OCT 19, 2023
Unraveling the Hydration Mystery: How Much Water Do You Really Need?
How much water should you drink per day? To answer this, we need to reframe the question a bit.
How much water should you drink per day? 4-6 cups, right? Well it’s a bit of an age-old question but the truth is there’s no real one size fits all answer. And unsurprisingly that’s because we’re all different, not only in terms of our bodies, but our health conditions, age, activity levels and even where we live. After all, it goes without saying that if you live in a hot climate your water intake should be higher. So, if there’s no exact guide, how do we make sure we’re getting enough water? Good question, let’s talk about it.
The Importance of Water
Water performs so many functions, from aiding digestion to keeping our cells flowing around our body. Not to mention flushing out bacteria and regulating body temperature. And on top of that it’s a key component in normalizing blood pressure, cushioning joints, and maintaining our electrolyte balance. To say water is indispensable would be an understatement.
But water can come from multiple sources, other than straight from a glass or water bottle. Remember that 4-6 cups figure? Well it’s actually more like 15 for men and 11 for women. But before you start throwing back shots of water, you have to remember that daily fluid intake is also made up of the food we consume, as well as the beverages we drink.
Food sources like fruit and vegetables are high in water content, and stocking up on the following can really help your daily hydration:
So suddenly you can see how a delicious smoothie or a healthy salad can contribute toward your daily water requirements.
Hydration and Exercise
Anyone who’s done more than a few minutes in the gym knows sweating is inevitable. As you escalate your routine and put your body through the paces, you’re gonna sweat more and, naturally, your body will be losing not only water but plenty of important salts and minerals. Failing to replenish yourself with water after a workout can then lead to dehydration and could jeopardize the progress you’ve made.
Time for some water then? Well, yes and no. Of course, fresh water is what you need. It will keep cramps at bay, boost your energy levels and cool your body own. But water alone isn’t the only answer here. If we’re talking about exercising over an hour, you should consider the benefits of a sports drink. Working hand-in-hand with water, these drinks are able to restore carbohydrates and electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium).
But, a reminder, sports drinks aren’t a replacement for water. They’re to be drunk sensibly as part of a balanced intake with plain water. And primarily as a post workout recovery method, rather than primary hydration. Sure, they may taste great, but let’s be sensible about it.
Adjusting Your Water Intake
There are various factors that will cause us to dial up or down our water intake. We’ve mentioned a few already but, as we get older, our dietary requirements change. It may sound odd but in our senior years, we can often experience a reduced sense of thirst. Couple that with side-effects from daily medication, fluid loss and lack of an appetite for water can lead to dehydration, confusion, weakness, and dizziness. And for those maintaining an active lifestyle into your later years, that can be catastrophic. So regulating your water intake and keeping a close eye on it becomes vital.
But if you put in the work early and get into the habit of understanding your body’s water needs, you’ll have already taken the first big step to optimal hydration. Just monitor your total fluid intake from various sources, including food. And make sure to consult with your doctor to determine the right balance for your specific needs and health status.
Drink the Water That You Need
Drink whatever you want to drink. Hang on, before you get ahead of yourself, there’s more. Beer, wine, and soda are nice luxuries but drink them in moderation and be sure to balance it out with an appropriate amount of fresh plain water. A great way to achieve this is to keep a water bottle on you and drink from it regularly.
Your body, as complex as it is, can sometimes have straightforward needs and even more straightforward solutions. So, try to remember your body is 60% water, and replenish that reservoir when needed.
Written by Matthew Stogdon
Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.