You can be regularly active, getting good sleep, and eating a clean diet but if you are neglecting your water intake, you can set yourself up for some issues.
You know that you need to drink more of it but you may wonder how much water you should drink a day. It can be confusing but this article will help narrow down why water is so important and also how much water you should drink.
The Rule Of 3
There’s a rough rule of three when it comes to life and your body’s ability to survive. In an extreme situation you can’t:
1. Go over 3 minutes without air
2. Go more than 3 hours without shelter
3. Go for more than 3 weeks without food
And you can’t go more than 3 days without water. It’s amazing to see how long the human body can function without food but when it comes to lack of water, it can be game over pretty quick.
Water is life. We ARE water. Two-thirds of your body is made up of water and it’s by far the most important substance you can consume. The problem is a majority of people are walking around dehydrated and are unaware of how unhealthy they may be because they’ve just become used to feeling that way.
So let’s look at why water is so important.
1. Water Helps Maintain a Balance of Fluids
If these fluid levels are out of whack, then your whole body will become out of whack. These fluids are involved with:
- Transport of nutrients
- Balance of body temperature
Think of water like you would think of motor oil in a car. It will not run optimally without it. It may get by with a little but it will run sluggish and probably break down.
2. Water Helps to Control Hunger and Avoid Overeating
If you’re trying to get fit and lose weight, you must pay attention to this point. It really isn’t that hard to slip into dehydration. You may think of dehydration in an extreme sense such as crawling through the desert in rags gasping for a drop.
But dehydration can happen relatively easily as it is dependent on things like activity level and the temperature. We confuse dehydration a lot of times for hunger signals. We’re used to eating 24/7 that we have become out of tune with recognizing that we need water and not more food.
When you feel hungry when you don’t think you should be, have a glass or two of water and this can help in setting things right. The high water content in fresh produce will also help to keep you full and avoid overeating. Fruits and vegetables are primarily made up of water and they will help control the urges to overeat.
3. Water Helps to Flush out Toxins
Those body fluids we mentioned before also help to transport and get rid of waste. Blood urea nitrogen is the main toxic substance in the body and the kidneys are involved with helping to get rid of it. But you need to have an adequate fluid intake.
It’s easy to make sure you have the right hydration levels to cleanse yourself as your urine should be like a light straw color and without odor. If it is dark and has a smell, you can be sure you’re dehydrated and not allowing for these toxins to be eliminated from your body.
4. Lack of Water Impacts Your Cognitive Function
The average person loses 80 ounces of water a day and this impacts how much water you should drink. You might think this is from vigorous exercise but it’s from normal perspiration and doesn’t even include any form of exercise yet.
The average person only consumes around 32 ounces of water a day so you can see what the problem is here. Now you add on to this the amount of dehydrating beverages people consume – namely caffeine – and it’s a miracle people can even function.
- Brain fatigue
- Sleep issues
If you have problems focusing at work or at school, you’d be better off ditching the extra coffee and having a bottle or two of water. Water is vital for all your cells, tissues, and organs, and the brain is no exception.
How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day?
There has been the common suggestion of 6-8 glasses a day and this seems to have been around for a while. There really has been no scientific proof that this is the right amount, however. If you have been following 6-8 glasses a day, and you’ve been feeling great, then it’s probably OK to stick with it.
If you want to get more specific, there’s a quick formula you can use to determine how much water you should drink:
Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half. You then want to drink that amount in ounces of water each day. So if you weight 150 pounds, that would be 75 ounces of water each day.
This will be more in the right ballpark for you as it will take into account body size and the requirements that come from that. This is a good starting point and there are a few other things to consider. You need to remember that this number will need to be adjusted if you sweat more profusely than usual or you’ve been very active outdoors.
If you keep an eye on your urine and see it staying in that lighter color range you know you’re doing well.
How Much Water Should You Drink Depending on Age?
The formula I gave is for the average adult with no serious conditions. When you are younger, there will be some different requirements.
Kids are obviously not going to need as much and girls and boys between 4-8 should drink around 40 ounces a day, or 5 cups. As they get older, from 9 to 13, this requirement goes up to 56-64 ounces or 7-8 cups. This is when you are growing so water is extremely important especially between ages 14-18. The requirements now will be 64-88 ounces or 8-11 cups.
Pregnant women will need a bit more than average and should look to drink around 80 ounces per day or 10 cups. Breastfeeding women will need even more and should drink 104 total ounces, or around 13 cups.
When considering how much water you drink a day remember that your activity level and climate will dictate that you’ll need more water than the minimum. On the days you exercise, add in another 1.5-2.5 cups. If you work out for more than an hour, you may need more on top of this.
Remember that you’ll get water intake from foods and real whole food makes up around 20% of your total fluid requirements each day. Try to include high water foods in your diet such as watermelon, cucumber, spinach, berries, and green peppers.
Not only will they help with your fluid requirements, but they are also highly nutritious too.