Water is essential to good health and our survival. It is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 50% to 70% of your body weight. Almost every process your body performs relies on water and every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly.
A lack of water leads to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Dehydration can affect our ability to concentrate, leave us feeling tired, cause dizziness, lose consciousness or even death. Mild dehydration can also drain your energy. Overall, water has a varied role in keeping your body functioning well, it:
- Transports wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
- Regulates body temperature
- Lubricates and cushions joints
- Protects sensitive tissues
- Is good for moisturizing your skin
How much water do you need?
Water is lost each day through your breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, it is important to replenish its supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
Popular advice recommends drinking eight 8 oz. glasses (“8 x 8” rule) of water per day perhaps because it is an easy rule of thumb to remember and a reasonable goal for most individuals. Fewer than eight glasses a day might be enough for some people, but others may need more. Overall, you can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever you feel thirsty. You can modify your total fluid intake based on a few considerations
- Exercise. If you do any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It’s important to drink water before, during and after a workout.
- Environment. Depending on where you live, hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional fluid. Dehydration also can occur at higher altitudes.
- Overall health. Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Drink more water or follow a doctor’s recommendation to drink oral rehydration solutions. Other conditions that might require increased fluid intake include bladder infections and urinary tract stones.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you may need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined, for healthy adults living in a temperate climate, that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- Approximately 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of fluids a day for men
- Approximately 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) of fluids a day for women
These recommendations include fluids from water, other beverages, and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food.
Its important to keep in mind that studies conducted over the years have resulted in varying recommendations. Your individual water needs depend on many factors, including your state of your health, how active you are and where you live. Generally, your fluid intake is probably adequate if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colourless or light yellow. Your doctor or dietitian can help you determine the amount of water that’s right for you every day.
No single formula fits everyone. But knowing more about your body’s need for fluids (for example, thirst is the body’s way of signaling to you that you need water) will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.
Other options for staying hydrated
You don’t need to rely only on water to meet your fluid needs. There are a lot of drink choices available to help you meet your daily water goals. Beverages such as milk, juice and herbal teas are composed mostly of water, and caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soda can also contribute to your overall daily intake.
Be cautious with overconsuming caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, colas, and energy drinks. Even though these types of drinks contain water, they can contain diuretics like caffeine and cause your body to lose water through more frequent urination.
It’s equally important to go easy on sugar-sweetened drinks such sodas, energy or sports drinks, alcoholic drinks, vegetable juices and other sweet drinks. They usually contain a lot of added sugars, sodium, and provide more calories than needed. Drinks like hot chocolate or specialty teas and coffees are also made with higher fat dairy.
Don’t forget about food as what you eat also provides a significant amount of water. For instance, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and spinach, are almost 100% water by weight.
Consider using a water app. There are lots of reminder and tracking apps available that can help you to hold yourself accountable to your water intake goals.
Make water interesting by adding flavour
Face it, the taste of water can become monotonous. Consider adding fruits and herbs to hot or cold water for flavour. If you enjoy having some fizz in your drink, try carbonated water. Here are some combinations try out:
- blackberries + mint
- raspberries + cucumber
- strawberries + fresh basil
- chopped apples + a cinnamon stick
- pear slices + a drop of vanilla extract
Here’s a Pro-Tip. To release the most flavour, crush the berries, chop, or tear herbs, or cut fruit into cubes.
Should I worry about drinking too much water?
Drinking too much water is rarely a problem for healthy, well-nourished adults. Athletes occasionally may drink too much water to prevent dehydration during long or intense exercise. When you drink too much water, your kidneys can’t get rid of the excess water, your body’s water levels rise, your cells begin to swell, and the sodium content of your blood becomes diluted. This is called hyponatremia and sometimes be life-threatening.
Depending on the cause of hyponatremia, simply cutting back on water may restore balance. Some cases may require intravenous electrolyte solutions and medications.
Ways to make water part of your daily routines
To prevent dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. It’s a good idea to drink a glass of water:
- With each meal and between meals
- Before, during and after exercise
- If you feel thirsty
- drink it hot or cold
- drink water with your meals
- ask for water with your food when eating out
- carry a reusable water bottle when you are out
- try a fruit and herb infused water
- drink water during and after physical activity or playing sports
- keep a pitcher of water in the fridge or on the table for easy access
At Centre of Alternative Therapies, we specialize in creating workable plans to help manage imbalances that can affect your daily life and overall health. Get on a path to healthier living by finding out what’s really going on by contacting us and working with one of our experts.