It’s not uncommon to stop and wonder, “How much water should I drink?” The question might cross your mind when you see someone walking around in the gym carrying a gallon size bottle of water.
There are many different opinions on just how much water you should be drinking every day. One thing we do know is, water is essential to good health. Are you getting enough? Let’s see if we can help you find out.
Before we get into how much water you should be drinking, let’s talk about why human beings need water in the first place. Yes, it’s obvious that consuming water keeps us alive, but what does it do specifically? Well, according to the Mayo Clinic, our body weight is made up of somewhere between 50 and 70 percent water. The benefits of water are great—pretty much every organ and cell in your body needs water to function. For example, water gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements; keeps your temperature normal; lubricates and cushions joints; protects sensitive tissues.
No single formula fits everyone. But knowing more about your body's need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day. Water is your body's principal chemical component.
To understand the secret behind the impact of dehydration, especially on your joints, you also must know more about the spinal column. Our spinal column consists of 24 vertebrae bones and 23 cartilages discs, ligaments.
In well-hydrated cartilages, the rate of friction between bones is lower than in dehydrated cartilage. As a result, dehydration can lead to increased degeneration and damage. Hydrated cartilages function better, and a well-lubricated spine can move more easily. Fewer friction results in the smoother spine. When there is enough water in cartilage, the risk of pain is lower.
On the other hand, in dehydrated cartilage, the discs (shock absorbers that keep the bones from rubbing together) are unable to perform their functions unless they are fully hydrated. The cushioning ability of your disc is based on the water content. Since there is not enough water, this may lead to degeneration and severe pain in joints.
Due to joint pain and dehydration, the blood volume decreases as well. This causes a chain of reactions making everything work harder; your heart is compensating for weak blood volume by pumping harder and faster to get oxygen and blood to the organs of your body. At the same time, your muscles work harder while your joints may not get proper friction and smoothness thus leading to the degeneration and ultimately severe pain.
Once the body has been chronically dehydrated for many years or even decades many people start developing the diseases and health conditions such as arthritis. Drinking enough water can be a useful way to manage joint pain. Staying hydrated helps you maintain sufficient blood volume and allow the nutrients to move through the blood to your joints.
So, in attempt to answer the initial question, “How much water do we need to drink daily?” Health experts commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon a day. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember. However, some experts believe that you need to sip on water constantly throughout the day, even when you’re not thirsty. As with most things, this depends on the individual. Many factors (both internal and external) ultimately affect how much water you need.
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
· About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
· About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages, and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks. Most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than eight glasses a day might be enough. But other people might need more. You might need to modify your total fluid intake based on several factors:
· 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.
· Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional fluid. 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 and breast-feeding. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you may need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
Thanks to Betty Durochik Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Program Specialist for writing this blog.
Resources: Mayo Clinic HealthLine, Joint Health Magazine, Wikipedia