When it comes to how much water you should drink there seems to be an overwhelming number of answers: Why isn’t this a simple question, and why are there so many answers? The Urgency Room is here to help you find your ideal water intake level in just a few easy steps.
What Are the Health Benefits of Drinking Water?
The above might seem like a silly question, but water does a lot more for your body than you probably know. Up to 60% of your body weight comes from water, and every system in your body depends on water to function properly. For example, water helps your body maintain its balance of bodily fluids, and it assists with such functions as digestion, circulation, absorption, saliva production, transportation of nutrients and maintaining your body temperature. But how else does water benefit your overall health?
That’s right! While most of us tend to reach for a cup of coffee or a caffeinated beverage to overcome the three o’clock slump, you might want to consider water instead. If you are feeling tired and worn down at an unusual time, there is a good chance that your body is telling you that you’re becoming dehydrated. When you don’t maintain your water levels, it leads to a drop in blood volume, which makes your heart have to work harder to deliver oxygenated blood throughout your bloodstream and to your organs, thus leading to your fatigue.
Improved Mood and Thought Process
In a study published by The Journal of Nutrition, researches were able to determine that a lack of water can negatively affect your mood and cognitive function. Additionally, in a study published by Appetite, which is “an international research journal specializing in cultural, social, psychological, sensory and physiological influences on the selection and intake of foods and drinks,” it was found that water can increase cognitive performance, happiness, visual attention and visual search.
Skin is an organ that is made up of cells just like any other part of your body. Skin cells are primarily made up of water, so when you aren’t reaching your daily water intake level, your skin will be negatively affected. That is not to say that drinking water to excess will give you perfect wrinkle-free skin. It does mean that having the correct amount of water daily will keep your skin looking fresh and well hydrated. Want to take another step to ensure your skin’s health? By using a hydrating moisturizer, you’ll create a barrier that will help lock moisture into the skin, giving you a healthy, hydrated glow.
Water is the original zero calorie, zero carb, preservative-free, weight-loss solution. While water on its own doesn’t have any magical weight-loss properties, studies have shown that drinking your recommended amount of water daily plus substituting water for higher calorie beverages can result in weight loss. Water also has the bonus of being a metabolism booster, meaning that every time you drink water, your metabolism is “turned on” and is forced to process the water that you just drank. Frequently the body’s cues for water can be misinterpreted as hunger cues. So, next time you get the craving for a mid-day snack, try reaching for a glass of water instead.
Headaches stem from either a chemical, emotional or structural problem. The most common cause of headaches is dehydration. As previously mentioned, dehydration reduces your blood volume, which in turn limits the amount of oxygenated blood that gets delivered to your brain, thus your headache. The best way to cure a dehydration headache is to replenish your water levels. If you have a dehydration headache from exercising, the best cure is to stop all activity and consume fluids until your natural water levels have been replenished. If you are suffering from a dehydration headache due to illness such as vomiting or diarrhea, the best course of action is to replenish your fluid loss with electrolyte-rich liquids. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium and magnesium.
Why Are There so Many Different Answers to “How Much Water Should I Drink?”
As we’re sure you found while searching for this article, there are thousands of answers to the question, “How much water should I drink?” The simple answer? Everyone is different! Sadly, there is no magic number for how much water you should drink, but here are the factors you should be considering when estimating what your personal water intake level should be.
How much exercise do you get daily? If you do any activity that makes you sweat, that fluid loss needs to be replaced. Mayo Clinic says that an extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water should make up the difference for short bouts of exercise. Long bouts of exercise such as running or organized sports require much higher levels of water intake. We recommend you drink 4–6 ounces of water every 15–20 minutes while participating in any long duration of strenuous activity.
Don’t forget about swimming! Most people tend to forget to hydrate while swimming for the simple fact that they are submerged in water, but this is not enough. It can take as little as 30 minutes of swimming to become dehydrated. We recommend the same procedure for swimming as any other strenuous activity; try to drink about one cup of water every 20 minutes.
As we all know, those hot Minnesota summer days sure can make you sweat. During the warmer months of the year, you will need to increase your water intake level to account for all the fluids you are losing while sweating. But also, don’t forget to hydrate during the long cold winters. You naturally lose fluids throughout the day by breathing, urinating, from skin evaporation and more. So even though the temperatures aren’t high, you need to make sure that you are sufficiently hydrating throughout the day.
Maybe you have a day where you don’t do any strenuous activity and it’s a pleasant 60 degrees outside—then what? Well, for a typical day we recommend you do the following: Drink an average of 8 cups of water per day. This age-old adage holds true. Drinking around 8 cups of water a day should be adequate for most people.
Other factors such as existing health concerns or weight can impact this number. An important factor to keep in mind is that you will get some of your daily fluid needs through the food you eat. Food provides around 20% of your daily water intake. The best foods for hydration are fruits and vegetables. All in all, listen to what your body is telling you. If you’re thirsty; drink. If you have a headache, are over-tired or are having problems concentrating, that is your body’s way of telling you to drink more water.
We hope that we have helped you determine your ideal water intake level. If you have any questions, we are always happy to help. The Urgency Room is open 365 days a year from 8am-10pm so that you can come in anytime and receive the help you need quickly. When speed counts, you can count on us. The Urgency Room proudly serves Vadnais Heights, Woodbury, Eagan and the surrounding areas.