How Much Water Should I Drink Everyday?
I get this question multiple times per week when seeing patients in my medical office. The answer is a little different for each person, but most of us should likely drink more water than we currently do.
The rule of six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day is really only an estimate but likely close to correct. The real answer is that you should drink enough water so that your urine looks clear. If your urine is dark, that’s usually an indication that it’s concentrated and that you’re not consuming enough water or other hydrating liquids.
We get water from drinking as well as from the foods we eat. If you eat multiple servings of salad, veggies, and fruits each day, you likely can drink less water. These healthy food items have a high percentage of water in their natural makeup. If you eat large amounts of meats and starches, on the other hand, then the six to eight glass rule is probably close to the correct amount for you.
It’s important to note that caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are not included in this water total, and they actually cause dehydration.
Caffeine and alcohol both act as natural diuretics and send neurologic signals to your brain and bladder to increase urination. Additionally, if you exercise, you will need to consume even more water to make up for the loss from perspiration.
My list of top benefits of drinking water throughout the day:
- Water acts as a natural appetite suppressant, filling your stomach before and after meals. It also can boost your metabolism. The last time I checked the label, a bottle of water had 0 calories!
- Water aids in filtering toxins and washing them away, along with other byproducts of metabolism and waste. It maintains natural homeostasis with essential electrolytes and nutrients then delivers them to our cells.
- Our cells, organs, and brain are made up of 66 percent water, and we need it to survive. Water acts as an energy source to all of our body’s essential functions.
- Water can improve muscle and joint function. When you are dehydrated, your muscles and joints can cramp and ache. I have reviewed several medical articles and studies that point to decreased joint and back pain among people who stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Water can help to prevent several other painful medical conditions such as gouty arthritis and the formation of kidney stones.
- Water is a natural skin moisturizer. Water balance can help to maintain a healthy complexion and help prevent dry skin.
Water can give you more energy and make you feel better. Many of us walk around a bit dehydrated. We rush to work or school, run errands, drink a cup of coffee, and continue like this for several hours. Soon we begin to feel fatigued, and this may be due in part to dehydration. The next time this happens to you, remember to stop and drink a large glass of water. Even better, start the day hydrated, and you may just perk up and feel energized.
Drinking plenty of water is healthy for so many reasons, but it is also important to understand that you can actually drink too much water, though this is a rare occurrence. Water intoxication happens when people over ingest water. For this to happen, it would take a lot of effort, e.g., drinking over a liter of water per hour for several hours. Too much water in your system can cause low sodium levels and neurologic changes. Even though this rarely happens, it is still important to remember.
A good rule of thumb is to have at least eight ounces of water before each meal as well as at least two to three times throughout the day. This routine will keep you well hydrated and possibly prevent you from overeating at meals. As mentioned earlier, if you exercise, you also will need to replace that extra water lost through perspiration. I recommend you consider purchasing a quality water bottle to reuse daily to help keep you on track. I have one that has hourly reminders written on the bottle with me all day on my desk, in my car, and during workouts. It helps to remind me to drink water throughout the day.
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.
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