8 glasses a day? Myth busted. Everyone everywhere is obsessing over drinking 8 glasses of water a day but relax guys, this rule can be tossed out. The amount of glasses we actually need a day varies greatly between individuals and is even influenced by foods we eat, other drinks, activity level and climate.
Health benefits of water
Water is absolutely essential to our health, wellbeing and life; it makes up about 60% of our body weight and is needed for every system in our bodies. Water is needed to flush out toxins from our bodies, to carry important nutrients to our organs, tissues and cells and to keep our mouth, nose and throat moist. Without water our bodies start to become dehydrated and our bodily systems will stop functioning normally. If dehydration is not corrected it can cause serious damage to our organs and can even lead to death.
But, how much?
So being that everyone’s needs are different how can we know how much water to drink on a daily basis? Unfortunately science has not yet totally nailed this one but if we listen to our bodies we will get enough or very close to the amount of water needed daily.
- Listen- first rule is pretty basic, listen to your body. Our bodies are pretty good at keeping us alive and they will throughout hints and clues all day to keep you going. Are you thirsty? Then drink, this is your body saying fill her up! Are you hungry? Then eat. Our bodies need food to sustain us, food not only gives us vital nutrients and energy it also gives us water! In fact one fifth of our daily fluid intake actually comes from food.
- Look- another basic rule is looking at what’s going on with our bodies. How about our bathroom habits? Seems a bit gross but monitoring our urine output can be helpful to know if we are becoming dehydrated. No need to measure your pee just have a quick look, the aim is a pale yellow colour, darker yellow means you need more water, clear means too much water. Also watch how many times you are going to the toilet, if it’s more or less than usual you may need to adjust your drinking habits.
- Other factors of water consumption are age, sex, climate, activity level and health. Obviously if you are smaller than someone you will need less water, if you are exercising you will need more, same goes for if it’s hot. If you are sick with a fever and vomiting or have diarrhea then you will also need more water.
By simply watching and listening to your body you will probably get your water intake right every time.
Does it have to be water?
Guess what? Your total water consumption can come from the different fluids your drink; it doesn’t just have to be water. Milk, juice and even coffee will all add to your daily fluid needs although keep in mind the amount of calories you are consuming. Water is always your best bet but if you’re not a fan then try adding fruit to your water or drink it sparkling.
As I mentioned the foods we eat also contain water in varying amounts. Fresh fruit and vegies especially watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce and oranges all contain a lot of water. And don’t forget soups and ice blocks.
On the flip side
Although water can be sourced from our food and drinks there are some things that can actually make us more dehydrated? Alcohol is an obvious one; it can dehydrate our bodies extremely fast so keep that in mind when you have your next drink. Drinking a glass of water between alcoholic beverages will help to keep you hydrated and hopefully starve off any nasty hangovers. High sodium foods can also cause us to retain more fluid and make us thirstier, so by drinking more water we can get the fluid moving and get our bodies at optimal levels.
Turns out the age old 8 glasses of water isn’t exactly right. There are many ways in which our bodies accepts water and many reasons for us to alter our consumption. Remember that if we feel thirsty we may already be dehydrated, so keep a look out for what your body is telling you. The easiest way to stay hydrated is to keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times and remember to drink more if you get hot and sweaty.