There’s probably not a week that passes (especially during summer) when we hear or read that we’re supposed to be drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day. Is this true? Is it enough for some or too much for others? Most of us lose two to three quarts of water per day by urinating, sweating, etc. And, when we live in hotter environments or we’re athletes, we’re losing more of that needed water.
Drinking water helps us maintain our health because our body, which is made up of 55-70 percent water, doesn’t replenish itself. Many of us don’t even realize that we’re dehydrated. We might think we know better if we feel thirsty, but our level of thirst is not what we should be using to determine our hydration level. Too often we turn to a cold beverage that is filled with sugar and caffeine to ‘quench’ our thirst, but we’re actually doing the opposite.
A low level of dehydration can make us feel sluggish and not as mentally alert, but severe dehydration can be very dangerous. Some signs of dehydration include fatigue, thirst, dry and sticky mouth, less urination, constipation, dizziness, headache, fewer tears and lightheadedness. Most of the time we can observe our urine and notice its color. It should be a light yellow or clear. When our urine becomes too dark, it’s often a sign that we’re beginning to dehydrate. Different foods can also affect the color of urine.
Do you think you’re drinking enough water? There are some important things to remember about hydration. You should consume twice the amount of water you think you need to quench your thirst; drink at least eight glasses of water every day (or one cup for every 20 pounds of your body weight); and drink often throughout the day. It might make it easier for you to set aside your daily amount of water each day so that you know what you’re working with and how far along you are towards reaching your goal as the day goes on. Don’t include caffeinated beverages, coffee, soda or alcohol as part of your daily amount. They act as diuretics and make your body lose water. If you want something more exciting than water, try herbal teas or maybe putting a splash of citrus in your water.
You can break the habit of not getting enough water easily once you quickly notice how much better you feel when you’re properly hydrated. Make sure to carry a water bottle with you for convenience. Drink up and notice the multiple health benefits of water!