As the weather starts to get warmer, you may be sweating more and feeling more thirsty than usual. Are you drinking enough water? Being hydrated is one of the most important factors for our health as water makes up 60 percent of our body weight. Every system in our body depends on water and it is present in every cell, tissue and organ. Water flushes toxins, carries nutrients around your body, and provides adequate moisture to body tissues. It also regulates body temperature, lubricates and cushions our joints, protects sensitive tissues and rids our body of waste through urination, perspiration and bowel movements.
If your body does not have adequate water, it is dehydrated, which can be impairing even in mild forms. Dehydration causes headaches, disruptions in mood and cognitive function including concentration, alertness and short-term memory. Dehydration in rigorous physical activity is a serious threat and can cause a decrease in performance, reduced endurance and motivation, fatigue, and an inability to regulate temperature. If dehydration is sustained for a long period of time, it can cause serious health conditions.
So, how much water do we need to stay healthy? “Eight- 8 ounce glasses of water” is an old adage that is not necessarily accurate but is repeated because it is easy to remember. It equals about 1.9 liters which is lower than the recommended amounts for both men and women. However, each person needs different amounts depending on individual variables including health, environment, and exercise. Two easy and accurate guidelines are to drink enough so that you are rarely thirsty and so that your urine is colorless or light yellow.
If this seems too ambiguous, here are some general guidelines:
- Men should drink about 13 glasses (or 3 liters).
- Women should drink about 9 glasses (or 2.2 liters).
- Pregnant Women should drink about 10 glasses (2.3 liters)
- Breast Feeding Women should drink about 13 glasses (3 liters)
- Mild exercise should add about 1.5 to 2.5 glasses (400-600 milliliters), for intense exercise plan to double or triple that amount.
- Drink more water during hot or humid weather.
An important thing to remember is that everyone’s body is different. Again, aim to drink enough so that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is clear or light yellow.
These guidelines may be a lot higher than your current drinking habits. Here are some tips to increase your water consumption.
- Carry a water bottle with you or freeze one and have cold water all day long!
- Drink a glass of water with each meal.
- Opt for water instead of sugary beverages (this is also a good tip to help with blood sugar control and weight management – substituting water for one 20-ounce sugary soda will save you about 240 calories and some money).
- Drink before, during and after exercising.
- Choose fruits and vegetables with high water content like melons, celery, tomatoes, and cucumbers (food can provide about 20 percent of your total water intake).