Nowadays everybody has been asking himself how much water should you drink a day to survive. Without water, we might be able to live about 3-5 days. But how much should we be actually be drinking?
So many people ask: how many glasses of water should I drink every day. However, this is virtually impossible to answer, with everyone having a different requirement. This is based upon your health, levels of activity, and your environment.
With 60% of your body weight actually being water, and it being your main chemical component, it is clear your entire body depends on this liquid. Water helps keep toxins out of your important organ. It transports nutrients around, and it keeps your ears, nose and throat tissues moist! When you don’t have enough water, you get dehydrated, and this means your body can’t keep doing what it normally does. Sometimes it may cause you to become tired, and have a lack of energy.
Through our breath, sweat, urine and bowel movements, we are constantly losing water. All of this must be replaced in order for our bodies to continue functioning, and is done so by eating and drinking food and liquids that have water. The Institute of Medicine have worked out that an adequate intake for men is approximately 3 litres (13 regular cups) and for women 2.2 litres (9 cups).
Hang on though. We’ve always been told to drink 8 glasses of water every day, which equates to 1.9 litres. This is less than two-thirds that men need, and just less than what women need. It is thought that although drinking 8 glasses of water every day is not enough; this is an easy way to remember how much you should have. However, don’t forget all liquids and food which contain water count towards this!
There are many factors that affect how much water should you drink a day, and depending on these, you will most likely need to change how much you intake:
Exercise: doing more exercise could cause you to sweat more and so drinking extra water when doing exercise may be necessary. This is dependent on the amount of phisical exercise, but for some short amounts, 2 to 3 cups should be enough.
Intense exercise: Drinking sports drinks that include sodium are best for this, as they will replace sodium which is lost through your sweat, and they help to lower your chances of getting hyponatremia, which can become very dangerous. Taking in water after you’ve finished exercise will be vital especially if you need to use the toilet regularly.
Environment: Sweating will occur more in hot and humid weather, needing more water. Even in the winter when inside a hot room, you will need to drink more as you will lose moisture. Being higher up will cause you to need to urinate and breathe more, using up more fluids, requiring higher water intake – so when skiing, make sure to drink lots!
Illness: You’ll lose more fluids when you have a fever, if you vomit and if you have diarrhoea. Drinking more water here is essential. Sometimes, your doctor may also suggest taking rehydration tablets to help refill your body! Certain illnesses or health conditions may make you lose more water, and so need you to drink more. Alternatively, you may have conditions which restrict water loss from your body, and so drinking too much water in these cases, can be dangerous.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: As you’re effectively feeding a second human, you’re going to need more liquids. Recommended to have 2.3 litres (10 cups) a day, and 3.1 litres (13 cups) a day when breastfeeding.
Taking in water doesn’t just mean you need 3 litres of pure water – food can also give you approximately 20% of the water you need, especially in the form of fruit and vegetables. In fact, over 90% of spinach’s and watermelon’s weight is water – this can give you a big boost in your water intake. Drinks, such as milk, juice, beer and caffeinated drinks can contribute. These should not be the main contribution though, and due to the cheap and calorie free nature of water, that’s your best option!
Making sure you drink enough water can sometimes be difficult, but make sure you drink enough so that you don’t feel thirsty very often, and that your urine is either pale yellow or colourless. To make sure you stay hydrated, have at least one glass of water with each meal and drink before, during and after all exercise. You can drink too much water, which can cause your blood to become too diluted. However, this is usually only a risk in athletes who do a lot of exercises.
If you are worried about how much water should you drink a day, consult your doctor, or a dietitian who can help to determine how much water you should be drinking.