We all know that we need water to survive, and that you feel much better when you drink it regularly. It is often said that optimal hydration is crucial for our health and wellbeing, but how much water do you need to drink every day? Is the common advice to drink eight glasses of water a day true?
According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2014, total body water makes up about 45 to 75 per cent of a person’s total body weight. The study also found that muscle mass is up to 75 per cent water and makes up about 90 per cent of the weight of a person’s brain.
Needless to say, to function properly, all the cells, organs, and tissues in your body need water.
Drinking water can help you:
- Restore fluids that have been lost through metabolism, breathing, and sweating
- Flush out waste
- Regulate body temperature
- Lubricate the tissues and joints
- Prevent kidney damage
- Stabilize heart beat and heart pressure
- Maintain a healthy and beautiful skin
- Prevent constipation
- Digest properly
- Lose weight
With all these benefits, staying hydrated is especially important in our daily lives. It is the perfect zero-calorie beverage for quenching thirst and rehydrating your body.
Most people, especially those who exercise in hot weather, are concerned about not drinking enough water. But, drinking too much water can lead to serious health consequences.
Overhydration can lead to water intoxication also known as water poisoning. According to an article published in Medical News Today last May, water intoxication occurs when a large amount of fluid is ingested in a short amount of time – faster than your kidneys can process and remove it.
This leads to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia. Too much water increases the amount of water in the blood and can dilute the important electrolytes, especially sodium. The article was medically reviewed by licensed dietitian nutritionist Adrienne Seitz. She explained that sodium helps balance the fluids inside and outside of cells. When sodium levels in the body drop below 135 millimoles per liter (mmol/l) due to excessive water consumption, fluids travel from the outside to the inside of cells, causing them to swell. When this happens to brain cells, it can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
How do we know how much water is too much?
According to the Institute of Medicine, a healthy adult should drink about nine to thirteen cups of fluids per day, on average. However, it is important to remember that the amount of water you need to stay hydrated varies by age, gender, weather, your level of physical activity, and your overall health.
While the amount of water is a big factor in overhydration and water intoxication, it is not the only factor. Time also plays an important role.
The kidneys can excrete about 20-28 liters of water a day, but they can remove no more than 0.8 to 1.0 liters every hour. Thus, the maximum amount of water that a person with normal renal function can drink is 0.8 to 1 liter per hour to avoid hyponatremia symptoms. It’s important not to outpace the kidneys by drinking more water than they can eliminate.
Sports experts at Harvard recommend that a logical approach to hydration while exercising is letting thirst be your guide. Drink when you feel thirsty.
Drink fluids gradually, throughout the day to avoid dehydration, but don’t force down huge amounts in a short amount of time.
It’s not just water that keeps you hydrated. All beverages containing water contribute to your daily needs. You can also get fluids from water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
Speak with your doctor for the right amount of water you should drink as there are many health, mental, and beauty benefits to staying hydrated.
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