Healthy Habit #3 – Hydrate
While we all know the importance of staying hydrated the answer to the question – how much should you drink every day? – is not as simple.
Water is essential to good health yet needs vary by individual. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years and your individual water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60% of your body weight. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work properly.
- Gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements
- Keeps your body temperature normal
- Lubricates your joints
- Protects sensitive tissues.
A lack of water can lead to dehydration and even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired.
So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate such as Vancouver need? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) of fluids a day for women
Other recommendations suggest you drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day or 2.2 to 4.4L.
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.
There are several factors to consider to determine if you are on the lower end or higher end of that range:
- Exercise. If you do any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It's important to drink water before, during and after a workout. If exercise is intense and lasts more than an hour, a sports drink or electrolytes can replace minerals in your blood lost through sweat.
- Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional fluid intake. Dehydration also can occur at high altitudes.
- Overall health. Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Drink more water or follow a doctor's recommendation to drink oral rehydration solutions. Other conditions that might require increased fluid intake include bladder infections and urinary tract stones.
- Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. The Office on Women's Health recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.4 litres) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 litres) of fluids a day.
You don't need to rely only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion. For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and spinach, are almost 100 percent water by weight.
In addition, beverages such as milk, juice and herbal teas are composed mostly of water.
Your fluid intake is probably adequate if:
- You rarely feel thirsty
- Your urine is colourless or light yellow
To prevent dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, strive to make water your beverage of choice. It's also a good idea to:
- Drink a glass of water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverage with each meal and between each meal.
- Drink water before, during and after exercise.
- Drink water if you're feeling hungry. Thirst is often confused with hunger.