Do you ever wonder if you are drinking enough water? How much is enough? Is it possible to drink too much?
By now we all know that it’s important to stay hydrated to look and feel your best. Our bodies are made up of mostly water, about 60 percent for the average adult. Water isn’t a source of calories, protein or energy, but every cell in your body depends upon it to function. In addition, water lubricates your joints, is critical in regulating body temperature and helps rid the body of waste materials. Water also helps deliver oxygen throughout the body and acts as a shock absorber for your brain and spinal cord.
The largest organ in the human body is the skin. Water is essential to maintaining its moisture balance and delivering essential nutrients to skin cells. It replaces skin tissue and helps increase elasticity. This in turn promotes a healthier appearance and diminishes signs of aging.
Your body loses water throughout the day. If you are in a hot environment or participating in strenuous exercise, your rate of water loss can skyrocket. If it’s not replaced, not only can the total volume of body water fall, your blood volume can also drop. A decrease in circulating blood volume can lead to a drop in blood pressure and, if it falls enough, can be fatal.
How Much Is Enough?
So here’s the question: How much water do you actually need to drink in a day? Do you really have to carry around a huge container with you everywhere you go? And where did this idea come from that you have to drink a gallon of water a day to stay healthy?
Many of us grew up with the idea that you had to drink eight glasses of water a day, in addition to anything else you might drink like milk, juice or tea. Eight 8-ounce glasses is 64 ounces of water, or a half gallon. That’s a lot of fluid! And, as it turns out, there was never any scientific evidence for the eight glasses rule anyway!
In 2002, researcher Hans Valtin published a review questioning the eight glasses rule and two years later in 2002 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published new recommendations upholding Valtin’s research. The new guidelines state that normal, healthy adults may use thirst as a gauge of how much water they need to drink, instead of taking in a prescribed amount. Imagine that! Modern medicine recommending that you listen to your own body to determine its needs.
Exceptions to this would be people who have a medical condition that affects their thirst mechanism (as seen in some stroke patients) or a condition that requires strict fluid control (such as kidney failure), athletes, or people living in extreme environments.
Water: The Total Picture
Remember that you get some water from food and also other beverages that contain water. The current recommendation for the total amount of fluid (from all sources) you should consume in a day is 91 ounces total for women (eleven cups) and 125 ounces (15 cups) for men. You can assume that about 20 percent of your water comes from food and the other 80 percent from water and other beverages so, accounting for that, women need about nine total cups of fluid a day and men need about twelve and a half total. The researchers at IOM did not publish an upper limit for the amount of daily fluid intake. There have been rare cases of a dangerous condition known as water intoxication from drinking too much.
In general, if you are a normal, healthy adult, you can listen to what your body needs but be sure to drink several glasses of pure water daily. While beverages such as tea, coffee and other drinks count toward daily fluid intake, there’s no substitute for fresh clean water. If you don’t think you are getting enough, try increasing your normal intake by a glass or two daily. In addition, adding water rich fruits and vegetables to your diet is a great way to add water.
There’s no downside to drinking enough pure water! The upside is increased energy, better performance, keeping your system healthy and free from toxins, glowing skin. Water can also help with weight loss. If you ever find yourself starving with a ways to go before meal time, try drinking a glass of water. It fills you up and can stave off those hunger pangs. Bottom line: Drinking water helps you feel and look your healthiest. Who wouldn’t want that?
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