What makes up 60% of your body, covers 71% of Earth’s surface, and makes life on this planet possible? That’s right, good old H20! Water!!
Water is such a vital part of the make up of our bodies. Yet, so many of us live on the edge of dehydration, choosing sweet tea, coffee, or soda instead of this precious fluid. Keeping yourself adequately hydrated is a key to feeling your best and being in your best health. Having adequate fluid intake helps keep your bowels regulated, helps your kidneys clear out waste and toxins, maintains electrolyte balance in your body and much more! Symptoms of dehydration include dark urine, dizziness, rapid pulse, dry lips or skin, constipation, headaches, and others.
How much water does one actually need? This varies throughout your lifetime and also depends upon your daily activities. It also varies depending on underlying health conditions or medications. For example, people with heart failure or poor kidney function need to be cautious not to drink more water than advised by their physician. However, for the average healthy adult, we need a generous amount. If you are exercising a lot or sweating due to being outdoors, you will need more. If you have recently been vomiting, having diarrhea, or fever, then you require in excess of what you normally would. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
About 20% of that daily intake comes from food. That lands the average male around 100oz a day and the average female around 75oz a day of additional fluids needed.
Does it have to be plain water? Do other liquids count? Coffee and some teas are actually mild diuretics and cause you to get rid of fluid in your body. They do add some net water to your body, but not as much as an equal volume of a non caffeinated beverage. They should be used in moderation. Sugary juices and sodas are not the best either. While they do contain fluid, they have unnecessary simple sugars and calories, thus packing on the pounds. Sports drinks are tasty and may get you to drink more than you would otherwise. However, they don’t really have a big benefit compared to water and often contain a lot of sugar. If you don’t like plain water, try adding lemon or a different kind of fruit for flavor. If you want juice, try adding a splash to a glass of water or diluting it with water rather than drinking it fully concentrated. Try subbing sparkling water for soda if you crave the “fizz.”
Is there such a thing as too much water? YES! Some people go overboard on the water drinking and end up dropping their sodium. This can be dangerous and even life threatening if extreme. Just be reasonable about your water intake and you should be good!
This blogpost does not represent individual medical advice. If you have any questions about how much water you need for your individual health situation, talk to Dr. Lomotey (or your own physician). Hit “sign up” below!