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We all know that water is an important part of our daily diet. But how much is enough? It sounds like a simple question, but there are many answers floating around. So, what is the actual truth? How many glasses of water should you drink a day and why is water intake so important? Keep reading to learn more.
Calculating Your Water Intake
Not so long ago, the 8×8 rule, which referred to eight glasses of eight ounces each, was the go-to advice for establishing how many glasses of water should you drink a day. Another common rule-of-thumb is to calculate your daily water intake by multiplying your weight in pounds by 2/3 and drinking that number of ounces of water. Eight glasses of water may be close, but not quite enough, water each day. However, there is no need to resort to complicated equations.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says that the amount of water you need each day depends on a variety of factors. In general, healthy women need 91 ounces, or just over 11 cups, of fluids each day. Men need 125 ounces, or almost 16 cups, of fluids each day. While all fluids can count towards that amount, water should make up the majority.
However, people that are very physically active or who live in warm climates may require even more water.
Benefits of Drinking Enough Water
It’s important to know the answer to the question “how many glasses of water should you drink a day: because drinking enough water each day is one of the best things you can do for your body. Each part, system and function of your body needs water to perform well. Drinking enough water helps your body to:
- Regulate your temperature
- Flush out waste
- Lubricate your joints
- Improve your memory
- Maintain your energy levels
- Maintain digestive functions
- Maintain healthy weight
- Keep your skin healthy and hydrated
What is Dehydration?
Despite the many benefits and important reasons to drink water, 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. Dehydration is a fluid deficiency, which can occur from not taking in enough water for just a day of two. When you don’t drink enough water in the short term, you may experience:
- Urine that is brown or dark yellow
- Feeling lightheaded
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry mouth or lips
- Muscle fatigue
Chronic dehydration goes beyond fluid deficiency and isn’t caused by missing one day’s water intake goal. Instead, chronic dehydration is an ongoing concern in which the body is forced to function with a lack of water. Once you enter chronic dehydration, it becomes harder to catch back up and it can take days or weeks to restore your body to a state of good hydration. Chronic hydration has the same symptoms as dehydration, plus:
- Digestive issues and constipation
- Frequent headaches
- Impaired cognitive function and mood
- Ongoing fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Dry, flaky or itchy skin
What Is Stopping You From Drinking Enough Water
With such serious symptoms, it is surprising that so many people are chronically dehydrated. So, what prevents people from drinking enough water? There are a few big reasons.
First, you may not like the taste of your water. High levels of chlorine can cause your tap water to taste like a mouthful of swimming pool water. If you get a whiff of rotten eggs every time you take a sip, there may be high levels of sulfur in your water. Or, your pipes could be adding a plastic flavor to your water.
Another reason you may not drink enough water is a lack of thirst. In fact, 42% of Americans report that they do not drink water during their workday because they don’t feel thirsty. We often think of thirst as a signal that it is time to fill our cup. But, thirst is actually a delayed reaction, since you probably won’t feel thirsty until you are already dehydrated. This is especially true for senior citizens, since the sense of thirst decreases as part of the natural aging process.
There are a few other reasons you may not be drinking enough water each day, including you:
- prefer flavored beverages
- want caffeine or sugary drinks to help you feel awake
- don’t want to buy bottled water
- don’t trust the safety of your tap water
- forget to drink water
- don’t want to urinate as often
Tips for Drinking More Water
Since you can’t rely on your sense of thirst to provide a timely reminder to drink water, you may need to find other ways to ensure you drink enough water every day.
Create a Water Routine
Every day, you brush your teeth and hang your keys in their designated spot without any thought, because you have an engrained routine. Establishing a routine of drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, during a mid-morning break, at lunch, as soon as you get home from work and during dinner can take the thought process out of drinking water.
Add Flavor to Your Water
Even pure, clean water can get a bit boring. Perk up your water by adding fresh flavors. Mint, citrus fruits, fresh berries and herbs all provide extra interest to filtered water. Mix up your favorite combinations in a pitcher and refill your glass throughout the day. Or, keep things interesting by adding fruit directly to your glass and switching up your flavors a few times a day.
Buy a Fun Water Bottle
A water bottle is an excellent way to keep water on hand, no matter where you are. Plus, you will never need to worry about creating plastic waste or spending money on single-use, disposable bottles of water. The trick here is to find a water bottle that motivates you to take a sip. Find a bottle in a color you love, a fun pattern, personalized with your name or splashed with motivational phrases, and be sure it is comfortable to hold.
Have Your Water Tested and Install a Water Filter
Hands down, the best thing you can do to encourage yourself to drink enough water is to ensure that your tap water is safe and pleasant tasting. A free water test will identify any contaminants or impurities in your tap water. Then, a water filter system can remove contaminants and chemicals to provide fresh-tasting water.
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