It is a bright sunny day and the park is filled with the young and old out for a walk or run. Perspiration begins to show on foreheads and t-shirts. To combat the effects of this exertion there are water bottles in hand and water fountains scattered around the park.
This is how we most commonly think of water loss from the body, through a good sweat. However, the body loses water all day and night, whether or not you are engaged in exertive activity. Water loss happens through urine, digestion, and even, simply, through breathing. This natural water loss means humans need to continuously refill their body with the life-sustaining fluid, and many people rightfully think, how much water should I drink.
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How the Body Uses Water
The human body is about 60% water . That means that more than muscle, skin, or organ tissue, the body is composed of water. The body uses this essential liquid to regulate its internal temperature and lubricate joints. The liver and kidneys use water to properly digest food ultimately remove waste and toxins .
As well, water is part of what composes our blood and supports proper circulation . The brain is nearly 70% water, which means that the body even needs water to think and process thoughts and ideas . In fact, water is needed all the way down to the cellular level. When there is a lack of water, all of these bodily functions begin to slow down or perform at a lower level.
How Much Water Is the Right Amount
While we all know that water is necessary and essential for peak performance by the body, how much water should I drink on a given day is a tricky topic. There is a long-standing recommendation that people consume eight glasses of eight ounces of water a day. This rule is commonly called the 8×8 rule .
The 8×8 rule has been prescribed by doctors, touted by health professionals, and recommended by nutrionists and fitness gurus. This common advice encourages people to consider daily how much water should I drink and the amount of liquid they consume. However, over time, nutritionists have determined that the 8×8 rule is only a starting point for nailing the right amount of water a person should drink.
Today, experts regularly recommend patients and clients consume as much as 2.7 liters of water for adult females and even more for men . This is a much higher recommendation of daily water consumption than the 8×8 rule, which shows these are suggestions, more than absolute rules. This is because blanket recommendations of 64 or 92 ounces are not applicable to every adult man or woman.
Appropriate daily water intake can vary from person to person because everybody is different.
Why Every Person’s Water Needs Are Different
There are a number of factors that can affect the question of how much water should I drink on a daily basis. Many of these are external elements that are related to where a person lives and works, while others are based on an individual’s lifestyle. Some of these factors are sex, weight, diet, caffeine and sodium consumed, age, amount of sleep each night, climate, and level of activity or exercise .
As these factors change, which some such as diet, exercise, and outside temperature can vary daily, the amount of water that should be consumed also fluctuates. For example, if the climate is exceptionally humid on a certain day, those who work outside or exercise outdoors will definitely need to consume more water than on a mild, cool day.
In addition to all of these things, people naturally retain different amounts of water . This means that how much water you should drink each day truly is unique to every person. Despite the fact that there is no “one size fits all” answer to how much water is enough on a given day, there are some signs when a person’s water intake is insufficient.
Signs of Dehydration
In answering the question of how much water should I drink, many people look for the physical signs of dehydration. The most obvious is thirst itself. The desire for a glass of water is a common occurrence, and it should not be ignored. However, the body gives us multiple signs that it needs a long, cool drink of water.
One way to detect a shortage of water is by taking a quick look at the color of your urine. Ideally, urine should be a light yellow color, similar to lemonade. If urine is darker, then the body is craving water .
Other physical manifestations of dehydration can be hard bowel movements, a headache, dry mouth, feeling light-headed, or feeling fatigue . Some people feel hungry when they need water, and it is a common misconception to overeat or consume unnecessary calories, instead of giving your body what it truly desires, more fluids.
The Rare Case of Over-Consumption of Water
As the invention of the 8×8 rule shows, most people question how much water should I drink and not meeting the requisite amounts of water consumption, this can be particularly true for those who exercise on a daily or regular basis. However, as nutritionists began to recommend greater and greater volume of water consumption, a few people began to drink too much of this necessary resource, many of whom are athletes .
Over consumption of water drives down sodium levels, and can mean the body loses water more quickly, rather than retaining too much water. This is known as hypernatremia. It is rare that someone consumes a dangerous amount of water, but for optimal body performance, it is best to find a balance.
What many people forget is that their bodies received water and fluids through sources other than a glass of water . There is water in all beverages, in amounts that vary by type of drink . There are certain foods that contain a lot of water, as well. Often, vegetables and fruits fall in this category, such as celery and watermelon.
The Short Answer
The appropriate answer to how much water should I drink on a daily basis is that which makes you feel satisfied and healthy. The best way to consume the appropriate amount of water is to start monitoring your intake on a daily basis. Unless you are already experiencing some of the signs of dehydration, consume the amount of water you have in the past .
Then, most nutritionists recommend ensuring you are drinking water throughout the day . This means stopping at the water fountain, refilling a water bottle at your desk, and not ignoring a feeling of thirst or dry mouth. Most people who simply think about how much water should I drink and their intake throughout the day will find their fluid intake is sufficient and satisfying for optimal physical performance.