Just how much water do you need?

There are apparently no “easy” answers to how much water we really need every day. How much you should drink depends upon your health, how active you are and even where you live. No particular formula will fit every person, and knowing more about your own body’s need for fluids can help you to estimate the amount you should be drinking.

The body’s principal chemical component that makes up about 69% of your body weight is water. Every one of your body’s systems depends on water. The water flushes out the toxins from vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. If you lack this necessary fluid, it can lead to dehydration, and even that mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

You lose water every day through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movement and need to replenish that fluid consistently. The Institute of Medicine released their determination that an adequate intake (Al) for men is about 13 cups of total fluid per day and for women about 9 cups. The 8 ounce glasses of water a day rule is easy to remember, but not supported by hard evidence.

These are some factors that influence water needs.

  • Exercise-makes you sweat

  • Intense exercise-need extra water to replace sodium lost

  • Environment-hot or humid weather makes you lose more fluid

  • Illnesses or health conditions-fever, vomiting & diarrhea

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding

Water isn’t the only source to rely on to meet your fluid needs. Even what you eat provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. About 20% of total water intake is provided by food, and many fruits and vegetables are 90% or more water by weight. Even milk and juice are mostly water. Beer, wine and caffeinated beverages can contribute, but should not be a major portion of your daily fluid intake.

To ward off dehydration and insuring that your body has the proper fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice along with the following:

  • Drink a glass of water or a calorie-free beverage with each meal and between each meal.

  • Drink water before, during and after you exercise.

You really can drink too much water, even though it is uncommon. If this happens it is difficult for your kidneys to excrete the excess water and the electrolyte content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood. This creates a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes drink large amounts and are at higher risk of this condition. Generally, drinking too much is rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.

Try drinking more water, less diet soda and eat those fruits and veggies that are high in water content. Keep your body healthy. And always remember that cancer loves sugar, so avoid those liquids high on the glycemic index!

–Dr Fredda Branyon

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