Water is a major component of the body and makes up about 60% of your total body weight. Water drives almost every cellular process that takes place in the body, and when you don't consume enough of it, these processes suffer. Experts in Nutrition Response Testing like Dr. Lonny are adept at helping you understand how nutrition and hydration affect your body.
As critical as water is to the proper function of the body, we naturally lose a lot of it throughout the day via urination and perspiration (sweating). To avoid dehydration, we need to replenish the lost water by consuming an appropriate amount on a daily basis.
As with most things in life, every individual's water needs vary. It differs from one person to the next depending on factors like sex, age, health status, level of daily activity, and geography. Though there is no universal figure for the amount of water that needs to be consumed, although common recommendations are to consume 8 eight-ounce glasses (2 liters) per day. Having good knowledge of how your body uses fluids will help you come up with a reasonable estimate of how much water you need to consume daily.
How Much Water Is Recommended For The Average Person?
Every day, we lose water to perspiration, urination, and respiration (breathing), and other processes. Because of this, we need to take in water, electrolytes (which aid in retention of appropriate hydration levels in the body), and the right foods to compensate for the loss.
So...How much water does a healthy adult need daily?
It varies from person to person and will depend on a lot of factors, but the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends the following daily fluid intake:
3.7 liters (about 15.5 cups) for men
2.7 liters (11.5 cups) for women
This recommended daily fluid intake encompasses, water, beverages, and food, and while about 80% of daily fluid intake comes from water, 20% is gotten from drinks, food, and other sources.
How Much Water is Too Much?
Your fluid intake is most likely sufficient if you don't feel thirsty, or your urine is light yellow, or colorless altogether. This infographic from Children's Health is a great way to monitor your hydration:
Although it rarely happens, it is possible to suffer a medical condition known as hyponatremia if you consume water in excess. Hyponatremia is a condition where the sodium levels in your blood drop due to the inability of the kidney to excrete excess water.
Hyponatremia is a life-threatening disease, and athletes are more at risk of suffering from this condition - especially when preparing for or recovering from intense workouts or endurance exercises.
What Determines Daily Water Intake Levels?
Water aside, all forms of fluids that you consume during the day count towards the amount of water you need for that day. Some beverage like sports drinks, some juices/teas, and even the food you eat contribute to your water intake.
Vegetables and fruits like spinach and watermelon are water-rich, so when you consume them, they decrease your required fluid intake for the day.
Your daily water needs will vary based on several factors. You will need to modify your daily fluid intake based on the following factors:
- Environment: If you reside in a hot or humid environment, you will tend to sweat more, hence will need to take a lot more water than the average healthy person. Living in areas of high altitudes also causes dehydration. This occurs because, with less atmospheric pressure, your sweat evaporates more quickly (sometimes without you even knowing you are sweating). This leads to decreased hydration levels, that you may not even be aware of!
- Health Status: When a person is down with a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, he/she will lose a lot of body fluids and will need to consume lots of water to replace the lost fluids. Alternatively, the person can follow an oral rehydration program, under the supervision of a Doctor, to meet required body fluid levels. Some other health conditions like a bladder infection and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) will increase the need for more water intake.
- Exercise: When you engage in intensive exercise or any physical activity that makes you sweat a lot, it's important to take plenty of water to replenish the body fluid loss. Experts recommend that you take water before, during, and after intensive exercise.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women or nursing mothers are advised to consume more fluids to stay hydrated. The Office on Women's Health recommends that nursing mothers consume about 3.1 liters of fluids daily, while pregnant women are to consume 2.4 liters of water daily.
How to Cut Out Soda
Though some juices, teas, and sports drinks (like Gatorade) can move you closer to your daily fluid intake needs, they should be taken with moderation and supplemented with water. Other beverages, especially soda, can dehydrate you quickly. Due to its availability and calorie-free nature, water remains the best option for staying safely hydrated and meeting your daily fluid needs.
If you do consume a lot of soda and looking for a way to reduce your daily consumption levels, here are some tips to help:
- Take note of your daily soda consumption. Track the number of soda cans or bottles you take in a day and write it down.
- After you have tracked your daily consumption for a week, multiply the number by 52, then divide by 12 to get accurate data on your weekly consumption. The number you get will likely scare you.
- In the coming week, reduce your weekly average by one can or bottle.
- Repeat this the next week.
- Continue to incrementally reduce your weekly intake until you hit one can/bottle per week.
In addition, humans are creatures of habit. We like to have a drink of some form in our hands while we sit on the couch to watch TV, and overtime, we form it into a habit.
To help kill the habit of sitting with soda, you can buy a fridge with a dispenser, or a chilled water filter. When next you want to sit on the couch to watch tv, get a cup of chilled water with a slice of lime, and you are good to go!