affects the disc size between the vertebrae. This causes an inability of the disc to cushion like they should. Movement becomes difficult when the discs shrink too much to maintain the proper distance and connection of cartilage and vertebrae.
Signs that you are dehydrated
Quick weight loss
Dry skin that is hot to the touch
An elevated core body temperature
How to test for dehydration
We lose water throughout the day for a variety of reasons - sweating, urination, even talking uses water. The best way to see if you are dehydrated is to look at the first urine of the morning. It should look like pale lemonade. If it looks like apple juice or you produce a smaller volume of urine then usual, you did not drink enough water the prior day.
If you get up quickly from a seated to standing position and you feel dizzy or light-headed, you do not have enough blood volume (water) to deliver carbohydrates to the brain. You need to drink more water.
Where does the water go?
The average adult will eliminate approximate 2 ½ liters or 84 oz of water a day. About 1 ½ liters is through urine. The rest is sweating, breathing and bowel movements. Our breath is 100% humidified. That means every time you breath out you are losing water.
If you are exercising you are breathing and sweating more and you need to replenish that lost water. How much water do you need to drink? For each pound lost in physical activity you need to rehydrate by drinking 16-24 ounces of extra fluid. Take your weight before and after you exercise to see how much water you lost during that session. This is important as a 1-2% water loss during exercise decreases performance by 15-20%.
If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated because there is a lag. Also, the older we get, the less sensitive the thirst mechanism gets which means drinking more often is important.
Tips to get enough water
Drink a glass as soon as you wake up to replenish fluids lost during sleep
Have a glass of water before any meal or snack which also helps control appetite
Buy a 64-ounce container and fill it every day and keep it near your desk at work or the kitchen table at home, so you can see how much you are drinking
Eat high-water foods - food intake is about 17 oz of water a day depending on food choices. Fruits, vegetables, milk, and yogurt are 80-90% water