How much water should you actually drink every day?
For such a simple drink, there are a lot of conflicting recommendations about how much water you should drink every day. You’ve probably heard someone suggest 8 glasses, but which size glass? Not to mention most people, especially Gen Z and Millennials, get a large portion of their hydration from water bottles. So, how much should you actually drink?
The amount of water each person needs varies depending on your health, activity level, and location because you consistently lose water through breathing, sweating, urination, and bowel movements. According to the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, healthy people located in temperate climates need about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women.
Why is Water Consumption Important?
At any time, water makes up at least 50% of your body weight; water is the body’s key chemical component and it needs it to survive. The body needs an adequate amount of water in order for cells, tissues, and organs to function properly. Water is necessary for the elimination of waste through urine, sweat, and bowel movements, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, and protects tissues. When the body loses water, it must regain it through your food and drinks. While 20% of your hydration comes from food, the remaining 80% must come from drinks.
Benefits of Drinking Water
Many parts of the body rely on water to support optimal health. When you drink enough water, the body reaps these 7 benefits, plus one big bonus.
- Heart: Staying well-hydrated can help reduce the risk of developing heart failure. When you don’t drink enough water, serum sodium levels increase and the body tries to counteract it by conserving water; this process is known to contribute to heart failure.
- Brain: The brain contains a whopping 73% of water! Researchers found that mild dehydration may interfere with brain activity and the ability to focus.
- Kidneys: In order to remove waste from the blood, possibly preventing kidney stone formation, the body needs water.
- Joints: Did you know 80% of joint cartilage is made of water? It’s imperative to stay hydrated in order to keep joints lubricated and cushioned.
- Skin: The skin is critical for transferring water via sweat and metabolic waste. When you don’t drink enough water, the skin gives up its moisture to more critical body processes and leaves you with dry, wrinkled skin. A very inexpensive anti-aging secret? Water!
- Mood: According to one study, being at 1% to 2% loss of water, which can barely be enough to feel thirsty, caused female participants to put them in a bad mood and increased their susceptibility to headaches and fatigue.
- Body Temperature: The more water you drink, the easier it is for the body to maintain a steady, healthy temperature. If your body temperature is too high over long periods of time, its tissue can become altered.
Bonus: Weight Management
Amanda Carlson, a registered dietitian who works with world-class athletes, claims that in her experience, most people are not aware of how much water they drink and many of them are drinking as little as half of what their body needs. Water is involved with several processes that influence your weight:
- Metabolism: While a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that being hydrated can increase your metabolism by as much as 30%, being just 1% dehydrated significantly decreases your metabolism.
- Hunger Pangs: The body can have a difficult time telling the difference between being hungry and thirsty. If you feel hungry, you might actually just need a big glass of water. In fact, researchers have found that drinking one glass of water before you start your meal can help you feel fuller and eat less.
- Digestion: The kidneys need water to filter out what needs to be eliminated and support normal bowel movements. If you’re not drinking enough water, you may experience more constipation.
Signs of Dehydration
While chronic dehydration can prevent your body from carrying out normal functions, even mild dehydration can zap your energy and make you feel lethargic. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may not be drinking enough water:
- Dry skin that doesn’t improve with lotion daily
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
Easy Ways to Drink More Water
We get it, drinking water can be boring. If water isn’t the first beverage you reach for, we have some suggestions to make it easier to get your H2O.
- Keep a water bottle with you wherever you go. Gen Z chooses vibrant water bottles and decorates them with stickers to make drinking water more fun. Choose a color or design you enjoy to make you more excited to drink your water.
- Put a glass of water next to your bed so that it’s waiting for you when you wake up.
- Add fresh fruit like citrus, watermelon, or cucumber to make plain water taste better.
- Try carbonated flavored water.
- Transform water into tea or soup to increase hydration while enjoying savory flavors.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Water: How much should you drink every day?” Mayo Clinic. 2020.
- Perry, Cristin. “Here’s How Much Water You Should Drink A Day, According To Experts.” Forbes Health. 2022. https://www.forbes.com/health/body/how-much-water-you-should-drink-per-day/
- Shaw, Gina. “Water and Your Diet: Staying Slim and Regular With H2O.” WebMD. 2022. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/water-for-weight-loss-diet
- Ensle, Karen. “Signs You are not Drinking Sufficient Water.” Rutgers. 2019. https://njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/message/message.php?p=Health&m=395#:~:text=Warning%20signs%20that%20our%20water,focus%20and%20can%20cause%20 irritability.
- Laskey, Jen. “7 Ways to Make Water Taste Better.” Everyday Health. 2088.