We’ve all heard that drinking water will help keep us healthy. But how much is really enough?
The experts have always said, on average, that eight eight-ounce glasses per day will suffice. However, that might not be enough. While eight is great, amounts really need to be tailored to meet the needs of every individual.
Most adults will lose between two to three quarts of water per day by way of normal body functions, but those who live in or work in warmer environments tend to lose more. Athletes for example, need to drink more water to balance their bodily fluids. For those people, drinking more water will make up for the bigger loss of water they had through perspiration, as well as in the regulation of body temperature.
Our bodies are made up of 55-70% water, but it does not replenish itself, so drinking water helps maintain that healthy balance. But even still, many will walk around dehydrated, most of the time unknowingly. That is because thirst is a poor indicator of dehydration. By the time someone gets thirsty, it is too late! Or, if one is thirsty, they may go for a beverage that does not actually replenish the body. A cold soda may feel nice going down, beverages with caffeine are not meant to hydrate. Water is the best remedy for dehydration. If mild dehydration sets in, it can decrease one’s energy level and mental functioning and increase stress on the body. Severe dehydration can have far more damaging effects. There are three important rules when it comes to drinking water:
- Drink twice as much as it takes to quench your thirst.
- Drink frequently throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
- Drink at least eight glasses daily, or one cup for every 20 pounds of body weight. For example, a 150-pound person who does not exercise or work in hot climates needs 7.5 cups.
While some fruit juices and green tea may account for some fluid intake, you can count out beverages such as coffee or alcohol. They have a mild diuretic effect, which promotes urination and therefore water loss, which ultimately defeats the purpose.
QUICK TIP: A trick to ensure people are drinking their daily allowance is to fill a pitcher or jug with the allotment of water and keep it on your desk at work, or handy at home. The goal is then clearly marked. As you drink down the water, you know that you are on the right path to drinking enough water.
Signs of Dehydration
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Decreased urine output
- Few or no tears while crying
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
Believe it or not you can also tell if you are dehydrated by observing your urine. The color of your urine can reflect how much water your body needs. The target color we want to have is clear or light lemonade color. This is a clear indication that you are drinking enough water. As soon as your urine turns bright to dark yellow it is a sign that you are entering dehydration. When the body feels it is not receiving enough water the kidneys begin to conserve water which makes urine more concentrated with waste products thus reaching a darker color. Thus, those frequent bathroom trips are not a bad thing!
Water hydration is essential for every aspect of your health so get in the habit of sipping water throughout the day. You may even find yourself more energized as you increase your water consumption. Healthy living is one of the most important improvements we can make upon our lives and definitely something to promote to all your loved ones. Support one another to make healthy and positive decisions together!