Monday, June 02, 2008
How much water should you drink each day
A simple question with no easy answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
Though no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body's need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.
There are a variety of reasons to drink plenty of water each day. Adequate water intake prevents dehydration, cleans out the body, and promotes healing processes. Substituting water for beverages high in calories can also help control weight.
Follow the steps below to make sure you're getting enough of this most basic necessity.
1. Determine how much water you need. You've probably heard the "8 by 8" rule - drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day (2 qts, 1.8 l) - but the amount of water a person needs varies depending on his or her weight and activity level. Another way to determine your specific recommended water intake is to divide your weight (in pounds) by two. The resulting number is the number of ounces of water you need each day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., strive to drink 75 ounces of water daily. For those who use the Metric system, divide your weight (in kilograms) by 30 (ex. somebody weighing 70 kg is going to need 2.3 litres per day). Keep in mind that these recommended intake numbers are controversial and some experts believe they are a gross exaggeration. See "warnings" below for more information.
2. Measure your daily intake of water. Do this for a few days. If you find that you're drinking less than the recommended quantity, try some of the following tips:
3. Carry water with you everywhere you go in a bottle or other container. Before long, you'll find yourself reaching for it without a second thought.
4. Keep a glass or cup of water next to you whenever you'll be sitting down for a long time, such as when you're at your desk at work. Drink from it regularly as you're working.
5. Try wearing a digital watch that beeps at the beginning of each hour. Use that as a reminder to pour yourself a glass of water. Vow to drink that water before the next beep. If you drink only one small (6 ounce or 180 ml) cup per hour, you'll have consumed 48 ounces (1.4 l) by the end of an 8-hour workday.
6. Get a water purification system. Purified water tastes very good and may help make drinking water more appealing to you. Be aware, though, that as you grow accustomed to purified water, you may find that tap water leaves a bad taste in your mouth, even though it may be better for your teeth.
7. Add lemons or limes to your water, it makes it taste better and makes you want to drink more of it. Be careful not to make it too sour, just a splash of sourness should do the trick. Cucumber slices can also be added to a glass of water. Some mint leaves can be added to a pitcher of water which should be allowed to sit overnight. These are cheap alternatives to the bottled flavored water.
8. Eat water rich foods, such as fruits like watermelon, which is 92 % water by weight. Blend up some seedless fresh watermelon flesh with some ice and place a few sprigs of mint (optional) - one of the most refreshing drinks, especially for the summertime. Cranberry juice is also another option, and has a bitter taste. Patients suffering from urinary infection caused by insufficient intake of water should drink cranberry juice and eat watermelon if not plain water everyday. A tomato is 95% water. An egg is about 74% water. An uncooked piece of lean meat is about 70% water.
9. Keep water cold, it tastes better. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator at home. Add ice or freeze water in a sports bottle before taking it with you, it will eventually melt and be cold.
* People with some heart conditions, high blood pressure or swelling of the lower legs (edema) need to avoid excess water. If you have a history of kidney problems, especially if you have had a transplant, consult your doctor before increasing your fluid intakes.
* You shouldn't drink too much water while eating as it dilutes your stomach acid and can cause digestion problems.
* Increasing your water intake may cause you to have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. To avoid this, you may want to stop drinking water a few hours before bedtime--or make sure you visit the toilet before bed!
* Dietary recommendations. The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3.0 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
* If you live in a place with a lot of heat (e.g., the desert), you will have to drink extra water.
* It is possible to "overdose" on water. Water intoxication occurs when the electrolytes in the body are so diluted that they have trouble keeping the balance of water even inside and outside of individual cells. What that means is that drinking too much water (while not getting enough electrolytes) can cause your cells to burst. If you plan on doing heavy prolonged exercise, be sure to alternate sports drinks with regular water to keep your electrolytes in balance.
* Exercise. The more you exercise, the more fluid you'll need to keep your body hydrated. An extra 1 or 2 cups of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon) requires additional fluid. How much additional fluid is needed depends on how much you sweat during the exercise, but 13 to26 ounces (or about 2 to 3 cups) an hour will generally be adequate, unless the weather is exceptionally warm.
* Crystal Lite, Gatorade and other electrolyte drinks contain acetic acid which can increase rates of tooth decay. There is no real reason to drink electrolyte drinks unless you are heavily exercising (see above).
* Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are lost especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.4 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.0 liters (about 12.5 cups) of fluids a day.
* Be aware that some elderly individuals with difficulty walking may avoid drinking adequate amounts of water, as they have difficulty transferring/walking to the bathroom. In such cases, a bedside commode may be useful. If you are caring for such an individual, encourage them to drink the necessary amount of water and reassure him/her that you can help them with the transfer to the commode.
* While adequate water is essential to health, it is possible to drink too much water or any other beverage, and there has been considerable scientific debate surrounding how much water a person really needs per day. According to Snopes - http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/8glass
es.asp - the Los Angeles Times has reported that "Kidney specialists do agree on one thing, however: that the 8-by-8 (2 L) rule is a gross overestimate of any required minimum. To replace daily losses of water, an average-sized adult with healthy kidneys sitting in a temperate climate needs no more than one liter of fluid...the equivalent of about four 8-ounce (250 ml) glasses. According to most estimates, that's roughly the amount of water most Americans get in solid food. In short, though doctors don't recommend it, many of us could cover our bare-minimum daily water needs without drinking anything during the day."