Why is water so important?
Let’s take a deeper look into why staying hydrated is so important. We’ve all commonly heard we should be drinking 6 – 8 8oz cups of water per day on average, but why is that? First, let’s understand what water does for our health. Hydration plays a large role in many bodily functions such as maintaining our body temperature, promoting healthy digestion, keeping our joints lubricated, and our organs running smoothly (3). Drinking adequate amounts of water improves and maintains our health. Staying well hydrated has also been linked to reducing and easing headaches (4).
How much water should you drink?
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends daily water intake for men to be 3.7 liters and 2.7 liters for women (2). Healthy individuals often have no issues staying hydrated by paying attention to their thirst cues and drinking water/fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some, less than 8 glasses a day is enough while others may need more than 8 glasses each day (1). These numbers are subject to change and may not be for everyone.
Some factors that may lead to an adjustment of fluid intake are as follows (2).
- Environment: When in warmer and humid climates, additional sweat is produced leading to a greater loss of water from our body, which would require additional water intake.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need additional fluids to keep hydrated.
- Exercise: Physical activity makes you sweat, it is vital to replenish the water that was lost during a workout. It is great to hydrate before, during, and after a workout to ensure steady hydration.
Adequate water intake is ideal to stay hydrated, but other beverages and foods can help as well. Fruits and vegetables have a high water content that contributes to about 20% of your daily fluid intake (2). Watermelon, lettuce, and strawberries are examples of produce with high water contents. Other fluids such as juices, milk, teas, and even coffee add to the amount of water you get each day (2).
When our body lacks water, we may be at risk for dehydration. This means our system does not have enough fluids to maintain itself properly. Some signals and symptoms of dehydration are a dry mouth, dark amber-colored urine, fatigue, lightheadedness, and extreme thirst (1). Dehydration, even in a mild case can lead to a lack of energy. Water makes up 50 – 70% of our body weight, we lose water each day by using the bathroom, physical activity, or sweating so it is important to replenish water to our body to maintain hydration status (2).
- Incorporate other sources of hydration (other than pure water) into your daily intake, like teas or flavored waters.
- Carry water with you throughout the day, you’re more likely to drink if it’s easily accessible.
- Drink water when you first wake up in the morning.
- Set a “water goal schedule”. Example: drink 4 ounces by 10 AM, 6 ounces by 12 PM.
- When you feel hungry, drink water. Often our body confuses thirst with hunger.
- Eat your water! Load up on fruits and vegetables with high water content.
- If you have trouble remembering to drink water, set reminders or download an app that reminds you to stay hydrated and tracks your water intake.
- Familydoctor.org Editorial. “Hydration: Why It’s So Important.” Familydoctor.org, 16 June 2020, familydoctor.org/hydration-why-its-so-important/.
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, October 14). How much water do you need to stay healthy? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256#:~:text=So%20how%20much%20fluid%20does,fluids%20a%20day%20for%20women.
- The importance of hydration. News. (2018, June 22). https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/#:~:text=Drinking%20enough%20water%20each%20day,quality%2C%20cognition%2C%20and%20mood.
- Why water: 5 reasons you should remember to hydrate. (2017, October 19) MultiCare. https://www.multicare.org/happy-back/blog/why-water-5-reasons-hydrate/.
Edited by PreRd intern, Lauren Gatto