How Much Water Should You Really Be Drinking?

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Author Katie Kohnle is the VP of Operations at Aliat.

It is widely known that most of us do not drink as much water as we should be on a daily basis. If you don’t actively think about it, it can be very challenging to reach the recommended amount in a day. On this path to wellness that we are taking, I encourage you all to pay more attention to the amount of fluids that you drink in a day. Water plays a huge role in all body functions and dehydration can cause a cascade of problems with basic bodily functions.

Recommended Daily Fluid Intake

The Institute of Medicine’s guidelines for daily total fluid intake is 91 ounces (about 2.7 liters) for women and 125 ounces (about 3.7 liters) for men. While some of this fluid will come from the food you eat and other drinks you consume throughout the day, the majority of it should be from water. A good tip to ensure you are meeting your requirements is to keep a liter sized water bottle with you at all times and track how many times you have filled and emptied it throughout the day.

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Negative Side Effects of Dehydration

A lot of negative side effects arise when you become dehydrated. Water is the main buffer in the body and allows for almost all of our chemical reactions to take place at a cellular level. It also is a main contributor to our body’s temperature regulatory systems and a key factor to keeping our blood and body fluids in a safe pH and ion concentration range. If our pH drops out of normal range, even slightly, it can have a catastrophic impact on bodily functions. Our muscle cells alone are composed of 75% water. In a dehydrated state, cells cannot function properly and major complications can arise.

The Water Balance

On any given day you lose roughly 2,500mL (about 2.5 Liters) of water just to normal bodily functions. The diagram below illustrates where this water is lost to. At a minimum, it is important to replenish what is lost each day to ensure that our body can perform at its optimal level. This can be accomplished by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day as well as eating food rich in water content, such as fruits and vegetables.

The Water Balance

Know When To Hydrate Your Body

There is no hard wired way to determine the correct amount of water an individual should be drinking a day to maintain a happy body as so many factors come into play. However, a good rule of thumb is to go by the color of your urine. When at proper water balance your urine will be a very faint yellow or even clear in color with minimal to no odor.

It is also recommended to drink whenever you feel thirsty, even slightly, and to also drink when you feel hungry as those hunger pains could really be your body telling you it is thirsty. Moderate your intake of antidiuretics such as caffeine and alcohol as they have an opposite effect, or be sure to drink some extra water throughout the day if you have had a few cups of coffee.

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Be Cautious of Drinking Too Much Water

Be careful not to drink way over the daily recommended amount without first consulting your doctor, especially if you have impaired kidney function. Our kidneys can only process about 800 to 1,000 mL per hour. Too much water can lead to water intoxication, causing cells to burst and resulting in quick death. If you’re drinking a lot of water throughout the day, be sure to have some food in your stomach. Drinking pure water with no electrolytes can also cause water intoxication. Consult your doctor to find the right amount of daily water intake for your body.

I hope this helps on your journey to wellness!

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