How Much Water Should I Drink?
How much water should you drink a day? That sounds like a simple question, but unfortunately, there is no easy answer. We’re all different so it’s hard to pinpoint a concrete amount of water for everyone to consume. Studies have produced different recommendations throughout the years, but realistically, your water needs depend on many factors like your health, how active you are and where you live.
So what’s the big fuss about?
We’ve always been told to drink a lot of water, but why is water so important? Water is the glue that holds your body together.
Your body is 60% water and every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. Water dramatically helps your body function and in order to replenish it, you must consume foods and beverages that contain it.
Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, regulates body temperatures, lubricates joints, carries nutrients to cells, helps prevent constipation and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. Lack of water can lead to dehydration making it hard for your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired.
But how much water should you drink?
There is no hard scientific evidence that says you should drink 8 glasses of water a day, but it’s not a bad idea either.
A 10-year study of nearly 48,000 men published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1999 found that the risk of bladder cancer fell 7% for every cup subjects drank per day. Other studies have found that the more water subjects drank, the fewer precancerous colon polyps they had. And a study of 20,000 Seventh-day Adventists in California in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who drank at least five glasses of water a day had a 41% lower risk of fatal heart disease, and men had a 54% lower risk, compared with those who drank just two glasses a day.
Easy ways to consume water. What you eat provides a significant portion of about 20% of your total water intake. Many fruits and vegetables—like watermelon and tomatoes—are 90% or more water by weight. Milk and juice are mostly composed of water, but a plain old glass of water is going to be your best bet because it’s calorie-free, costs little-to-nothing and is always readily available.
Exercise. You’ll need to drink extra water if you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat to compensate for the fluid you lost. An extra three cups of water should suffice for a short workout, but you should drink more water if you’re going to work out for a longer period of time. How much water you need depends on how much you sweat during your exercise, and the duration and type of exercise you do.
The environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat a lot and altitudes greater than 8,200 feet may trigger frequent urination and more rapid breathing, which will use up your fluid reserves and cause your body to crave more water.
Sickness. If you’re sick, you should drink more water to help your body get better. When you have a fever, diarrhea or vomiting, your body loses additional fluids so you must drink lots of water to replenish them
How much water you should be drinking: the rule of thumb
If you drink enough water so you rarely feel thirsty and produce 6 cups or more of colorless or light yellow urine a day, your water intake is considered adequate. It’s also a good idea to drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal to ensure that your body is getting how much water it needs. Also, drink water before, during and after you exercise.