Give or take, the human body is made of about 60% water. Through daily activity, we constantly lose water from our bodies especially through urine and sweat. While there are several opinions on how much water one should drink every day, the health authorities usually recommend eight 8-ounce glasses everyday, which equals to half a gallon or about 2 liters.
This is commonly termed as the 8x8 rule and is quite easy to remember. However, several heath gurus and professionals are of the opinion that we need to constantly sip on water throughout the day. According to them, we are always on the brink of dehydration and need to constantly sip on water even if we are not thirsty. Several factors, both internal and external affect our need for water. This may vary among individuals.
Staying Hydrated Increases Energy Levels
Do you feel lazy and lethargic throughout the day? Well, perhaps it is an indication of dehydration. Not drinking enough water can cause brain function and energy levels to suffer and there are several studies to prove it. According to one study, women suffered fluid loss of 1.36% after exercising. The dehydration in turn also took a toll on their mood and concentration, which also resulted in frequent headaches.
Other studies highlighted how mild dehydration caused by heat and exercise negatively affects several aspects of brain function. Mild dehydration also hinders physical performance, resulting in reduced endurance. One should thus sip on water regularly throughout the day.
Do We Only Have to Drink Water to Stay Hydrated
While all liquids and fluids help you stay hydrated, water is considered the best choice. Mainly because water is free from all kinds of sugars and calories. Most healthy people get enough fluids through the drinks and beverages they consume every day. This includes water, coffee, iced teas, sodas and fruit juices. Drinking moderate amounts of caffeine containing drinks (200 to 300 milligrams) a day does not lead to dehydration.
You can thus increase your water intake by drinking other healthy beverages. Some fruits and vegetables also have very high water content such as lettuce and watermelon.
So, How Much Water do You Actually Need to Drink
A common recommendation is to stick to the usual eight 8-ounces of water every day. However, some adults and children may require less or more, depending on their health, level of activity and how hot and dry the weather is.
Individuals may need increase their water intake if they:
- Exercise vigorously, especially in hot weather
- Are ill such as being down with the flu or are suffering from a health problem such as urinary tract infection
- Are pregnant or nursing young ones
Why Is It Importance to Get Enough Water
Staying hydrated and drinking enough water keeps your body in working order. This helps flush out toxins from the body, preventing diseases such as constipation and kidney stones.
As mentioned earlier, we suffer from significant water loss through daily activities. In addition to breath, bowel movements, sweat and urine, you are bound to lose more fluid of you live in a hot climate. If you do not drink enough water, you can suffer from dehydration.
When dehydrated, the body no longer has enough fluids to transport blood to your organs. This is highly dangerous and can have detrimental effects on your health. Dehydration can have severe effects on your kidney and other organs in the body. Here are some dangerous effects of dehydration:
- Since blood constitutes of 90% water, dehydration can cause the blood to become thicker. This increases blood pressure, making you susceptible to heart diseases.
- Water plays an important role in digestion and bowel movement. The bowel needs sufficient amount of water to function properly. If dehydrated, you can suffer from digestive problems such as constipation. Not getting enough fluids in the body can lead to any overly acidic stomach, which increases the risk of heartburn. This promotes the development of stomach ulcers.
- Dehydration makes the skin more vulnerable to aging, premature wrinkling and other skin disorders.
- Dehydration causes the airways in the lungs to become restricted, in an effort to reduce water loss. This increases the risks of respiratory diseases and potentially makes allergies and asthma worse.
- Drinking sufficient amount of water improves bone health. Cartilages found in the disks of the spine and in joints comprises of almost 80% water. On-going dehydration reduces the efficiency of joints, making them less capable at shock absorption, leading to terrible joint pain.
- Staying hydrated and drinking enough water can have a drastic effect on brain function and structure. Once the body becomes dehydrated, one’s cognitive ability becomes impaired, affecting memory, decision making skills, etc.
Signs of Dehydration
Thirst is not the most reliable indicator of the body’s need for more water. Several people, practically the elderly do not feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated. This is why you need to increase water intake during hot climates or when you are ill.
If you suffer from the following, you need to start gulping on more water:
- Dry Mouth
- Sky and scaly skin
- Experience joint pain
- Are unable to recover from sickness and have a poor immune system
- Often feel fatigued and lethargic
- Suffer from digestive problems
- Premature aging
- Chemical imbalances
To ensure, you get enough drinking water, make sure to keep a record of your daily fluid intake. Men typically require more water because of the increased muscle mass than women. You may also include water-rich foods in your diet such as watery soups, fruits and vegetables to help you reach your daily water total.
Increase your water intake according to the weather, your health and level of physical activity. Needless to say, an athlete or somebody who works out on the sun all day will need to drink more water as compared to someone who stays inactive at home.