So we hear time and time again on the importance of water and why we need to drink it daily. We also typically hear that we need to consume 64ounces (8 cups) of water each day. This notion of 8 daily cups of 8oz of water has become popular over the years as a general rule of thumb, even though there’s no scientific evidence to back it up. While this is a good notion to live by, your water needs depend on a variety of different factors such as your physical activity level, body weight, and the temperature and humidity of where you live to name just a few.
So how much do you actually need?
According to the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that the average, healthy female adult should consume roughly 9 cups (2.2liters) of total FLUID each day, whereas a healthy male adult should consume about 3 cups (3 liters)*. Active individuals need even more, particularly if you’re engaging in intense exercise and in hot temperatures. So the 8 cups of 8ounces each day (roughly 1.9 liters) isn’t too far off from the Institute of Medicine’s guidelines. Another important thing to keep in mind too is that the guidelines are a recommendation for your total FLUID intake, not simply just water, thus all fluid counts from water in beverages and in food (keeping in mind that some sources are better than others of course). For example, milk and juice are mostly comprised of water and, yes, even the beloved coffee has water, but sugar-laden beverages such as sweetened teas and coffees, juices, and sodas should not be the majority of your daily fluid intake and should be consumed sparingly. Some of the foods you eat on a daily basis can even contribute to your daily fluid intake! Fruits like oranges and watermelon and veggies like tomatoes, lettuce, celery and spinach are composed of mostly water too.
What does H20 do for your body?
Water helps with:
- Regulating your body temperature
- Lubricating and cushions your joints and muscles
- Protecting your spinal cord and other tissues
- Eliminating wastes and toxins from your body
Why is it important?
Think of the plants in your garden. If you don’t give them enough water; they shrivel up, but once you give them water, they are able to perk right back up! That’s how it is for our bodies too. Water is in every cell, tissue, and organ within our bodies. Not enough water especially for athletes can lead to feeling fatigued, decreased performance, cardiovascular stress, heat illness, and dehydration. When your body is in a dehydrated state, you may experience more muscle cramping and loss of coordination. Twenty-four hours prior to vigorous exercise is particularly important for water consumption for athletes.
Easy tips to increasing your fluid intake:
Drinking plain water can be boring at times. I can definitely attest to that! Some easy ways to spice it up a bit and be more flavorful include:
- Adding lemon or lime wedges or even mint to your water
- Adding cucumber or oranges to a pitcher of water and letting it sit for a few hours in your fridge to enhance the taste!
- Making ice cubes with frozen fruit and adding them to your water
- Making iced tea with herbal caffeine free tea bags
- Keep a water bottle with you at all times! Places like Target, Kohl’s, or Walmart sell reusable waterbottles, such as the Contigo brand, that will not only help you keep up with your daily water intake but will also save you some money AND the environment!
*Some individuals have health problems that restrict their water intake. If you’re concerned about your fluid intake or have health issues, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s right for you!
American Council of Excerise (ACE). (2008) Fit Facts. Retrieved from: http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/pdfs/fitfacts/itemid_173.pdf
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012). Water: Meeting your Daily Water Needs. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html
Institute of Medicine (n.d.). Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride and sulfate. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_Water/73-185.pdf