We all know that water is one of those “essential” things. In life.
But most of us (my husband and kids included), do not drink enough.
I mean, you can survive without food for weeks, but you can only survive a few days without water.
Why? It’s likely because sixty percent of you is water. Remember that tidbit from biology in middle school? Turns out that it’s really, really important.
And you may not be drinking enough (I get it-I didn’t use to like the flavor of “plain” water either). So how much water is too much? Or is that even a thing? Let me share with you all.
So Truly, How Much Water Is Too Much
Health Benefits of Water
I started looking into what being properly hydrated actually does…and it turns out, water does a lot:
- Water is a huge part of what makes up your blood and helps to cushion your joints.
- Also, water aids in proper (and healthy) digestion.
- Water helps stabilize your blood pressure and regulates your heartbeat.
- Water helps you to regulate your body temperature and maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. And that’s just a few of its roles.
That’s a lot of benefits for such a “normal” thing!
When You Don’t Get Enough Water
When you don’t drink enough water, you become dehydrated.
- impair mood and concentration,
- contribute to headaches and dizziness,
- reduce your physical endurance, and
- increase the risk for kidney stones and constipation.
Extreme dehydration can even cause heat stroke (seriously!).
Being dehydrated is not good, and can actually be life-threatening, but drinking too much water isn’t’ good either.
Like most health advice, everything (including water) needs moderation.
Which is super frustrating when there are conflicting opinions as to how much water you actually need to drink.
How much water do you actually need?
Once upon a time, there was a magic “rule” that stated that you needed to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. That’s a gallon of water each day (a gallon of water is 64 ounces).
That theory has since been disproved, as the experts have realized that an arbitrary “one-size-fits-all” rule doesn’t work.
Nowadays, many health professionals recommend drinking according to thirst.
This means that you don’t need to go overboard forcing down glasses of water if you’re not thirsty. This can work, if you know what being thirsty feels like for you.
Drinking to Thirst
For me, it usually presents as hunger soon after I’ve eaten. For my husband, he actually feels his lips getting dry. It just depends on you. What do you feel like when you’re thirsty?
Interestingly, we have super complex hormonal and neurological processes that are constantly monitoring how hydrated we are.
And for most healthy adults, this system is very reliable.
Signs You Need to Drink More Water
In addition to drinking to thirst, you should monitor some other symptoms that you’re body uses to identify how hydrated you are.
One very easy way to tell if you’re drinking enough is how concentrated your pee is.
Stay with me here. The darker your pee, the more dehydrated you are.
Remember that your pee’s job is to rid your body of waste, so if it’s dark, that means the ratio of water to waste is off. You’re seeing more waste come out and less water. This is really hard on your kidneys. Aiming for a light yellow, but the not clear color is a good mark.
Additionally, If you’re sweating a lot, or live in a hot and humid climate, you’ll likely need to drink more. I drink far more water during the summer months than I do during winter because I’m outside more, I’m sweating more, and I’m generally more active.
Breastfeeding moms, the elderly, and people at risk of kidney stones may need to drink more water than the average person. So do people who experience vomiting and/or diarrhea, as both can quickly dehydrate our bodies.
What Counts as Water?
If you’re not drinking pure water, consider the effects that the other ingredients have on your body.
Pay Attention to What You’re Drinking
Theoretically, anything you drink has some water content, so everything you drink should count as water….
Drinks containing sugar, alcohol, and caffeine will have effects beyond hydration:
- Sugar can mess with your blood sugar balance.
- Alcohol can make you feel“buzzed.”
- Caffeine can keep you awake.
Water and Water
Caffeine is the infamous“dehydrator,”right? You drink a cup of coffee and you have to pee. And there’s a reason for that – caffeine does have a diuretic effect, but it’s probably not as drastic as you think.
Sure, if you drink a huge, 16-ounce coffee, you’re going to have to pee. That’s normal. But it doesn’t mean you’re dehydrated.
The oudated idea that coffee and tea
don’t count toward your water intake is a myth.
Another way to ensure that you’re getting enough water is to add fruits and vegetables with high water content to your diet.
Some of my favorites (these each contain over eighty percent water!) are:
- carrots, and
Basically, eat well
and drink some water, and you should be good.
Remember that water is your best source of hydration. But other liquids and even foods can help keep you hydrated.
What’s your favorite way to hydrate?