Hydration: How Much Is Enough?
Dear Let’s Be Well:
My adult children are worried that I’m not drinking enough water, so they call me almost every day to remind me. I love them, but this is getting annoying. It’s August. It’s hot. I drink when I’m thirsty. Do they know something I don't know about the art and science of drinking water? Can I tell my little noodges to stop worrying about me and to mind their own buckets of water?
Dear H2O Crazed:
Telling your water-worriers to relax might not be enough. (Isn’t it wonderful they care, though?) Here’s a system to ensure you’re giving your body the hydration it needs, while reassuring your family.
It’s easy to lose track of how much water we’re drinking during our waking hours. And using thirst as the test is actually not so good for you. In fact, experts say if you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated — and that can be dangerous at any time of the year, not only during the hot summer months.
You might have heard the expression, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Well, give yourself a physical reminder of the water you’ll need to drink throughout the day. For example, in the morning when you’re getting organized, set one or more containers on your counter — your biggest favorite pitcher, or eight clear glasses, or several reusable plastic or metal bottles — and fill them up with water. (You could also do this at the office if you’re working, or in your hotel room if you’re traveling.)
By using this system, it will just take a minute to line up a whole day’s supply of H2O where you’ll easily see it and, more importantly, periodically drink it. (This system still works if you’re visually impaired: You can carefully fill and feel that collection of containers.)
If you have a smartphone, you can even be proactive with your concerned family members by taking a picture of all that water lined up and texting it to them: “Hellooo! Here’s all the water I’m drinking today. Don’t worry...really!”
What’s the big deal about drinking water? And how much is enough? Here are some quick water-wise facts and tips:
- About 60% of an adult human’s body is water. (The amount of water in each of our various components varies — less in the bones, more in the heart and brain.)
- The chemical H2O is basic to our survival. Water is crucial to pretty much every bodily function you can think of, from maintaining body temperature to flushing out toxins and keeping your mouth and nose moist. (This also means that it is used up through most of these functions as well, so you need to be constantly replenishing your body’s water reserves.)
- Water is especially important for heart health, because it allows your heart to pump blood more easily.
- A typical adult should drink 64 fluid ounces of water a day. You could probably survive on less for short periods, but you need this much to thrive.
- That’s equal to about eight glasses, or a couple of large pitchers. Of course, if you’re doing yard work or exercising, you’ll perspire more, so experts advise increasing that amount by 1.5 to 2 times during periods of physical activity.
- Bored with drinking plain water? Other beverages do contain water, but in varying amounts — and sometimes they add caffeine or sugar or other stuff you’re better off avoiding. Most fruits and vegetables are made up of roughly 90% water and have tons of vitamins and nutrients, so try adding them into your hydration rotation.
Using this daily water fill-up system has another benefit: consistency. If you’re consistent with your hydration, you’ll speed up your metabolism, feel fresh and energized, and could improve your heart health. It's such a simple but incredibly beneficial habit.
Stay ahead of your thirst, stay ahead of your water-worried kids, and make sure that even after the summer heat fades away you continue to get the H2O you need.
– The Let’s Be Well Team
This content is provided for your information only, and should not be relied on as medical advice; you should always consult your own physician before making changes to your own health or treatment plans.