Water, Water Everywhere-How Much should you Drink?

Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
Most individuals seem to know that drinking water is good for them, but maybe don’t know exactly why and have a hard time reaching their intake goals each day. We know all the excuses:

– I don’t like the taste
– I simply forget
– I can’t drink that much
– Who has time for that many bathroom breaks!

Well, we are going to inform you on why you should always have a water bottle nearby, how much you really need to drink and some tips to help you reach that goal.

Why You Should Be Downing That Water

Water is the most important nutrient for your body. From flushing out toxins, transporting nutrients throughout your body, and other vital actions, water necessary for every single system in your body needs water to function.

On average, water makes up 60% of our body weight. Even slight dehydration can prevent your body from carrying out normal bodily functions, draining your energy or even causing a headache.

5 reasons why you should have a glass of cool, refreshing H20:

1. Drop a few pounds: Remember just a moment ago when we said water is necessary for every function in your body. This includes breaking down fat for weight loss. Also, water is calorie free and is often an appetite suppressant. In fact, most people often confuse hunger for thirst.

2. Drink for your health: Drinking the right amount of water improves the health of your heart, and can even lower your risk of a heart attack. Also, increasing your water intake can improve digestive health by aiding in the breakdown of food. And, most of you probably already know that drinking water is one of the best things you can do for healthy skin – giving it a glow from the inside out.

3. Energy: The first all natural energy drink is water! Test it out next time you’re feeling a little sluggish by having a couple glasses of water.

4. Headache prevention: Know those dull headaches that come in the afternoon, especially after sitting at your desk all day? You’d be surprised how many of those headaches are caused by a slight dehydration.

5. Cleansing: Flush out all those unhealthy toxins!

Now that you’re sold on why to drink more water, let’s talk about how much – and how!
For years we’ve been told to follow the “8 by 8” rule – drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but for some people that just is not enough water. Here’s a new formula to use when calculating how much water you need. Simply divide your weight (in pounds) by two to give you the number of ounces of water you should strive to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs., strive to drink 80 ounces of water daily.

Dietary recommendations: The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

If you drink a lot of caffeine, exercise or your job requires a lot of physical activity, you may need to consume even more water to replenish your body.

Whoa, that’s a lot of water!

Need some help reaching your new water intake goal? Try these tips:

1. Get a reusable bottle and figure out how many times you must empty it through out the day to reach your goal.

2. Have a glass of water before (and with) every meal.

3. Keep a pitcher of water in your office, at your desk or in the fridge – this will also help track how much you’ve already had for the day.

4. Add lemon or lime slices, or mint leaves to give your water a light, refreshing taste. (Hint: the mint may need to soak in the water up to 12 hours to give it any flavor.)

5. Set a daily alarm on your cell phone to remind you of your water intake goal.

6. Go slow. If you rarely drink water and just the thought of your recommended intake makes your bladder a little uneasy, take a few days or even a week to work your way up to that magical number.

Even apart from the above approaches, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.

Factors that influence water needs
You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves, thus increasing your fluid intake needs.

Illnesses or health conditions. Signs of illnesses, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea, cause your body to lose additional fluids. In these cases you should drink more water and may even need oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade or Powerade. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.

Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day

Other Sources of Water
Although it’s a great idea to keep water within reach at all times, you don’t need to rely only on what you drink to satisfy your daily fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake, while the remaining 80 percent comes from water and beverages of all kinds.
For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are 90 percent to 100 percent water by weight. Beverages such as milk and juice also are composed mostly of water. Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages — such as coffee, tea or soda — can contribute, but these should not be a major portion of your daily total fluid intake. Water is one of your best bets because it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.

Staying safely hydratedIt’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you become thirsty, it’s most likely you are already dehydrated. Further, be aware that as you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst. Excessive thirst and increased urination can be signs of a more serious medical condition. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience either.

To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. Nearly every healthy adult can consider the following:
 Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
 Hydrate before, during and after exercise.
 Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings.
If you drink water from a bottle, thoroughly clean or replace that bottle often.

Though uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who consume an average American diet.

If you’re concerned about your fluid intake, check with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s best for you.

Posted by Living Well Today on June 17, 2009
Excerpts from Mayoclinic.com/health/water