You may not know it, but the majority of your body composition is water. For the average person, around 60% of their total body weight is composed of water. Water plays a major role in many bodily functions. These include transporting nutrients, regulating your temperature and aiding in the removal of waste. Your body causes losses of water throughout the day – this occurs in the form of urinating, sweating and even breathing.
The act of respiration itself uses a significant amount of water. It is therefore essential to maintain your water levels throughout the day. Mild dehydration is very common and can cause symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches and dry skin. But, you may be wondering how much water is optimum for staying clear of dehydration throughout the day.
What is the Recommended Amount of Water?
The amount of water required for a healthy adult has been subject to much discussion and has even changed throughout recent decades. There is conflicting advice out there which can make it difficult to gauge what the optimum levels of water intake are. There isn’t a one size fits all approach because there are environmental and physical factors to consider. For example, those living in a hot climate will require more water as will professional athletes who are training. Those who live in cooler climates and live sedentary lifestyles may need slightly less water. It is essential.
You should also remember that your water intake won’t just come from one source. We tend to forget the other ways we also consume liquids that contribute to our total intake. It is crucial to take into account that roughly 20% of your total water intake will come from foods. The rest will come from all liquid substances which can include, tea, coffee, juices, and milk.
The ideal level of water intake has been hotly debated. However, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy conducted in-depth research which took into account many years of evidence. They came up with the ideal figures for water intake. They have measured water intake in cups. The amount of water contained in one cup is around 250ml /8 ounces. They came to the following conclusions for the recommended daily intake of water:
How do I Know if my Water Intake is Enough?
The research from the Institute of Medicine also concluded that most people are kept sufficiently hydrated due to their thirst levels. This is usually a good regulator for whether you are getting enough water. However, there is also another reliable gauge for monitoring your water intake levels. The color of your urine can offer a big clue as to whether you are getting enough water. A hydrated person will have clear urine whereas yellow urine would indicate that water intake is not enough.
It is important to note that there can be other factors that influence urine color. These can include those taking dietary supplements that are known to affect the color of urine. There are also certain types of prescription medication that can have side effects which change the color of your urine. Lastly, people with kidney problems or other major health issues should speak to a health professional as their recommended levels of water intake may differ from the average person. Here we list the key indicators that show you should be upping your water levels.
1. Feeling Thirsty
The most obvious indicator for needing to up your water intake is thirst. The mechanism for thirst is relatively complex, and the body has evolved this impulse as a way of survival. Most people aren’t thirsty for too long, and they will usually quell the sensation. However, there are people in certain parts of the world who do not have easy access to drinking water. Thirst is a natural response to being dehydrated, and you should follow it. However, those with certain health problems and those who are older can have issues with recognizing thirst. The lack of thirst shouldn’t automatically be seen as being a sign of sufficient hydration.
2. Having an Unusually Dry Mouth Coupled with Bad Breath
Water is crucial for saliva production. The absence of water can lead to a dry mouth which can allow odor creating bacteria to thrive which can lead to bad breath and halitosis. A dry mouth is also common in the nighttime so it can be helpful to keep a bottle of water nearby.
3. Brain Fog
Dehydration can cause problems with concentration. A mere 2% reduction in body fluid can cause major problems with thinking in a clear manner. If you have noticed brain fog, then it might be time to go to the water cooler and refresh yourself.
4. Physically Active
If you are exercising or working in a physically demanding job, then you will need more water than usual to replace the water lost in sweat. It is ideal to drink more water (around 2 -3 cups) before the physical activity begins. You can then supplement this with regular water breaks every 15 minutes.
5. Hot Climate
The system that regulates your internal body temperature reacts to the environment outside of it. More fluid will be required in warmer climates. Therefore, the water intake will have to also adapt to environmental conditions. If you’re stuck in an unusually hot area that lacks air conditioning, then it is vital to increase your water intake. Your fluid requirements increase significantly with any prolonged exposure to hot environments.
6. High altitude
Respiration works differently at high elevation levels. The process of respiration requires more water at higher altitudes and therefore you would need to increase your intake to compensate for this. The higher the altitude, the more significant the impact would be. Any hike should be well planned with sufficient levels of water brought along.
7. Illnesses and Infections
Illnesses and infections can cause you to shed more water than usual. A fever can quickly cause someone to be dehydrated. It is essential to sip on fluids regularly to stop any risk of dehydration as this can make the condition even worse. It is also important to remember to see a health professional if your fever does not improve within two days.
8. Dealing with Diarrhea
Diarrhea can occur for a multitude of reasons. These can include infections or food poisoning. While your body fights whatever has caused it, it will use up a lot more water. It is crucial to be hydrated if you are suffering from diarrhea. It can quickly lead to your fluid levels dropping substantially.
9. Dehydration from a hangover
A night of drinking can sometimes be accompanied by the familiar feeling of a hangover. Many of the effects you experience are actually due to dehydration. You can quicken the recovery process by upping your fluid levels. A way to lessen the effects of a potential hangover is to space out your drinking with water in between.
Pregnant women require around 10 cups of water a day. However, you should discuss this with a health professional who can give you a clearer number that suits your individual circumstances.
The composition of breast milk is mainly water, and therefore it is crucial to keep your water levels topped up. The recommendation for mothers who are breastfeeding is to get 13 cups of beverages a day.
12. Coffee and Energy Drinks
Caffeine is a natural diuretic which means it will make you urinate more frequently. Your body is usually good at adapting to increased caffeine levels due to the liquid that goes along with beverages such as coffee. However, taking caffeine supplements or energy drinks usually requires an extra amount of fluid to compensate.
13. Vomiting or Nausea
If you are going through any vomiting episodes, it is essential to increase your water intake. You may even need an oral rehydration solution if your dehydration becomes severe. Increasing your water intake can reduce the symptoms of Nausea.
14. Feeling Hungry
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. This causes people to overeat instead of tackling what their body is actually asking for. Next time you feel hungry, you should have a glass of water first and see if the feeling satiates you. Drinking water before a meal can help you eat less which can be useful when trying to lose weight.
15. When You Wake Up
Drinking water right after getting up can help you be more alert and reduce the chance of a headache. Many people feel tired in the morning, but they are often dehydrated. A cool cup of water right up awakening can make you feel a lot better.
16. When You go to Bed
You should also have a sip of water right before going to bed. This can help you to get better rest and more complete sleep. Dehydration can interfere with sleep and therefore a bit of water before bed can aid in getting high-quality sleep. It is important not to overdo this as it’s easy to overdrink which will wake you up in the night.
If you are feeling dizzy all of a sudden, then you should sit down and have a cool glass of water. Mild dehydration can cause dizzying sensations and confusion. The solution to this will be to rest and have a drink of water.
18. No Tears when Crying
A classic sign of dehydration is not having any tears when crying. We don’t tend to pay attention to this but it can be a vital clue that your water intake is below your requirements. If you notice this, then you should drink some water.
You will now have a better understanding of the importance of drinking water and the situations that can hint at dehydration. It is important to stay consistent throughout the day with your water intake, but it is also crucial to remember not to make yourself overhydrated. Water is the substance that gives us life and we should always remember its importance.