How Much Daily Water Intake Do You Really Need?
By Chris Brown
Water is the essential element of all earthly life. Every living creature needs it for survival and humans are no exception. However, now that we have ventured from our ancestral prehistoric swamps, we must replenish our body's water through manual consumption. The average person can only survive three days without water. And, while most have no problem getting enough to survive, surviving and being healthy are two very different things. Water plays an important role in most bodily functions and chronic dehydration can have life-altering effects in terms of cognitive performance and aging.
What Does Water Do for My Body?
Water makes up approximately 60 percent of the body and every organ and bodily function has evolved around it. Water is particularly important for:
- Brain functionality
- Joint and spinal cord lubrication
- Digestion and saliva production
- Transportation of oxygen throughout the body
- Cellular waste elimination
- Regulation of body temperature
- Balance of internal pH levels for bodily functionality
Its interaction with so many bodily processes means that even low levels of dehydration can have effects on performance and health, causing:
- Joint problems over time
- Premature skin aging
- Raised body temperature
- Blood pressure changes
- Susceptibility to heatstroke
Severe dehydration can even cause brain swelling and seizures. In general, one of the healthiest habitual additions is to drink water regularly.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
According to the U.S. National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adequate fluid intake is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. But rather than count your intake amounts, it is easier to simply pay attention to your body's needs. When you feel thirsty, drink water, simple as that. Environmental factors (such as heat or humidity) or exercise can require more fluid intake to remain optimally hydrated, so listening to your body is the best method of gauging water need.
Staying hydrated isn't just about drinking water. Typically, about 20 percent of people's daily fluid intake comes from food. Fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of hydration. So, if you don't like the hassle of continual sipping, selecting snacks heavy in water content can help hydrate while you eat.
Can I Drink Too Much Water?
A few years ago, there was a famous case of a fraternity pledge who died while being forced to drink too much water. Water intoxication occurs when the sodium levels in the blood drop (through dilution) below 135 millimoles per liter. Most often, though, unless one is overhydrating during intense sporting events, you cannot drink too much water by accident. Most people tend to drink too little, not too much water. However, if you start feeling nauseous or disoriented while consuming large amounts of water, it is smart to switch to an electrolyte drink (or salty snack) to ensure that your electrolyte balance does drop too low.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Harahan, La.