Water is basic for human life. Up to 60% of our body weight is only water. We need water to drink, wash, clean, and cook. In short, our survival depends on water and without it, it is difficult to imagine life on earth.
Some even call water the fuel of our bodies. Just like our vehicles require fuel to run, similarly, our bodies need water to get energy and perform all of its required functions. Water is helpful in getting rid of body waste, regulating body temperature, lubricating and cushioning joints, maintaining the regular flow of blood inside your body and protecting sensitive tissue.
A lot of water is used while performing these functions, which also include digestion and even breathing. In essence, it becomes a basic need to reload the body with more water for it to function properly. Lack of water in the body could cause dehydration, which could further aggravate multiple issues such as muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, etcetera.
We all have heard about the need to drink “8 glasses of water a day”. Since everyone talks about it, we tend to believe and follow too. No one seems to question the reasoning or the logic behind it, thinking of it to be a healthy habit.
But, is it a scientific fact or just a myth? Do our bodies actually need 8 glasses of water a day or not? Do conditions and surroundings affect the body’s need for water? Does over-drinking water have any side effects? Let’s do a factual analysis of this age-old statement, and determine whether this widely popular ‘healthy habit’ is based on facts, or is just a myth!
Drinking 8 Glasses of Water a Day – Fact or Myth?
We are sorry to burst the bubble, but this popular claim isn’t backed by any scientific research. It is only a myth that has been carried around for too long, so much so that millions of people around the globe adopted it.
It started from a publication by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council in the year 1945, stating that each adult should consume about 1 mL water for each calorie of food that they consumed in a day. On average, the calorie intake of an adult is around 2000 calories, which meant one should drink 2000 mL water daily, which was further roughly translated into 8 glasses of water.
But, the same publication also stated that most of this quantity gets consumed with daily food intake. This important statement somehow got ignored and the recommendation was interpreted as an instruction that one should drink 8 glasses of water to stay healthy.
Surely, you must be wondering if this claim is wrong, then what is right? How much water does our body need then? Well, it is not so straightforward to answer as many people think. It is much more complicated and depends on multiple factors. What are these factors - let’s find out!
Which Factors Influence your Daily Water Requirements?
Your daily water requirement depends on multiple internal as well as external factors. These include:
People living in hot and humid geographical locations tend to lose water quickly due to perspiration. They require regular water intake at short intervals to stay hydrated and healthy. Dehydration is normally higher in areas located at a high-altitude due to rapid respiration and an increase in urination. As a result, the water requirements for locals of these areas is more than those living in moderately temperate conditions.
When doing any physical activity like exercise, walking, running, etc. Your body requires the extra energy that it derives from water. There is a quick loss of body fluid and it comes out in the form of sweat. It is very important for people who are involved in physical activities (If you are not currently working out everyday, you need to start.) to drink more water, ideally before, during, and after the physical activity to stay hydrated.
The human body tends to lose a lot of water during bouts of illness. For example, water loss increases during fever due to increased body temperature. Similarly, a high amount of body fluid is also lost during vomiting and diarrhea. Other conditions such as urinary tract stones, bladder infections, gout, and constipation too result in rapid loss of fluid. And the body requires more water to make up for these losses.
Water requirements increase during pregnancy due to the extraordinary needs of the body. However, during breastfeeding or lactation, the requirements for water by the body increase hugely. You may be required to drink up to an additional liter of water every day to cover up for the water loss that takes place during this portion of the motherhood period.
With increased age, people generally develop a decreased sense of thirst. This puts them at a high risk of dehydration. It has been found in studies that people above 60 years of age feel less thirst and hence do not drink as much water as their body requires. This results in multiple problems even under the slightest of environmental stress such as heat or humidity.
Diet affects water requirements in two different ways. First, we consume a lot of water through food. All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of water that serve the required needs. Secondly, the amount of protein that our diet has plays an important role in determining the water needs of our body. Proteins are known for holding on to fluids in the blood for longer. As such, a person who has lower protein intake will get dehydrated earlier than a person who has high protein intake throughout his diet.
