While we all know how important it is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, sometimes it can be easy to overlook the foundation of any healthy lifestyle: drinking enough water. Water is essential for almost every aspect of your health and daily functioning. Since water comprises about 60 percent of the human body, this really should come as no surprise. Simply enough, life as we know it couldn’t exist without water.
In this blog, we’re taking a closer look at just how important water is for a happy and healthy body and mind. We then address just how much water the average adult needs each day and why the “8 cups a day” rule we’ve all heard may not really hold up.
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8 Benefits of Drinking Enough Water
When you’re looking to make a change to improve your diet, one of the easiest ways to do so is to increase the amount of water you drink each day. While it might seem like water is available pretty much anywhere, some of us still don’t get enough each day.
Without adequate hydration, your body can experience dehydration that may lead to your body overheating, a poor mood, sleeplessness, or even kidney stones.
Some of the most important reasons to drink enough water each day include:
- Regulate a normal body temperature
- Lubrication for joints
- Protect your spinal cord and other critical areas
- Strong kidney function
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Skin health
- More efficient digestion
- Blood pressure regulation
How Much Water Do You Really Need?
It’s pretty clear to see just how important water is for both your physical and mental health. But how much is enough to maintain optimal health and wellness? Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age, fitness level, activity level, and where you live, the amount of water you need each day will inevitably vary.
But doctors have identified a standard for the average man and woman. According to the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, doctors suggest that adequate fluid intake should be:
- 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids for women
Of course, not all of your fluids will come directly from water and other beverages. Roughly 20 percent of your daily fluid intake will come from food.
So What About 8 Cups of Water a Day?
You’ve probably heard the “8 cups a day” rule for staying hydrated, but it isn’t quite this simple. For some, 8 glasses could be the ideal amount while other people won’t even need that much. The amount of water you need to stay healthy and hydrated depends on a variety of factors. Therefore, there’s no simple rule for determining the amount of water you need each day. Instead, your water intake needs will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Environment – a hot or humid environment will cause you to sweat more and increase your need for more fluids.
- Activity level – if you’re regularly exercising or engaging in physical activities like sports or a job, you’ll need to drink even more water.
- Pregnancy – for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, you may need additional fluids to keep hydrated.
- Overall level of health – when you’re sick, you’ll usually need additional fluids. Additionally, if you’re experiencing a health problem, such as a bladder infection, you’ll also want to drink more water than average.
Is Water My Only Option to Stay Hydrated?
While water is the healthiest and probably the most convenient source of hydration, it’s not your only option to prevent dehydration. Most other popular beverages, such as milk, juice, or teas, are primarily made of water, so they can help you meet your hydration goals. Even beverages like soda can help you stay hydrated, but these will also come with a lot of extra calories that can have a negative impact on your diet.
But it’s not just liquids that make a difference. You also get a lot of water from the foods you eat. Fruits and vegetables have an especially high water content. For example, some options, like watermelon or spinach, are almost 100% water by their weight.
Conclusion – How Much Water Do You Really Need?
If the old saying is “you are what you eat,” then you’re also what you drink. Since our bodies are roughly composed of 60 percent water, it’s essential to stay hydrated each day to ensure optimal health and functioning. For men, it’s recommended to get about 15 cups a day while, on average, women will need 11 cups. Of course, these levels will vary depending on where you live, how much you exercise, and other personal factors.
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