How much water should you consume daily? Simple question but difficult to answer. Actually your water requirements depend on various factors, like your health, activity levels and the environmental factors.
Though there is no unique formula that is applicable generally, understanding more about your body’s requirements for fluids will help you guess your daily water requirements.
Health benefits of water
Water is your body’s primary chemical constituent, constituting about 75% of your weight. Each system in your body requires water for proper functioning. E.g. water removes toxins from vital organs, provides nutrients to your cells and offers a wet environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.
Water deficiency can cause dehydration, a condition that results when you don’t have sufficient water in your body to perform normal functions.
How much water should you drink?
Each day you lose water through breathing, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. If your body has to operate properly, you must restore its water supply by utilizing beverages and foods containing water.
Some approaches try to guess water requirements for the normal, healthy adult living in a temperate climate.
Replacement method. The normal urine output for adults is 1.5 liters per day. You lose about an extra liter of water a day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. Food normally comprises about 20% of your total fluid consumption, so if you drink 2 liters of water or other beverages per day (slightly over 8 cups) along with your normal diet, you will normally replenish the lost fluids.
Factors that determine water needs
You may have to change your total fluid consumption depending on your activity levels, the climate of your area, your health status, and whether you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
Exercise. More exercise means your body needs more fluid to keep hydrated. An additional 4 or 2 cups of water should be enough for short bouts of exercise, but heavy exercise lasting over an hour (like, running a marathon) needs more fluid. How much extra fluid is required depends on the amount you sweat during the exercise, but 13-26 ounces (or nearly 2 -3 cups) per hour will generally suffice, except if the weather is exceptionally warm.
For long bouts of intense exercise, add sea salt in your water, to replenish sodium lost during sweating and lower the risks of suffering from hyponatremia that can be fatal. Also replace fluid after exercise. Drinking 16 ounces of fluid for each pound of body weight lost while exercising is advisable.
Environment. Hot or humid weather causes sweating and needs extra consumption of fluid. Heated indoor air also leads to your skin losing moisture during winter. Moreover altitudes higher than meters can cause higher urination and more quicker breathing that consumes more of your fluid reserves.
Diseases or health problems. Symptoms of illnesses, like fever, vomiting and diarrhea, make your body to lose more fluids. In these instances drink more water and may even have to go for oral rehydration solutions, like Gatorade, Powerade or Ceralyte. Some conditions, like bladder infections or urinary tract stones, also need higher water intake. On the contrary, some conditions like heart failure and some kinds of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases can affect excretion of water and even necessitate you restrict your fluid intake.
Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Pregnant or breast-feeding women require extra fluids to remain hydrated. Lots of fluid are lost particularly when nursing. The Institute of Medicine advises that pregnant women consume 2.4 liters (nearly 10 cups) of fluids everyday and breast-feeding women drink 3.0 liters (nearly 12.5 cups) of fluids a day.
Other sources of water
Although it’s a smart move to keep water easily accessible all the while, you don’t have to depend only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. Your foods also make a important part of your fluid needs. On average, food constitutes around 20% of total water intake, while the other 80% is derived from water and drinks of all types. But only few are good for you!!!
E.g. , most fruits and vegetables – watermelon and cucumbers – are nearly 100% water in terms of weight. Drinks like juice also consist of largely of water. Coffee, tea or soda will also do, but do not make them a major part of your daily total fluid consumption. Water is your best bets since it’s calorie-free, cheap and easily available.
Dehydration and problems
Failure to consume more water than consumed by your body can cause dehydration. Even slight dehydration – as little as 1% to 1% loss of your body weight – can drain your energy and make you feel tired. Major causes of dehydration are intense activity, lot of sweating, vomiting and diarrhea.
Signs and symptoms of dehydration are:
Medium to lot of thirst
Little or no urination
Mild dehydration doesn’t cause complications – provided the water is replaced quickly – but more-severe cases can be fatal, particularly in the very young and the old. In extreme cases, fluids or electrolytes may have to be given intravenously.
Remaining safely hydrated
It’s normally not a smart ting to depend on thirst alone as a pointer for when to drink. By the time you feel thirsty, it is likely you may already be little dehydrated. Moreover, remember as you age, your body loses its ability to detect dehydration and notify you of brain signals of thirst. Lots of thirst and higher urination can imply a more serious medical problem. Discuss with your doctor if you if these persist.
To prevent dehydration and ensure your body has the necessary fluids, make water your preferred beverage. Almost each healthy adult can think about the following:
Have a glass of water before every meal and in middle of each meal.
Drink before, in between and after exercise.
Replace sparkling water for alcohol at social dos.
If you drink water from a bottle, clean properly or change the bottle frequently. Refill only bottles meant for reuse.
Though rare, it is possible to drink excessive water. If your kidneys cannot excrete the extra water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is thinned, causing a condition called hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood). Endurance athletes – like marathon runners – who consume lots of water are more at risk of hyponatremia. But on an average, drinking excessive water rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.
If you are worried about your fluid consumption, consult your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can help you decide the appropriate amount of water.