Water is absolutely essential to the everyday functions of you body. From your breath and sweat to your hearing, water helps the body perform a vast range of minor and major operations.
So, what happens if you don’t drink enough water? And beyond that, how much water should you be drinking each day? As with most health topics, the answer varies from person to person.
How Much Is Enough?
We’ve all heard the instruction to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But does this recommendation have any clinical grounding? The truth is, there are many different clinical recommendations for how much H2O you should be consuming each day. But looking at all of the guidelines, there is a common thread—they all seem to indicate a target intake of about 2 liters of fluid.
Again, however, how much water you need depends largely on your body and daily activities. If you take part in strenuous daily exercise, your body will need more water. Likewise for pregnant or nursing women—who should consume closer to three liters of fluids each day.
Making Every Sip Count
So you have a good idea of how much water you should be drinking, but you’re having trouble hitting the mark. Don’t sweat it! Here are some tips to help you ward off dehydration:
- Think outside the water bottle. In moderation, calorie-free or low-calorie sports drinks and beverages can be a good substitute.
- Drink up during meals. When you sit down to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, fill up a glass with water and drink while you eat.
- Focus on refills. Carry a refillable water bottle with you to keep track of how much water you’ve had to drink.
Tired? It May Be Lack of Water
Water is essential to the proper functioning of each and every cell and organ system in your body. Your car might run perfectly fine with a half a tank of gas but your body is a lot less tolerant when it starts running low on water. If you are just 2% short of your optimal water supply you’ll begin to experience symptoms of dehydration such as excess thirst, memory lapses, difficulty focusing and daytime fatigue.
Medical experts have estimated that about three quarters of the American working population regularly experience mild, chronic dehydration.
As with any other health topic, if you have questions about hydration, talk with your physician. He or she may be able to provide specific recommendations for you.