The body is about 60% water, give or take. You are constantly losing water from your body, primarily via urine and sweat. To prevent dehydration, you need to drink adequate amounts of water.
There are many different opinions on how much water you should be drinking every day.
Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember.
However, some health gurus believe that you need to sip on water constantly throughout the day, even when you’re not thirsty.
As with most things, this depends on the individual. Many factors (both internal and external) ultimately affect your need for water.
This article takes a look at some water intake studies to separate fact from fiction and explains how to easily match water intake to your individual needs.
Many people claim that if you don’t stay hydrated throughout the day, your energy levels and brain function start to suffer.
And there are plenty of studies to support this.One study in women showed that a fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise impaired mood and concentration and increased the frequency of headaches.
Other studies show that mild dehydration (1–3% of body weight) caused by exercise or heat can harm many other aspects of brain function.
Keep in mind that just 1% of body weight is a fairly significant amount. This happens primarily when you’re sweating a lot.
Mild dehydration can also negatively affect physical performance, leading to reduced endurance.
There’s not much in this world more refreshing than a tall, ice-cold glass of water. I don’t think there’s anyone alive that can deny that sometimes, a simple glass of water can be more satisfying than a cup of coffee or a can of soda.
Despite this, too many of us don’t drink enough water on a daily basis. By depriving ourselves of the world’s most natural resource, we are continuously damaging our bodies. If you experience any of the following, you can improve your situation by starting with a glass of H2O.
Your Mouth is Dry
This seems pretty obvious, but the ramifications might not be so. Of course, any time you feel that sticky, nasty feeling in your mouth, you’d obviously reach for some sort of liquid. But sugary drinks are only a temporary solution to a larger problem. Drinking water lubricates the mucus membranes in your mouth and throat, which will continue to keep your mouth moist with saliva long after that first sip.
Your Skin is Dry
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so of course it needs to stay hydrated. In fact, dry skin is one of the earliest signs of full-on dehydration, which can lead to much larger problems. A lack of water means a lack of sweat, which leads to a body’s inability to wash away excess dirt and oil accumulated throughout the day. If you want to stave off breakouts, your first recourse should be to drink more water.
You are Thirsty
We went over dry mouth already, but thirst goes beyond a desert-like tongue. Anyone who’s ever had a hangover can tell you that, upon waking up, your body just can’t get enough water. Alcohol dehydrates the entire body, and drinking water sends “YES PLEASE!” signals to the brain until your fluid levels get back to baseline. Listen to what your body is telling you; it knows what it’s talking about!
Your Eyes Are Dry
By now it should be clear that drinking water affects more than just your mouth and throat. A lack of water intake leads to dry, bloodshot eyes (again, think of that last pounding hangover). Without water in the body, your tear ducts dry up. If you’re thinking “So what if I can’t cry?”, realize that this could cause much more harm to your eyes, especially if you wear contacts on a daily basis.
You Experience Joint Pain
Our cartilage and spinal discs are made up of about 80% water. This is an absolute necessity to keep our bones from grinding against each other with every step we take. By keeping your body hydrated, you ensure that your joints can absorb the shock of sudden movements, such as running, jumping, or falling awkwardly.
You Feel Fatigued and Lethargic
As we just mentioned, when a body is dehydrated it “borrows” water from your blood. A lack of properly hydrated blood leads to a lack of oxygen being brought throughout the body. Of course, a lack of oxygen leads to sleepiness and outright fatigue. A lack of stamina means you”ll start to experience that 2PM crash earlier and earlier in your day (and remember, coffee won’t help in the long run).
Does More Water Help Prevent Health Problems?
Several health problems supposedly respond well to increased water intake:
- Constipation: Increasing water intake can help with constipation, a very common problem.
- Cancer: Some studies show that those who drink more water have a lower risk of bladder and colorectal cancer, although other studies find no effect.
- Kidney stones: Increased water intake may decrease the risk of kidney stones.
- Acne and skin hydration: There are a lot of anecdotal reports about how water can help hydrate the skin and reduce acne. So far, no studies have confirmed or refuted this.
How Much Water Is Best?
At the end of the day, no one can tell you exactly how much water you need. This depends on the individual.
Try experimenting to see what works best for you. Some people may function better with more water than usual, while for others it only results in more frequent trips to the bathroom.
If you want to keep things simple, these guidelines should apply to the majority of people:
- When you’re thirsty, drink.
- When you’re not thirsty anymore, stop.
- During high heat and exercise, make sure to drink enough to compensate for the lost fluids.