The body is made up of almost 2/3 water. Throughout the day, however, people lose water through urine and sweat and can risk becoming dehydrated if that water is not replenished. How much water should people be drinking every day? Is the number the same for everyone?
The 8×8 rule
The oldest rule about hydration says that everyone should drink an 8-oz glass of water 8 times per day. However, this number may vary based on a person’s physical activity, climate, and weight.
How much do I really need?
In general, a recommended daily fluid intake should be around 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women. Fluid intake refers to a combination of fluid through water, other beverages, and food. The most straightforward advice is for people to drink water whenever feeling thirsty. If someone is spending time outdoors in humidity or heat, works out strenuously, or lives at a high altitude, more water may be needed. Also, women who are breastfeeding will need more fluid daily.
Why do I need water?
Research has shown that dehydration can impair a person’s focus, mood, and increase headaches. Hydration also helps with temperature regulation, cushioning of joints, regular digestion, and getting rid of waste. Water can help decrease the risk of kidney stones, constipation, and reduce acne.
What about other fluids?
Not all hydration has to come from water. Liquids such as herbal tea, milk, and juice can also help with hydration. Even caffeinated beverages can contribute to fluid intake, as long as people are also consuming adequate H2O. Some fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and spinach, are also significant sources of fluid.
Signs of good hydration
Some people say that feeling thirst is a sign of dehydration. Typically, if a person doesn’t feel thirsty too often and urine is clear or light yellow, hydration is probably adequate.
Boosting water intake
Some people need specific reminders throughout the day to ensure adequate hydration. For example, try marking a water bottle with timestamps to ensure enough fluid intake throughout the day. Drink a glass of water with each meal and always drink water before, during, and after exercise. Some people also recommend drinking a glass of water anytime feelings of hunger arise, as thirst is often mistaken for hunger. For more information about hydration and water intake, consult a family medicine healthcare provider.