What are other sources of intake of water, apart from straight up drinking water?
One more important factor that gets ignored while assessing the required needs of water by our body is the number of other fluids that we intake through other sources. There are so many other beverages and foods that we consume every day, and these also help in meeting the daily fluid needs.
Many fruits and vegetables have a high quantity of water in them. Vegetables such as celery, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, lettuce have as much as 90% water in them. Also, other vegetables such as broccoli, green cabbage, spinach and cauliflower are high in water content, providing many other minerals, nutrients and antioxidants.
In fruits, apricots, peaches, oranges, lime, blueberries, and raspberries are good sources of water. On the other hand, melons including cantaloupe and watermelons have up to 90 percent water content and are excellent sources of water.
We drink a lot of beverages every day. These include coffee, tea, milk, juice, caffeinated drinks such as cola and soda amongst others. People that do a lot of physical work or are involved in any kind of sports also intake energy drinks to restore lost electrolytes in the body.
All these factors have a crucial role in deciding the daily amount of water you should drink. It cannot be the same for everyone, and so everyone has different water requirements. But is there any recommendation from experts that can help you assess how much water your body needs?
How Much Water Should We Drink Daily?
You must be wondering by now that if “8 glasses of water per day” is just a myth and there are multiple factors and sources that impact our water requirements, then exactly how much water do we need every day?
According to experts, there isn’t any fixed suggestion for the quantity of water that you should drink in a day. We just need to drink as much as our body demands, and that should be good to go. However, a study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine established that on average, taking into consideration all the external and internal factors, about 3.7 liters for men, and 2.7 liters for women is adequate and sufficient level of water that you should drink.
However, this is just a suggestion, and you should be the one to assess your body’s needs and drink water observing that. The main aim should be to keep a balance and drink water as soon as you are thirsty. Our bodies have a built-in satiation reflex that lets us know that we shouldn’t be drinking more water when there is a sufficient level inside. It's important to understand this, because if you drink more than you need, then it can cause complications.
Complications due to Overdrinking
Drinking too much water is known as water intoxication. This can cause multiple issues such as hyponatremia, a condition that arises when your kidneys are not able to excrete the extra water within the body, further resulting in dilution of the sodium content of your body. This can be life-threatening, especially for athletes who participate in intense workouts
Other points that can help you to assess when you have an adequate quantity of water in your system include:
- Not feeling any thirst
- The color of your urine is indeed the best way to analyze how much water we have in the body. The darker yellow it is, the less water you have.
Additionally, you can visit a dietician or a nutritionist, and they can assess factors such as your climate, diet intake, and body health to give you a more accurate analysis of how much water you should drink per day.
Do water requirements change when you drink Alkaline Water instead of regular Water?
Alkaline Water refers to water with a pH level of more than 7. It has great benefits as it restores the pH balance of the gut and prevents problems and diseases such as GERD, heartburn, acidity, headache and nausea that can happen due to acidosis.
Moreover, alkaline water gets absorbed in the cells faster and keeps you hydrated for longer periods. If you switch to alkaline water, then your body's requirements will be less in comparison to drinking regular water since the cells retain it for a longer period.
You can get yourself a DYLN Bottle that comes with a VitaBead Diffuser that within minutes creates you alkaline water. You can carry the bottle with you wherever you want, and by registering it, keep a check of how much water you are drinking.
Now, we know that the answer to the burning question of whether or not you should drink 8 glasses of water every day is a big no. The amount of water you should drink depends on several factors. Make sure you have that in mind when deciding on how much you need.
Besides, you can use the body’s natural indicators such as the color of urine and thirst to assess your water requirements. Always make sure that you stay balanced in your approach since drinking less water will lead to dehydration, causing issues like weakness, vomiting, tiredness and disruption of blood flow.