Approximately 60% of your total body weight consists of water. Water is life, and we need it for practically each and every bodily function. Not only does it transport nutrients to cells, and aid in digestion, but it also acts as cushioning for joints and flushes out toxins. Without sufficient water intake, the body can experience dehydration which may lead to dizziness, fatigue, confusion and even seizures in extreme cases. As we know, water is integral to everyday functioning, which leads to the question “how much water should we drink in a day?”. Different experts may set different requirements, depending on your size, health, diet, lifestyle, environmental factors and health conditions. Read on to find out how much water to drink a day:
Water is commonly referred to as the elixir of life. Here are the several health benefits it is responsible for:
Transporting oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body
Flushing out toxins from the body
Flushing out bacteria from the bladder
Helping in digestive processes and preventing constipation
Helping in excretion
Managing blood pressure
Acting as a cushion for joints
Retaining water levels in body composition
Providing protection to tissues and organs
Regulating the body temperature
Maintaining the sodium/electrolyte balance
There are various factors such as the climate and humidity levels, physical exertion levels, lifestyle, diet, sleeping schedule, health conditions, body composition (size, height, weight)that all impact hydration levels and requirements. So, if you are wondering “how much water should I drink a day?”, remember to factor in all these elements. Generally speaking, this is what the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends:
For adult women: 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day
For adult men 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day
The recommended water intake for children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions may differ. Water intake can be in the form of beverages like juice, energy drinks, tea, coffee and even food. On average, about 20% of our water intake comes from food.
As mentioned before, your fluid and water intake is contingent on several different factors:
Your hydration requirements will be more if you live in hot, dry or humid areas or at high altitudes.
If you consume a lot of caffeine on a daily basis, you can lose a lot of water through increased urination. Additionally, if your diet is high in spicy, salty or sugary food, or you don’t get a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, you may need to up your water intake. Alcohol intake may also lead to dehydration.
Warmer seasons and higher temperatures mean excess sweating; it is necessary to replenish your body’s water content.
Spending a lot of time outdoors, in the sun or in heated rooms can lead to quicker dehydration.
If you are very active or have an athletic lifestyle, naturally you will require more water as compared to someone who has a sedentary lifestyle. Ensure that along with water, you are also getting enough minerals and electrolytes in your fluids.
If you are sick and down with a fever, infection, diarrhea or vomiting, staying hydrated is incredibly important. Certain medications like diuretics can also lead to considerable loss of water. Diabetic patients, pregnant and breastfeeding women also need to make sure they are drinking extra water to remain hydrated.
Here are a few tips to help you stay on track with hydration:
Do not wait until you are thirsty or dehydrated to drink water. Drink at regular intervals.
Drink water a little before meals.
Carry a bottle while going out to ensure you are sipping on water regularly.
Include fruits and vegetables with high water content in your diet.
Dress according to the weather and stay covered if it is very hot.
Drink water while exercising in tiny sips.
If you want to focus purely on hydration, go for plain or flavoured water rather than caffeinated beverages as they may lead to more water loss through frequent urination.
Avoid sugary drinks which can increase inflammation or weight gain, and alcohol.
Staying hydrated means you are providing your body with enough water and fluids to carry out such tasks. Dehydration is a lack of adequate water, and the indicators of it include fatigue, low blood pressure, darker urine, disorientation and dizziness. The body has an inbuilt system that helps regulate thirst and hydration needs. When your water content needs to be replenished, you feel thirsty and get the urge to drink water; there is no conscious thinking involved in this mechanism.
Learn to pay attention to the body’s signals and drink water consistently throughout the day to avoid getting too thirsty and then feeling fatigued or getting headaches as a result. You can use the colour of urine as a guide to gauge your hydration levels. Pale or clear urine is ideal. If your urine is a very dark yellow, make sure to drink more water frequently. Keep in mind that certain circumstances such as exercise or hot weather that lead to more sweating call for more water intake, along with electrolyte replenishment. Health conditions, age and pregnancy can all affect how much water you need so make sure you are consistent.
While an excess of water intake is uncommon, it is not unheard of. Dangerously high water content as a result of the kidneys being unable to get rid of excess water can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia. It means that the minerals in the body or blood are very diluted, thus leading to a fall in sodium levels. This can lead to life-threatening health issues. Marathon runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes are especially at risk. Consult a health professional if you have thyroid diseases, liver or kidney issues, heart problems, or are prescribed medicines that make you retain water such as opiate pain meds, NSAIDS or antidepressants.
Hydration needs vary from one person to another, so there is no hard and fast rule that tells you how much water you should drink. Account for all the mentioned factors and based on your health history, figure out the water intake that suits you the best. Be aware of the conditions that are associated with dehydration or overhydration so you aren’t caught off guard in case of any health emergencies. However, health emergencies can arrive suddenly and without notice. For this very reason, buying health insurance is advised so that you are prepared in the face of unprecedented circumstances. Moreover, with online platforms like Finserv MARKETS, buying health insurance is as easy as clicking a button. Compare and choose from several different options to find the best plan for you.
For women 2.7 liters a day is the recommended amount and for men it is 3.7 liters per day.
Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, low blood pressure, darker urine, disorientation and dizziness.
Drinking too much water can lead to a dilution of minerals like sodium in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia.
Flavored water, juice, electrolyte-rich fluids, and fluids from fruits and vegetables are recommended besides water.
Caffeinated beverages like coffee or tea, sugary soft drinks and alcohol can cause issues like excess urination or inflammation and should not act as replacements for water.