How Much Water Do You Need Each Day
The human body contains 60 percent of water, and all of that water makes bodily functions possible. Without water, your body’s cells can’t grow, reproduce, and survive—without the cell cycle, our bodies can’t grow or recover from injuries and illnesses.
In this article, we share why it’s so important to stay hydrated and the health benefits of water consumption. We also discuss how other sources of water can keep you hydrated.
How Do I Stay Hydrated?
The amount of water you should drink depends on several factors, including age, body size, climate, level of physical activity, and possible health conditions. The American Journal of Physiology recommends that the average person drinks eight 8-ounce glasses of water on a daily basis.
However, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need 15.5 cups of water per day, while women need 11.5 cups of water. These statistics include fluids from other beverages and foods, which make up 20 percent of our daily fluid intake.
As a general rule of thumb, you should always drink water when you feel thirsty and when working out. If you sweat a lot during physical activity or live in a hot, dry climate, drinking more water replaces lost fluids from sweat and keeps your body hydrated. While you might want to drink a coffee before you exercise, or a sports drink during your workout to stay fueled, but water is one of the best beverages when you’re sweating and need to stay hydrated.
One of the best ways to drink water is keeping a large, refillable water bottle with you throughout the day. The bottle is within reach and reminds you to pause your activities to take a few sips. Many water bottles have technology to keep the water cool, like a metal insulation interior. For many, cold water is more appealing, and so investing in a water bottle with this technology could motivate you to drink more water.
You might also want to establish a cut-off point a few hours before bedtime. Drinking water before bed can lead to sleep disturbances, which can interfere with the time you spend in the deeper, restorative stages of sleep. However, if you feel extremely thirsty before bed, go ahead and sip some water.
Another way to stay hydrated is to sip water first thing in the morning, which rehydrates your body after resting for 6 to 8 hours of no liquid intake. It also wakes you up and fuels your brain so you’re more alert.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you can create natural flavoring by adding sliced cucumbers, berries, or herbs. These flavors can add pizzazz to your water without any added sugar.
Benefits of Drinking Water
Drinking enough water enables the body to work properly. Proper hydration regulates body temperature, protects sensitive tissues, lubricates and cushions joints, and improves weight loss.
Regulate Body Temperature
When we sweat, we lose water, but as sweat evaporates, our body temperature drops. This process is how the body maintains a consistent internal temperature. Drinking water can also replace the fluids we lose through sweating, which is why it’s essential to drink lots of water and make up for water loss, especially in a hot climate or after intense exercise.
Drinking plenty of water helps your brain operate at full capacity. The brain is 73 percent water, so staying hydrated ensures proper hormone production and neurotransmitter functions.
Lubricate and Cushion Joints
Cartilage, the elastic tissue padding your joints, is 80 percent water. By staying hydrated, cartilage can protect nerves and bones, improving shock absorption. Otherwise, you may be at risk for joint pain from long-term dehydration.
Drinking water in the morning can jumpstart your metabolism, a great benefit when you’re trying to lose body weight. Drinking water instead of sugary drinks can also help with weight loss. Sugar turns into fat, but by choosing water, you’re saving your body from those unneeded calories. If you don’t like plain drinking water, at least choose sugar-free drinks, like unsweetened tea.
What Else Contains Water?
As previously stated, 20 percent of your total water intake comes from other sources. If you’re worried about not getting enough water each day by drinking it, consider this chart for more ways to stay healthy and hydrated.
|Food or Drink||Water Content Percentage|
|Fat-free milk, tea, juicy fruits (strawberries, melon), vegetables (lettuce, cucumbers, celery)||90%-99%|
|Yogurt, fruit juice, fruits (oranges, apples, pineapple), vegetables (carrots, corn)||80%-89%|
|Bananas, avocados, cottage cheese||70%-79%|
|Pasta, beans, fish, chicken||60%-69%|
|Bread, cheddar cheese||30%-39%|
|Cereal, crackers, nuts||1%-9%|
Is It Possible to Drink Too Much Water?
It is possible to drink too much water, though this phenomenon is unusual. When you drink too much water, your sodium levels rise, causing your hands and feet to swell, producing headaches and nausea. Cutting back on water intake can fix this problem, but in rare cases, if you have worse symptoms, like dizziness or constant muscle pain, it could be a serious condition. Seek medical attention immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
In some ways, drinking tea can be better than water. Tea not only rehydrates the body as well as water, but it also contains flavonoids, plant chemicals with antioxidant effects. Flavonoids can help prevent cell damage, promoting good health.
If you’re dehydrated, you may experience more symptoms than just a dry mouth. Thirst is only one way the body alerts you that you need to drink more fluids. Other signs that you’re dehydrated include headaches, dry skin, and drowsiness.
Vitamins and minerals can also help you stay hydrated, including potassium, sodium, and magnesium. These electrolytes enable blood cells to hold onto water so that water can easily travel throughout the body. Some drinks are rich in electrolytes, like sports drinks.
If you’re not getting the daily recommended intake of water, you may experience mild dehydration. Common symptoms of dehydration vary depending on the situation, but most signs of dehydration include thirst, tiredness, headaches, dry skin, and bad breath. More severe dehydration symptoms, like fainting, may require a visit to the doctor.
To avoid the risk of dehydration, it’s important to drink plenty of water. However, if you’re tired of plain water, other beverages can keep you hydrated, including milk, tea, and coconut water. These drinks contain lots of water, but they also include vitamins and minerals to improve general health.
Maintaining proper hydration can lead to better overall health and reduce the risk of possible medical conditions in the long run. Your hydration needs depend on gender, climate, and physical performance, but for the most part, drink water anytime you feel thirsty. Choosing water over sugary drinks can also save you from gaining extra weight and sugar crashes.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.