Water is required for life. In fact, every cell, organ, and tissue in the body needs water to function. For example, your body uses water to remove waste, lubricate your joints, and maintain its temperature. However, for many, drinking enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day can be tough!
According to the CDC, daily fluid intake is defined as the amount of water consumed from plain drinking water, other beverages, and food, but similar to other health guidelines, the amount of hydration that your body needs for internal body water to function at its best depends on many different factors. Weight, age, gender, activity levels, overall health, and even climate can all influence your unique individual fluid needs. Whether you are running on the sandy beach alongside the ocean or pedaling with everything you’ve got in spin class - any physical activity that makes you sweat means you need to increase your water intake for proper fluid replacement. Why, might you ask? Because sweat is made up of mostly water, meaning sweat equals water loss, and it is crucial to rehydrate before signs of dehydration start to surface. In fact, just losing just 1-2% of water is considered mild dehydration and has been shown to impair cognitive performance, which is why being aware of your own hydration status throughout the day and taking extra steps to make sure you get enough fluid is so important!.
Here are some of the most common signs that you may be dehydrated:
- Bad breath
- Increased body temperature
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased heart rate/heart palpitations
- Sugar cravings
- Extreme thirst
- Confusion / Lack of focus
- High or low blood pressure
So, how much H2O do you need to drink to stay hydrated? Keep reading to find out!
Hydration: How Much Hydrating Do You Actually Need?
We already know that hydrating is of the utmost importance. Water is your body’s principal component, which makes up roughly 60 - 80% of your body weight. Every day, there's naturally water loss through your breath, urine, bowel movements, and perspiration. For your body to operate correctly, rehydration is crucial to replenish your body water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain plenty of water. According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adequate daily fluid intake is:
- Roughly 15.5 cups of water a day for men
- Roughly 11.5 cups of water a day for women
Okay, but what about the advice to drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day?
If you ask someone how much water you should drink in a day, chances are they will probably tell you "8 glasses." Sure, this is great advice and a pretty reasonable goal, but for some, 8 glasses a day might not be enough.
Here are some factors that can influence your water needs:
As we mentioned earlier, if you do any physical activity that makes you sweat, you will need to drink more water to cover the fluid loss. You bring a water bottle with you to these physical activities anyway, don't you? Put it to good use! Be sure to drink extra water before, during, and after a workout to make sure you are keeping your body's water content at healthy levels. If doing intense exercise that lasts more than an hour, fruit juice or a sports drink can help replace sugars on top of fluid loss, but a supplement like Adapted Nutritions Hi-Lyte Concentrate is most ideal because it can help to also replace electrolytes that are lost through sweat without the added sugar.
Hot, humid, and sticky weather can make you sweat, and just like when you workout, it requires additional fluid intake to avoid dehydration. Be sure to guzzle down lots of water when you are out in the sun, and consider taking a great mineral supplement like Hi-Lyte Salt Capsules to keep your electrolytes in check. In addition to hot weather, dehydration can also occur at high altitudes.
When you are battling a fever, vomiting, or have diarrhea, your body loses more fluids. Although you may not feel well and might not want to drink fluids when you're ill, it is crucial to drink water to replace what you lose. Dealing with a fever is a pain all on its own - drink water to avoid throwing dehydration into the mix, which can make you feel even worse. Other medical conditions that may also require large amounts of fluid intake include urinary tract stones and bladder infections.
Pregnancy or Breast-Feeding
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need extra fluids in order to stay hydrated. The Office on Women’s Health recommends that pregnant women should drink around 10 cups of fluids daily, and women who breast-feed should drink around 13 cups of fluids daily.
Hydrating for Your Health
The cells in your body contain and are surrounded by water. When you are dehydrated, those cells are much less permeable, which means they have trouble removing waste and absorbing nutrients to help keep your body healthy. When you drink water and are adequately hydrated, you are helping your body to function properly.
In fact, you may even notice some impressive health benefits of staying hydrated, which can include:
Water Keeps Your Body Cool
Have you ever noticed that your face tends to get red hot during exercise? This is because your body releases heat by expanding blood vessels close to the skin’s surface, which results in more blood flow and more heat dissipated into the air. However, when you are dehydrated, it takes a higher environmental temperature to trigger your blood vessels to widen, so you tend to stay hotter for longer.
Water Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Dehydration lowers your blood volume, which causes your heart to work harder in order to pump the reduced amount of blood and deliver enough oxygen to your cells. This makes everyday activities like simply walking up the stairs much more of a challenge.
Water Helps Cleanse Your Body
Your kidneys require water in order to filter waste from the blood and excrete it through your urine. If you are severely dehydrated, your kidneys may stop working accurately, which can cause toxins to build up in your body.
Water is important. Plain and simple. So how much of it should you drink? The answer is: it depends, but chances are, you're not drinking enough! Everyone is different and has unique needs. For example, if you are exercising and sweating daily, your body will require more fluids than someone who is inactive and not sweating.
Listen to your body, and when in doubt, drink more water!