How Much Water Do You Really Need?

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

We’ve all been taught that eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day is the magic number for everyone, but that notion is a myth.

Unique factors like body size, outdoor temperature and how hard you’re breathing and sweating will determine how much you need, she said.  A 200-pound person who just hiked 10 miles in the heat will obviously need to drink more water than a 120-pound office manager who spent the day in a temperature-controlled building.

The amount of water you need in a day will also depend on your health.  Someone with a medical condition like heart failure or kidney stones may require a different amount than someone taking diuretic drugs, for example.  Or you may need to alter your intake if you’ve been ill, with vomiting or diarrhea.

For most young, healthy people, the best way to stay hydrated is simply to drink when you’re thirsty.  (Those who are older, in their 70s and 80s, may need to pay more attention to getting sufficient fluids because the thirst sensation can decrease with age.)

And despite popular belief, don’t rely on urine colour to accurately indicate your hydration status.  Yes, it’s possible that dark yellow or amber urine could mean that you’re dehydrated, but there’s no solid science to suggest that the colour, alone, should prompt a drink.

You might be wondering, “Do I have to drink water to stay hydrated?”

Not necessarily.  From a purely nutritional standpoint, water is a better choice than less healthy options like sugary sodas or fruit juices.  But when it comes to hydration, any beverage can add water to your system.

One popular notion is that drinking beverages with caffeine or alcohol will dehydrate you, but if that’s true, the effect is negligible.  A 2016 randomized controlled trial of 72 men, for instance, concluded that the hydrating effects of water, lager, coffee and tea were nearly identical.

You can also get water from what you eat.  Fluid-rich foods and meals like fruits, vegetables, soups and sauces all contribute to water intake.  Additionally, the chemical process of metabolizing food produces water as a byproduct, which adds to your intake too.

Your next question might be, “How do I know if I’m hydrated enough?”

Your body will tell you.  The notion that staying hydrated requires complex calculations and instantaneous adjusting to avoid dire health consequences is just bunk, the experts said.  And one of the best things you can do is to stop overthinking it.

Instead, the best advice for staying hydrated is also the simplest: Drink when you’re thirsty.  It really is that easy.

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