Water is an important nutrient and necessary for all forms of life to sustain. The body loses its water throughout the day, mostly through urine and sweat and from regular functions like breathing. To prevent dehydration (losing more fluids than you are taking in), you should drink plenty of water every day. One common question people ask is: how much water you should drink a day? According to Mayo Clinic, this is a simple question with no easy answer.
Over the years, studies have come out with various recommendations on how much water a person should drink every day. Your individual water requirements actually depend on many factors. No single formula fits everyone, but knowing how much it is essential for your body to stay hydrated can help you estimate how much water to drink per day.
Is Drinking Water is the Only Way to Stay Hydrated?
All kinds of liquids help you stay hydrated, but the best option is water. It is almost free (if you are drinking tap water) and has no sugar or calories. The general recommendation is daily eight-or-so cups of water per day. However, most people who are healthy will get adequate fluid through the beverages they consume every day.
Experts says that, unlike it is normally believed, drinking tea or coffee will not cause dehydration. Healthy people who drink coffee in moderation don’t lose more fluid than people who don’t have any caffeine. Experts recommend restricting caffeine intake to 400 milligrams a day – about 250 ml or three cups of black coffee or four cups or 250 ml of black tea. Coffee or tea together with water-rich foods can help maintain your fluid balance.
Foods That Can Help You Stay Hyrdrated
Your body gets water from not only drinking water, but also through certain foods. Surveys suggest that around 20% of water intake comes from foodstuffs and the remaining from fluids. Foods like watermelon, apples, and oranges, lettuce, carrots, cooked broccoli, chicken breasts, salmon, etc. are foods with water content.
How Much Water Should You Drink a Day?
Drinking 8 cups of water daily is a reasonable goal and easy to rememeber. For some people, less than that will be enough, but others might need more. Drinking a lot of water can benefit people with specific health conditions such as thyroid disease, and kidney, liver, or heart problems, or those taking medications that make you retain water. The amount of water intake also changes with other factors. For instance, you need to drink more water than usual if you:
- Are sick – have flu or a urinary infection
- Exercise intensely, specifically in a hot climate
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
The adequate amount of fluid intake determined by The U.S National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for a healthy adult living in a temperature climate need is:
- For men, about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids per day.
- For women, about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids per day.
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other food, and beverages. Nearly 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the remaining from drinks.
How Will You Know if Your Water Intake is Enough?
Your fluid intake is likely enough if:
- You rarely feel thirsty
- Your urine is light yellow or colorless
Consulting your doctor or dietician can help you find out the adequate amount of water that you should drink every day. To prevent dehydration and ensure your body has the required fluids, you should make water your beverage of choice. It is good if you drink a glass of water:
- Before and after exercise
- When you feel thirsty
- With each meal and between meals
Some Easy Ways to Drink more Water During the Day
- When you wake up in the morning, drink a glass of water before having tea or coffee.
- If you have a desk job, keep a bottle of water handy and take several sips each hour. If you are on the go, carry water with you and take sips throughout the day.
- If you get bored of drinking plain water, add a dash of lemon to it.
Are You Drinking Too Much Water
Some experts have raised concerns that drinking too much water could be dangerous. To maintain your health and life, the balance of minerals is important – not only the amount of fluid in your body. Too much water could lead to hyponatremia or water intoxication when sodium levels in the blood plasma come too low. Symptoms include:
- Brain swelling
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Lung congestion
People who drink too much water when they are exercising also could be at risk. Having specific diseases or using some medications are other risk factors. For instance, diabetes can lead to excessive thirst. However, the body can adapt to higher or lower water levels. If you need to drink more, your body can remind you through thirst. Likewise, scientists believe an internal mechanism can make you stop drinking too much water.
There is no one size fits all answer – the amount of water you need to drink water depends how healthy you are, specific health issues you may have, how much you exercise, and how hot and cold the climate is. The general rule is to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking water whenever you feel thirsty and drink more than usual during high heat and exercise to compensate for the loss of water from your body.