How Much Water to Drink

It’s a question that seems to return a different answer every time it is asked and one that can lead to a lot of confusion as a result: just how much water should you drink? What is the optimum amount for your health, should you be drinking more when you exercise and if you live in a hot climate, and how much water is too much?

Why Water is Essential

Water really is the essence of life and without it our bodies struggle. They use water to process waste, to regulate body temperature, to lubricate joints and to protect sensitive tissues. Our bodies are 60% water and this is constantly being renewed and refreshed by the water that we consume on a daily basis.

Dehydration is more common than you might think, and it is also decidedly more deadly than we tend to realize. If you consume just a fraction less than what your body needs there will be ramifications. At best it will make you drained and tired, but if you drink even less and continue to deprive your body of this essential element, then your organs can begin to shut down. Of course, it takes a severe case of dehydration for this to occur, but you will still feel the effects of inadequate water consumption in less severe cases.

How Much Water Should We Drink?

On average, this is what your water consumption should look like every day:

  • Men: 15.5 Cups (3.7 liters)
  • Women: 11.5 Cup (2.7 liters)

If you’re in the UK or other parts of Europe, this may seem a little extreme, and it is. Because in cold climates you perspire less, which means your body requires less. In the UK, the recommended intake is usually listed as between 1.2 liters and 2 liters. Of course, there are other factors that can change this as well.

If it’s a very hot day or if you are a very active person, then you will perspire a lot more and need to drink a lot more as a result. And to confuse matters even further, the amount listed above is not necessarily how much water you need to be drinking, but how much fluids your body needs. This is important because your body gets fluids from food and from other liquids. In other words, you don’t need to worry about consuming 15+ cups of water if you are not active, not perspiring, and you are consuming a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, teas, fruit juices and coffee.

Is There An Easier Way to Know How Much Water to Drink?

The reason the advice on how much water to drink changes so much is because it’s not a straightforward answer. It is different for everyone and it depends on how you spend your day. However, the good thing to note is that consuming a gallon more than you need is not going to do you any harm if it is consumed over the course of a day.

There is no easy way to determine exactly how much you need, but you can listen to your body and try to get a feel for when you are under or over-hydrated. For instance, drinking several gallons of water in one go is just going to result in a full bladder. It’s overcompensating and if you don’t drink anything else for the rest of the day, it’s not going to do you much good.

If, however, you drink steadily throughout the day and then consume more when you’re sweating heavily through heat or exertion, then you’ll be hydrating yourself properly. Your urine can also tell you whether you are properly hydrated or not. The waste that comes out in your urine should be diluted. In other words, it should not smell strongly, it should not be yellow or orange. It’s fine for this to happen in the morning, but your goal should be to consume enough water throughout the day so that future visits to the toilet are a little less…illuminating.

But before you start refilling those 2 gallon containers and knocking them back at every given opportunity, there is something very important to consider:

Too Much Water Can Kill You:

If you drink too much water then you will dilute essential minerals in your body. The sodium content of your blood will plummet and this will trigger serious and even fatal issues. It’s a worrying fact, but it shouldn’t stop you from regularly hydrating yourself, because dehydration is far more common and if you are a fit and healthy person then it takes a ridiculous amount of water for you to be at risk of serious overhydration.

The only cases that exist of overhydration occurring in healthy individuals have been the result of “challenges” whereby the victims have forced themselves to drink an excessive amount of water and to then hold it in. There are also overhydration cases involving athletes and people with poorly functioning kidneys.

To be at risk for this you would need to drink more than 6 gallons of water a day on a regular basis and to be at risk of immediate death you would have to drink an equally excessive amount in a single sitting.

There is a huge grey area between “properly hydrated” and “over-hydrated”, so there is plenty of room for you to ensure that you get more than enough, but that you don’t suffer any ill effects from getting too much.

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