How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day?
While we can potentially live for long periods of time without food, most humans can only last a few days without water. It’s no surprise considering it makes up around 60% of our total body mass and is involved in a wide variety of different biological processes.
Water is not only essential to humans it is also, according to Leonardo Da Vinci, ‘the driving force of all nature.’
Staying hydrated is all about ensuring our bodies have enough water to function optimally. While it varies from person to person, becoming dehydrated can have some profound impacts on our physical and mental health.
Here we look at how much we should all be drinking each day and the benefits of being properly hydrated.
Hydration: Why Is It So Important?
If Someone loses as little as 2% of the water from your body, they can start to feel the effects of dehydration. The relationship between water and electrolytes in our cells is highly complex and any disruption is enough to affect a myriad of different biological processes.
Extreme dehydration can lead to increased fatigue, confusion and poor decision making. It can also affect motor coordination. Professional athletes lose as much as 10% of water during contests and training which is why regular hydration is essential to their performance.
How Much Water do you Need?
Surprisingly, 7% of Americans admit to not drinking any water during the day. The most recent guidelines suggest that men should be drinking about 3.7 litres a day and women 2.7 (around 15 cups and 11 cups).
While we get the largest part of our hydration from liquid drinks, however, 20-30% of our hydration comes from food.
How much water we need depends on a variety of factors:
- Someone who lives in a hot climate will need more intake than someone who lives in a cooler one.
- If we are sedentary, we don’t lose as much water as we do when, for example, we’re exercising.
- If we are ill and feverish, we also need to drink more.
Our dietary needs change as we age and this is also true when it comes to staying hydrated, as older adults are at greater risk of dehydration. Memory loss and the onset of dementia can play a big role in this and it’s important to ensure elderly relatives regularly rehydrate. Babies and children are also at a bigger risk compared to adults.
It’s important to note that drinking too much water can also be damaging to the human body. Hyponatremia is essentially intoxication by water – it causes low sodium levels and can lead to health problems such as seizures.
What are the Signs of Dehydration?
Water is lost through the body by urinating, in our faeces, through breath and sweating.
The first signs that we are dehydrated and need to take on more fluids are easy to notice. We’ll feel thirsty which will drive us to find a water source. Individuals will also notice that their urine is darker.
Further dehydration can result in loss of body weight, confusion and dizziness, the skin will become dry and the heart starts beating more rapidly. If the individual does not rehydrate, they might faint and lose consciousness.
Reasons for Staying Hydrated
There are numerous reasons for keeping hydrated:
- It helps maintain body temperature.
- It supports good cardiovascular health.
- It has a big effect on the skin making it more supple and healthy-looking.
- It enables us to eliminate toxins and manage digestion.
- It lubricates joints and cushions them, preventing injury and pain.
- It protects the spinal cord and supports a healthier nervous system.
- It improves energy levels and boosts mental health.
- It stops our mouths getting dry.
- It improves performance in cognitive tasks.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Most of us know that drinking water during the day is important. Here are some useful tips for those who regularly get dehydrated:
- Always carry a water bottle and take regular sips throughout the day.
- Have a glass of water next to the bedside table.
- Reduce the number of sugary drinks consumed and replace with water.
- Add some lemon or lime slices to water to give it more taste.
- Opt for healthy drinks such as coconut, soy or oat milk without added sugar.
- Monitor water intake daily with a fitness app.
- Have water during meals and avoid alcohol.
Paying more attention to our water intake can make a huge difference in our health and wellbeing. Simple changes such as carrying a bottle of water around help to ensure that we stay hydrated at all times.