How much water should we drink?
Asking how many ml of water should you drink per day is almost impossible to answer.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ for deciding how much fluid to drink a day. Our needs depend on a range of personal factors. It largely depends on your state of health and how active you are. We expel water through our breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. All has to be replenished from our intake of beverages and foods that contain water.
According to the US National Academy of Medicine, the required intake of combined fluids from both foods and beverages per day is 3 Litres for men. The required intake for women is 2.2 Litres.
You may have heard the standard advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day”. This would equate to approximately 1.9 Litres. This “8 X 8” rule has been promoted as a healthy recommendation because it’s easy to remember. You must be aware that, if this is routinely implemented, this volume must be added to the fluid intake from other meal-time beverages and foods.
Take a sip of water regularly through the day.
Most of us probably need to drink more water but how do we know if we are drinking enough? We need enough to maintain good health but because our intake needs vary, striking the right balance can be difficult to do.
Drink enough water to stay alert
Just a drop of 1 or 2% in over-all body weight due to either exercise or hot weather can lead to the slowing of brain function.
There have been studies to show that after exercise our cognitive response level is reduced because of a degree of dehydration.
Being dehydrated can effect our cognitive response levels even to the point of being compared to being over the alcohol limit when driving.
It isn’t just from exercise. If we spend time in a hot environment for any length of time without rehydrating regularly, this can have the same effect.
If you spend a lot of time working in an office environment with air conditioning you will be comfortable in lots of ways. The only down side is that you will dehydrate. An added problem is that your skin will also show signs of dehydration.
If you are the adventurous type and you find yourself walking around at altitudes of 8,000ft or more you will notice the onset of increased urination together with faster breathing. This will result in losing fluids which have to be replaced.
Being dehydrated can also affect our physical stamina levels, if you want to keep going when others may want to stop then make sure that you take on enough water.
Don’t over do it.
It’s possible to drink too much water, if we force ourselves, leading to water intoxication. Known as hyponatremia, this leads to sodium levels in the blood dropping. It’s very important to be aware that this can happen.
Thankfully, we have a natural mechanism that regulates the amount of fluid we take in. We have a swallowing-inhibitor which is activated by the brain when our personal intake level has been reached. This helps to ensure that the required balance is achieved.
Nature helps us to save us from drinking too much but the problem most people have, with busy lives, is ensuring that we drink enough. 60 percent of our body weight is water. Everything about our being depends on water. Our vital organs rely on water to flush through and expel toxins. Our cell regeneration requires adequate water intake together with maintaining sufficient moisture levels in the ears, nose and throat.
Maintain sodium salt intake
When doing heavy physical work, exercise or spending time in a hot climate be aware that when you perspire you will lose sodium salts through your sweat.
If you do nothing to replace these salts then you run the risk of developing hyponatremia.
Sodium is an electrolyte which performs the function of regulating the level of water in our blood cells.
If we indulge in excessive activities or spend time in high-temperature conditions and drink a lot of fluid as a result, the levels of sodium salts in our system will become diluted.
Because of the dilution of sodium the water level in our blood cells will rise above normal levels. This will lead to the cells swelling which, depending on the level of dilution, can bring about a range of uncomfortable symptoms. In extreme cases this problem can be life threatening.
The symptoms of hyponatremia include these:
- Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
- Loss of energy and fatigue
- Restlessness and irritability
In really severe cases it can lead to seizures and can even induce a coma. The condition can be life threatening so take it seriously.
The solution to this is quite literally to drink a sodium solution drink in the shape of a ‘sports’ drink that contains sodium.
There is also an increased risk if you are taking diuretic drugs which are designed to force the expulsion of water. The combination of this and excessive activity can lead to low sodium levels.
Know when to call for medical assistance
If you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms above and you are feeling the need to drink excessive amounts of water then you must seek medical advice straight away.
Find out a bit more about the need to drink enough water right here!
Drinking water will help you to lose weight
Try to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water, whether you want it or not, just before every meal. This will make you feel temporarily full just at the time when you are about to eat. This is a harmless physical way to reduce food intake.
A trial of this method has shown that drinking a modest amount of water before a meal will result in reducing the intake of about 75 calories at that meal sitting.
