How often do you hear the advice to drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water throughout your day? The 8×8 rule is pretty easy to remember and seems like a pretty reasonable goal. Most healthy people have an easy time staying hydrated by drinking water and other liquids whenever they are thirsty. But every one of us is different. Water intake required varies based on how active you are and a host of other factors. 8 glasses of water a day might just not be enough. So just how much water does a person actually need?
Before we dive into busting the hydration myth, let’s briefly touch on water. About 60% of the average adult body is made up of water. This includes most of your brain, heart, lungs, muscles, tissues, and skin. Water even can make up 30% of our bones! Besides making us up, water helps to regulate our internal temperature, transport nutrients, flushes waste, and even serves as a protective shock absorber for vital organs. Water is a basic necessity as it helps a person maintain a healthy body and clear mind.
Every day the body loses water through breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. The level of activity and climate also can affect the rate at which a person loses hydration. It is crucial to replenish that lost water in order for the body to function properly. Click here to read more about how long a person can survive without water.
It’s safe to say that the 8×8 rule shouldn’t be the golden rule when it comes to hydration. Something we tend to forget is that drinking water isn’t the only way to increase your hydration levels. We also tend to forget about outside factors that can decrease said levels. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula for proper hydration. Each one of us has different needs based on age, weight, physical activity level, general health, and climate in which they live.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has determined that adequate daily fluid intake is as follows: roughly 15.5 cups of fluid for men and roughly 11.5 cups of fluid for women. This determination is for those who live in a temperate climate – so for those living in warmer or colder areas, that number will differentiate accordingly. These recommendations also include fluids from food, as roughly 20% of our fluid intake usually comes from food.
Check out the chart in this article for more information on daily water intake recommendations from the European Food Safety Authority, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and the US National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine.
Factors That Influence Your Water Intake Needs
While the 8×8 rule is a good place to start, you may need to modify your water intake based on several factors.
Whether you hit the gym hard lifting weights, sweat it out in a hot yoga class, or go hiking every weekend, doing any kind of activity that makes you sweat means you need to drink extra water to cover that liquid loss. It is crucial to drink water before, during, and after a workout or physical activity. If your workout is intense or lasts longer than an hour, sports drinks and supplements can help replace those electrolytes lost via sweat.
Just as physical activity gets us sweating, so does hot and humid weather. So those living in hotter areas definitely require more water than those living in opposite climates. Interestingly enough, dehydration is also common at high altitudes, so those of you into hiking and rock climbing, make sure to pack extra water!
This mainly applies when you are sick, specifically with fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. These illness symptoms cause you lose the most liquids, so replenishing them is crucial. Bladder/urinary infections are other conditions in which water intake may need to be increased. Make sure to continually drink water and talk to your doctor about the best ways to rehydrate.
Staying Hydrated and Tips to Reach Your Hydration Goals
Now that we’ve taken the deep dive into hydration and how much we need, let’s now look into how to tell if we have enough water in us. Your water intake is most likely adequate if:
- You have low thirst levels
- Your urine is either pale yellow or colorless
- You continually produce sweat during physical exertion
- Your skin rebounds immediately after being pinched
- Your skin returns to its normal color less than two seconds after pressure is applied to it
If you did not meet a number of these bullet points, it may be best to talk to your doctor to determine the amount of water you should be ingesting every day. The last thing we want is to be dehydrated. So here are a few tips to help you meet your daily water intake goals!
- Keep a glass of water next to your bed both in the morning and before you go to bed. Try to create a habit of drinking water first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed. By drinking just 8 ounces at both morning and night, that will add an extra 16 ounces of water to your daily intake.
- Invest in a good water bottle and take it with you everywhere. One proven way to help people drink more water is by buying a specific bottle for water, such as this one. Set a goal of how many times you wish to finish the container throughout your day.
- Infuse your water. If regular water is too boring for you, infuse it with fruit, cucumber or fresh herbs. Try it with an entire pitcher so you can have infused water all day, or try an infuser water bottle, like this one, if you’re constantly on the go.
- Remember water isn’t the only way to increase your water intake. Yes, this sounds contradictory, but remember that your food can also help you meet your daily hydration needs. Many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and spinach, are almost 100% water by weight. Try adding fresh fruit to your breakfast or dessert or adding salads to your lunch or dinner to meet those hydration goals.
How Does This Tie into Your Chiropractic Care?
Roughly 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, meaning you or someone you know isn’t drinking enough water for their body to function properly. In regards to your wellness routine and chiropractic care, drinking below your normal water level could cause you to lose both strength and flexibility. This weakening of your body’s tissues and ligaments directly affects how long your vertebra will stay in place after an adjustment. Meaning you’ll need to see your chiropractor more often than someone who is hydrated.
I do want to give a disclaimer and note that you can drink too much water – as an excess of water hinders the capability of your kidney function– which is lethal, so please be careful and don’t go overboard. Contact us today to schedule an introductory chiropractic session. We can discuss your wellness routine and hydration needs as part of my initial chiropractic workup for you as a new patient to our practice.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.