How Much Water Do You Really Need?

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How Much Water Do You Really Need?

Jun 26, 2015 //

Among common wives’ tales is this one: Drink eight glasses of water a day.

Wait – a wives’ tale??

That’s right.

The conventional wisdom to drink eight glasses of water each day is something most people have been following all their lives. But do you really need that amount of water? After all, research does show that nearly half of Americans are not drinking enough. So how much is enough?

What if you hate to drink water – are there other ways to get hydrated?

First, The Facts

  • Your body is composed of about 60 percent water, so it goes without saying you need water to keep your body functioning well.
  • Water helps keep your body moving and churning. It cushions your joints, regulates your body temperature, moistens tissues (like those around your mouth, eyes and nose), aids digestion, helps your body get nutrients, flushes out wastes and helps to create saliva.
  • Water is evaporating from your body continuously; through your skin, from breathing, through urine and stool – and those losses must be replaced on a daily basis to maintain optimum health.
  • Drinking water may promote weight loss by speeding up your metabolism, says a study published in the journal Obesity.
  • If you skimp on fluids, your mood could suffer, says another study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Plus, mild dehydration can cause anxiety and mess with your concentration and your memory, too.
  • Water can help control calories by substituting it for higher calorie beverages. Drinking a glass of water prior to a meal can help fill you up and prevent you from overeating.

Lest you think you have to lug around a water bottle all day long, you don’t. There is no scientific evidence for the eight-glass-a-day rule; rather, it’s simply a guideline. Experts do generally agree on one thing: most people should drink six to eight glasses of fluid every day.

Keep These Things In Mind When Planning Your Daily Water Intake

  • If you exercise, you need to drink enough fluids (if you’re sweating, you’re losing water). The American College of Sports Medicine recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours prior to exercise. And during exercise, they recommend you start drinking fluids early on and at regular intervals to help replace fluids lost by sweating.
  • You’ll need more fluid if the weather is hot.
  • If you’re getting enough fluids, your urine will flow freely and be light in color and free of odor. On the other hand, if you’re going from early in the morning until late in the day without a bathroom visit, all bets are off that you’re adequately hydrated.

Little-Known Water Facts

If you don’t like water, there’s still hope for you to stay adequately hydrated.

  • Fruits and vegetables count toward your total fluid consumption. Why? They have high water content. Fruits with high numbers include watermelon and strawberries grapefruit, cantaloupe and peaches 88 percent. Top water count for veggies include cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, radish and celery.
  • A 2009 study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen Medical School claims that eating watermelon or cucumber (or other water-rich fruits and veggies) following an intense workout may hydrate you twice as effectively as a glass of water, due to their natural sugars, amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins that are lost during exercise.
  • Other sources of water in your diet include foods like oatmeal, yogurt, soup and smoothies.. Even foods like cheddar cheese, cooked broccoli and roasted and skinless chicken breasts contain water!
  • Coffee and tea also count. They used to be thought of as dehydrating (because of their mild diuretic effect), but that myth has been debunked.
  • Sports drinks and juices can help replace lost liquids, but beware of the ones with a high sugar content, which can deliver unneeded calories along with hydration.
  • Alcohol can dehydrate you. While you should try to limit your intake, if you’re going to hoist a few, keep the ratio of water to alcohol at one-to-one.

Get creative with your water: add lemons, limes, oranges or your favorite fruit; drink sparkling water garnished with mint and raspberries. Float some cucumbers, strawberries or watermelon in a pitcher of water. When making ice cubes, add some mint, cucumber or fresh fruit to the tray, and pop the colorful cubes into your glass.

Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft is a freelance health journalist, whose print and online work has appeared in numerous outlets, including AARP, Prevention, Family Circle, MORE,, YahooHealth, WebMD, Senior Planet and more. She writes about health, fitness, nutrition and how to live your healthiest life.

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