Given that this is the case then if we drink water before one meal in every day this would mean 27,000 less calories consumed in one whole year. Doing this before every meal of the day can only reduce calorie intake further.
Drink ice-cold water for best results
For the best weight-loss effect drink only cold water as the body will then have to work hard to burn calories to raise the water to body temperature. This will help you to lose weight apart from the fact that fresh icy water is more refreshing than tepid water straight out of the cold tap.
Water in food
Some foods contain a surprising amount of water and it all counts as part of our daily intake. These are the fruits and vegetables that make up our diet.
Among the fruits that contain the highest amount of water are, of course, the water melon together with strawberries which stand at around 92% water.
Grapefruit contains 91% water and peaches contain 88%. Bananas may appear to some as being drier but they are made up of 74% water.
The highest water content among vegetables include cucumbers 96% water, celery 95% and tomatoes at 93%.
Eating high water-content fruit can be more beneficial than drinking water or sports drinks. Natural fruits and vegetables contain sugars and a collection of compounds including amino acids, vitamins and mineral salts which replace much of which is lost while exercising. The calorific value of these natural foods is quite low and leave a feeling of being full when eaten.
Food drinks such as milk contain water as do fruit juices. Then there are the recreational drinks of beer, wine, coffee and tea which add to our fluid intake. These shouldn’t be relied on as a primary source of hydration. Coffee and tea tend to be diuretic and should be consumed in moderation.
The best and safest way to remain hydrated is to drink enough water as it is relatively cheap and has zero calories.
Drink more water but from what source
If you are lucky enough to have a private water supply you will have constant access to fresh water straight from the rock. This will have no treatment chemicals and you know that it hasn’t been anywhere else before you get to drink it.
Depending on where you are in the world, mains-supplied water can vary in quality. I’ve visited places in the developed world where I just can’t drink the water because it’s so bad. The only way around this is to take bottled water which is guaranteed fresh spring-water.
Bottled water or tap water
When we buy bottled water we make the assumption that we are buying something that is pure unadulterated spring water. I fear that this isn’t always the case. You need to look closely at the label and establish exactly where the bottled water has come from. You may find that it has come from a municipal supply. It will be filtered and safe to drink but it may not be the glacier water that it’s labelled to be. It’s believed that about 25% of the bottled water out there isn’t actually as described and you are spending good money for it.
Depending on the quality of your tap water in the area where you live, you may need to buy bottled water regardless of where it comes from just to have decent drinking water that doesn’t taste of a cocktail of chemicals.
If the taste of your tap water is good enough it may be more practical and cheaper to fit a tap water filter cartridge and fill your own bottles. They aren’t too expensive compared to buying bottled water regularly.
See how you fit it into your supply line here:
The popularity of buying bottled water has risen over the years. It is much more convenient to go into a shop and get a bottle there rather than lugging around a bottle that you’ve filled from your tap at home.
There is a growing problem with buying bottled water. The question is, what happens to the empties? Most people are responsible and dispose of them properly. Those of us who do this are relying on others to make sure that the next stage of processing is carried out properly.
Who knows how many plastic water bottles are used each year and how much plastic ends up in the ocean.
We must all do what we can to ensure that all plastics are either recycled or disposed of in a safe, non polluting way. This should be possible because water bottles are clean on the inside having had water in them.
How plastic affects the environment
When we buy a bottle of water or anything held in plastic wrapping we should be asking what effect does plastic have on our environment? We’ve all seen empty plastic bottles, along with everything else, littered on the sides of our roads.
Ongoing investigations are revealing that a significant amount of plastic is finding its way into our oceans where it breaks down into minute micro-particles. We have yet to have a full understanding of plastic affecting marine life and any lasting consequences.
Having your own water bottle with you which you refill from the cold tap at home would be a good way of doing your bit to help prevent problems down the line.
Keep it simple
Trying to calculate the exact amount of water we should be drinking is probably a pointless exercise. The best you can do is keep a bottle of water with you at all times and take a swig as and when you feel you need it.
If you’ve exposed yourself to extreme activity be aware that you need to replace the sodium salts that you will have lost through sweating.
Eat a piece of fruit rather than take a sports drink as this is a more natural source of sugar.