You have probably wondered how much water should you drink a day at one point or another. Most people know that it’s important to drink plenty of fluids when the temperatures soar outside. But what most fail to acknowledge is that staying hydrated is a daily necessity, no matter what the thermometer says. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t getting enough to drink, especially adults. Dr. Julian Seifter, a kidney specialist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School found that “Older people don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. And that could be a problem if they’re on a medication that may cause fluid loss, such as a diuretic”. So then how does one know much water they should drink?
Let’s start with why drinking water is beneficial:
Benefits of drinking water
Water keeps every system in the body functioning properly such as:
- carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- flushing bacteria from your bladder
- aiding digestion
- preventing constipation
- normalizing blood pressure
- stabilizing the heartbeat
- cushioning joints
- protecting organs and tissues
- regulating body temperature
- maintaining electrolyte (sodium) balance.
Giving your body enough fluids to carry out these tasks means that you’re staying hydrated. If one doesn’t drink enough water each day, you risk becoming dehydrated. Warning signs of dehydration include weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, or urine that’s dark in color. So how much water should you drink?
How much water should you drink a day?
Most people need about four to six cups of water each day. The daily four-to-six cup rule is for generally healthy people. It’s possible to take in too much water if you have certain health conditions, such as thyroid disease or kidney, liver, or heart problems; or if you’re taking medications that make you retain water.
But even a healthy person’s water needs will vary, especially if you’re losing water through sweat because you’re exercising, or because you’re outside on a hot day. If you’re wondering how much water you should drink on those occasions, a general rule of thumb for healthy people is to drink two to three cups of water per hour, or more if you’re sweating heavily. You can generally tell when your water intake is becoming low if you start feeling less energetic or lethargic.
Tips for avoiding dehydration
It’s not just water that keeps one hydrated. All beverages containing water contribute to your daily needs. And it’s a myth that caffeinated beverages or those containing alcohol are dehydrating because they make you urinate. They do, but over the course of the day, the water from these beverages still leads to a positive contribution to total fluid consumption.
Of course, there are many reasons why water is still the better choice. One reason is that sugary drinks can lead to weight gain and inflammation, which can increase the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes. Too much caffeine can give one the jitters or keep them from sleeping. And, alcohol intake should be limited to one drink per day for women, and 1-2 drinks per day for men. To avoid dehydration, one should drink fluids gradually throughout the day at a steady pace rather than drinking three cups in one hour and then going without water for three to four hours. An easy way to do this is to have a drink at each meal, as well as socially, or with medicine. Another way to make sure you reach your daily intake levels is to consume water-rich foods, such as salads, fruit, and applesauce. The best way to remember to drink enough water in the modern world is to just set a reminder to drink a glass of water on your technological devices every hour.