I often get asked how much water people should drink. I did a quick search of the internet looking for an article to refer people to, but I couldn’t find anything that dealt with all the issues and had all the correct facts. Here is my effort!
You should pay as much attention to your level of hydration as you do to your intake of food. Your body is made up of 70% water, so don’t ignore the importance of water.
Never rely upon being thirsty as a good indicator of proper hydration, as many people don’t experience feelings of thirst unless their throats or mouths are dry.
Dehydration is often mistaken as hunger. Late night cravings are often a cry from your body to hydrate rather than a need for food. It is virtually impossible to tell the difference. Therefore, always try drinking a glass or two of water in the evenings instead of heading to the fridge or pantry. You will be surprised how the water will fill the need without the calories.
The kidneys can process up to 15 litres of water per day, so there is very little chance that you can drink too much water, especially if you spread out your consumption throughout the day.
The average adult loses about 2.5 litres of water per day (1.5 litres through urine, and another 1.0 litres through breathing, sweating and bowl movements). To remain healthy, you need to replenish 2.5 litres of liquid per day at a minimum. Most people obtain approximately half a litre from their food.
Signs of Dehydration:
Temporary signs of dehydration range from hunger, headaches, reduced alertness or concentration, fatigue, mood changes, and elevated resting heart rate.
Longer term signs of dehydration can manifest itself as constipation, kidney stones, blood clots, heart attack or stroke, are early aging (evidenced by wrinkles and less elastic skin).
Proper hydration allows your body perform the way that it was meant to perform.
Factors Affecting the Amount of Water You Lose in a Day:
Climate: The warmer the temperature, the more you sweat, the more you need to drink. The same goes for humidity. In hot or humid climates, adding a litre per day should offset the fluids lost by sweating. Dry weather or indoor heating during the winter can cause your skin to lose moisture, which will require additional hydration. High altitudes (more than 8,000 feet above sea level) will cause increased fluid loss, thereby requiring additional hydration.
Exercise: The duration and intensity of a workout will affect the amount of sweat produced, and therefore determine how much water needs to be replaced. In general, drink an extra litre of water for each hour of exercise. High performance athletes, such as our Olympians, train many hours per day and require up to eight or ten litres of water per day to replenish their body fluids.
Weight: The greater your weight, the more water you need to drink. A good general guideline is drink ½ oz of water per day for every pound that you weigh. For example, someone who weighs 120 pounds should drink 60 ounces (about 2 litres) while someone who weighs 200 pounds should drink 100 ounces (about 3 litres). In general, men need to drink 3 litres per day and women need to drink about 2.0 litres per day.
Medications: Some prescriptions require the patient to drink more liquids and a few require you to drink less water. Always consult with your physician or pharmacist when taking medications.
Pregnancy: According to the Institute of Medicine, pregnant women should increase their intake of water by a small amount each day. Therefore, and extra glass or two of water per day will suffice. During breast feeding, it is recommended women increase their intake of water up to 3 litres per day.
Illness: Fever, vomiting, and diarrhea cause a loss of fluids that need to be replaced. Bladder infections and urinary tract stones also create a need to drink more water. Diseases of the liver, kidney, and adrenal gland, and heart failure may impair the excretion of water and require limiting water intake. Always consult your health care provider.
Do Other Liquids Count?
Yes they do. Milk, juices, and coffee are almost 100% water.
Contrary to what you may read from different uniformed sources, coffee does not act as a diuretic. A diuretic is a substance that when ingested results in a net loss of water from the body. However, alcohol is a diuretic, so having a few beers after a game won’t replenish your body fluids, but it might improve your stories!
Your body only needs water in terms of fluid replacement. I try to drink protein shakes with fruit and water after a workout, and I also try to drink green juice produced by extracting juice from vegetables every day. There is really no need to ever drink any other liquids unless you need to replace certain nutrients such as potassium after a long workout.
The two main reasons that most people don’t like drinking water are the fact that the water tastes or smells bad, or water makes them feel bloated. A simple charcoal filter will eliminate the taste and odour. Ionized water will eliminate the bloating sensation and provide many other health benefits.
Summary of Useful Tips for Water Consumption
- Consume at least as much liquid as your body uses up in a day
- Drink additional liquids when you are sick or attempting to overcome disease
- Drink additional liquids when you are pregnant or breast feeding
- Drink additional liquids if you are in a hot/humid climate or at spending time at high altitudes
- Drink additional liquids if you exercise
- Use charcoal filters to improve the taste and water
- Use other filters to remove contaminants from your water supply
- Use ionized water for more energy and to eliminate the bloated feeling experienced from drinking water
- If your urine is closer to being clear than yellow, you are probably well hydrated
As always, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and are not intended to as medical advice. Always consult a health care provider with any health issues.