Ah, good old H2O. It’s a vital life force, accounting for about 60 percent of the human body. In fact, it’s responsible for carrying and digesting nutrients, flushing toxins, and cushioning joints — all pretty important functions.
And it seems like we’re always being tasked with drinking more for all kinds of reasons, from better health to appetite control and everything in between.
But how much water should you drink a day, and what are the benefits of doing so? We bring you the answer.
Here’s how much water to drink daily.
The longstanding rumor is that humans need about 8 cups — or 64 fluid ounces — of water a day.
But actually, as a general rule, Mayo Clinic shares that men should consume about 15.5 cups of fluids per day. For women, that number is 11.5 cups.
In fluid ounces, that breaks down to a daily intake of 124 fluid ounces for men, and 92 fluid ounces for women, which is significantly higher than the previous target of 64 across the board.
But water intake is not a hard science.
Going back to the traditional 64-ounce way of thinking, Mayo Clinic calls this a reasonable water intake goal.
“Most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty," the Mayo Clinic writers. "For some people, fewer than eight glasses a day might be enough. But other people might need more.”
We realize that’s vague, so let’s break it down a bit further.
There are daily water intake calculators that can help you do the math to determine the amount that’s right for you. How? By using a formula that factors in your body weight and activity level.
Many factors influence your water needs.
Aside from your body weight and activity level, it’s important to consider your environment.
Are you somewhere dry and hot, where you’re losing water through sweat? If so, up your intake accordingly.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’ll need to up your water game as well. Work with your medical professional to determine the amount that’s right for you (and baby-to-be, or your new arrival and milk production).
There are countless benefits to upping your water intake.
From head to toe, increasing your daily water intake can be extremely beneficial in improving overall health. Bonus points for being a free way of boosting wellness, too!
Let’s outline some of the specific benefits that are directly linked to being properly hydrated:
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Regulating body temperature
- Helping with digestion
- Promoting regularity
- Cushioning and lubricating joints
- Protecting organs.
And yes, drinking more water can help you lose weight.
If that sounds counterproductive, hear us out.
Studies show that drinking more water can help boost your metabolism and lower your appetite, as Healthline reports. You’re flushing toxins and boosting essential bodily functions.
Drinking water before meals can also help you feel fuller, and consume less calories as a result.
Healthline adds that if you are trying to lose weight, there could be benefits to drinking your water cold, because your body uses more calories when heating cold water to body temperature. Make sure to clear any changes in your diet or lifestyle with a doctor.
Note that it’s also possible to drink too much water.
Certain medical conditions make too much water dangerous.
“It's possible to take in too much water if you have certain health conditions, such as thyroid disease or kidney, liver, or heart problems; or if you're taking medications that make you retain water, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opiate pain medications, and some antidepressants,” the experts at Harvard Medical School share.
Aside from these risk factors, it is generally uncommon to drink too much water.
It’s also important to know the warning signs of dehydration.
While drinking too much water is an issue that only impacts some, dehydration is a lot more common, and something that everyone should look out for.
Dehydration is a condition that occurs when more water is leaving the body than entering it, causing physical symptoms including headaches, dizziness, lethargy, and more, as Medical News Today shares.
It can happen from drinking too little fluids, having diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating.
“Although water is constantly lost throughout the day as we breathe, sweat, urinate, and defecate, we can replenish the water in our body by drinking fluids," Medical News Today writers. "The body can also move water around to areas where it is needed most if dehydration begins to occur.”
The outlet adds that typically, dehydration can be remedied by simply drinking fluids.
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, signs of moderate to severe dehydration include:
- Muscle weakness
- Dry mouth
- Sunken eyes
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart beat.
Consult a medical professional if you are concerned about dehydration.
Now go ahead — grab a glass of water!
Now that you have the facts, you know it’s never the wrong time to start properly hydrating your body on a daily basis. Why not slowly up your intake to reach your target amount?
Be sure to note any differences you feel as your body benefits from this change, and enjoy!
This article, originally published on Sept. 29, 2020, has been updated.