Water; How Much Do You Need to Drink?

water_drinkWater comprises two thirds of the body’s mass. It is the most necessary element for survival next to air.

Water is required for the elimination of toxins and waste through the digestive system, lymph system, liver, kidneys, and sweat glands.  It also promotes metabolism, provides oxygen to cells, and fills spaces inside/between cells for healthy skin & toned muscle.

Deficiencies in water can result in excess body fat, poor muscle tone, digestive diseases, muscle pain, and water-retention. And being dehydrated can really increase stress, further impacting your health.

The amount of water that your body eliminates each day is somewhere between 1 and 3 liters, the equivalent of four to thirteen 8 oz. glasses of water per day.  The US FDA recommends that women drink 11 glasses and men drink 16 glasses of water each day to stay hydrated.

The general recommendation is that you should consume 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight (30ml/kg) per day (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses for a 160 pound person), unless you are athletically active, in which case you should drink 2/3 ounces per pound (13 to 14 glasses a day at 160 lbs of body wieght).

Other Sources

Part of your daily water consumption may also be from foods and juices. A bowl of oatmeal, or a cup of soup, provides 8 oz. of water. A serving of broccoli or spinach, or a cup of rice, provides 5 oz. of water. Many fresh vegetables and fruits contain 3-5 oz. of water. For example, an apple or a pear contain 5 oz.

Other foods are not as hydrating, such as an egg, which provides about an ounce of water, or a slice of pizza, providing only about an ounce. Snacking on chips provides virtually none.

Some people argue that tea, soft drinks and coffee do not count, however this is in itself arguable. Although these contain caffeine, a known diuretic, which cause the body to expel a small amount of moisture, they do still provide additional fluids.

Juices are also ok, but one should keep in mind the amount of fructose concentrated in a glass of juice.  The body has a lot of work to do to process the sugar that is concentrated in a glass of juice. When eating a piece of fruit, the liver has time to process the fructose into energy, but when consuming a single glass of juice, which may contain the fructose of up to six pieces of fruit, the liver becomes taxed and turns most of that fructose into fat.

Distilled, purified or reverse-osmosis water is still water. It is the H2O we’re talking about here as a requirement. However, reverse-osmosis water in particular is devoid of essential minerals that we commonly get from water as one primary source. In this case these minerals must be supplemented.

Signs of Dehydration

Two indicators of advancing dehydration are headaches, and dark colored urine. Thirst is a good indicator of the early stages of dehydration, and you should drink if you are thirsty.

Some suggestions have been made that by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated, but your body creates the sensation of thirst when your body is still within normal hydration limits. However if you are actively exercising you should make it a point to stay ahead of the thirst so that the dehydration does not get ahead of you as you are sweating.

So staying hydrated is not as difficult as one might think. An extra glass or two over what you normally consume in food and fluids may be enough.

But you definitely don’t want to drink yourself into being over hydrated. This can cause hyponatremia, a shortage of sodium and other essential minerals in the bloodstream. This is particularly dangerous during exercise, because these minerals are excreted through the sweat glands.

And because these minerals are necessary for maintaining brain and heart functions, deficiencies can cause serious problems (see the post in this blog on Essential Minerals).

A friend of mine, Dr. Doug Willan has provided a couple of videos on drinking enough water, adn why you might be feeling thirsty! Thanks Dr. Doug!

Keep hydrated and stay healthy!

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