How Much Water Should I Drink?

It’s almost officially summer.  The weather is warming up and chances are you’re making plans to have some fun in the sun!  I know I am!  In fact, here in the desert, it started weeks ago!  With warmer weather, and perhaps more sweat, our hydration becomes even more important.   So why is it that ¾ of Americans are chronically dehydrated.  In fact, according to the CDC between 2005-2010 adults only drank about 39 oz a day, just over 1 L.  And children averaged just 15 oz a day.  SO, let’s talk water and how much you should be drinking each day.

Did you know that our bodies are made up of roughly 60 % water? Of that, our muscles and brains are 75% water and our bones are 22% water.  That’s a lot of water pumping through our bodies.  Water also regulates our temperature and lubricates our joints.  It would make sense that in order to function properly we would need to drink adequate amounts.  Signs of dehydration can include:

Headache

Elevated temperature

Fatigue

Low blood pressure

Feelings of dizziness or faintness

Slower cognitive function

More severe signs can include kidney stones, nausea, a rapid heartbeat and migraines.  In a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it was found that even slight dehydration can affect our mood and cognitive function having an impact on concentration, alertness and even causing short term memory loss.  In this same study, it was discovered that as we age, we become less thirsty due to hormonal changes in our bodies.  Less thirst leads to less fluids even though we need it more!  Elderly are found to be chronically dehydrated for this reason and it’s suggested they learn to drink even when they don’t feel thirsty.   The study also found that teens who didn’t drink adequate amounts of water ate less fruits and veggies, got less activity, consumed more sugary beverages like soda, and ate more fast food.  What all this means is that when our fluids are off balance – we are off balance!

The kidneys regulate our water balance, blood pressure and remove waste from our systems.  Dehydration can slow down these processes.  When we don’t drink enough water, it can lead to fluid retention and blood pressure complications.  Even calorie restriction that’s too low can make our bodies hold on to water weight as a survival technique.  For women suffering from PMS, proper fluid balance can help prevent symptoms like bloating and cravings.  Isn’t that reason enough to add more fluids before, during, and after that monthly cycle?

As a side note, there is also a thing as drinking too much water.  It’s rarer and is related to sodium within the body, but symptoms can mirror that of dehydration.  This usually happens in the case of athletes or competitors who are overzealous with hydration.  It’s important not to guzzle too quickly.

Okay, even though there is a lot more to this whole water thing, let’s get to the point.  How much should you be drinking?  What I’m going to share with you is an average.  The truth is, fluid balance depends on the person.  It depends what type of climate you live in, how often your exercise, what you are personally losing through sweat daily, your age, weight, and any other health factors that might be at play.  So, truly, try to listen to what your body is telling you.  Like, are you urinating often enough?  Or if your urine is dark, that can be a sign you need more fluids.  Also, if you feel thirsty, that’s a sign you’ve waited too long to hydrate.  Drink up! 

For the average person, a TOTAL of 3 L of water daily is a good amount.  This assumes you are getting about 1 L of water through your food and about 2 L through your beverages.  However, this can change depending on your body, environment, and activity level as mentioned before.  OR you can say that for roughly every 2.2 lbs. of body weight you need 1.4 oz of water.  This means that for a woman weighing 130 lbs. she needs about 82 oz daily (+/-) – about 2.5 L.  Only use these numbers as a guide and try to tune in to what your body tells you.

For the average person, plain old water is enough.  Sports drinks are good for re-hydration following an intense training session.  But be careful.  While sports drinks can offer re-hydration, they can also contain a lot of sugar.  So, if you aren’t training, it’s best, in my opinion, to stick with water.  Drinking some sports drinks can be just as sugary as soda!

And don’t forget about food!  It’s no coincidence that certain fruits and veggies are in season during the summer!  Nature gives us some great foods that can really offer hydration…. especially if you have kids that you need to stay hydrated while they play in the pool!  Here’s a list:

The “high” foods contain between 80%-99% water. The “medium” foods contain 60%-79% water. The “low” foods contain little to none.

The “high” foods contain between 80%-99% water. The “medium” foods contain 60%-79% water. The “low” foods contain little to none.

We need more water when we are in hot dry weather, eating salty foods, drinking alcohol, when we are sick, sweating, or engaging in intense physical exercise.  We need less when we are in cooler humid climates and not sweating much. 

You can’t go wrong by having a water bottle with you all day.  There are lots to choose from!  Just ask miss Amazon!  I hope this helps offer a clearer picture as to how much you should be drinking.  As for me, I try for 3 L of actual water per day plus whatever is in my food.  I eat lots of those fruits and veggies on the list daily!  3 L seems to be where my body and my kidneys like it best.  My kidneys shout loud when I don’t drink enough, it’s a PKD thing.  I don’t always make it to 3 L but it’s always my goal and I never leave the house without my bottle!

Happy drinking!  Water, that is.