Is 8 Glasses of Water a Day Still the Gold Standard?
Updated: Sep 13, 2021
Water regulates your body temperature, lubricates your joints, and helps keep every system in your body running smoothly. It’s clear how crucial hydration is to health and survival, but how do you know for sure if you’re getting enough water? For decades, the 8 glasses a day rule has been recommended as a one-size-fits-all approach to hydration, but how accurate is it really? Drinking 8 glasses of water a day isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a pretty arbitrary standard when you consider all of the factors that affect water intake. When figuring out how much water you need to be healthy, here are some things to think about:
What is your body size? A good way to personalize your water intake is to aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces. For a 200 pound person, this would mean drinking 100 oz. of water a day, or about ¾ of a gallon.
How active are you? The more active you are, the more water you need. If you exercise frequently, you should drink water before, during and after each workout.
Do you sweat easily? If you’re prone to perspiring, make sure you’re replacing those lost fluids throughout the day.
What do you eat? If your diet includes a lot of spicy, sweet, or salty foods (or you love coffee!), you may want to also include some foods like spinach and watermelon, which are full of water.
What health conditions do you have? Some conditions like diabetes make you especially prone to dehydration. You also need more water when you’re sick, particularly if you have diarrhea/vomiting, an infection, or a fever.
Where do you live? If you live in a hot or humid climate your body will naturally lose water more quickly than someone in a more temperate climate. Also keep in mind that living in places with higher altitudes speeds up dehydration.
You’ll know you’re properly hydrated if a) you rarely feel thirsty, b) you urinate every 2-3 hours, and c) your urine is a light yellow color (clear urine can indicate overhydration). It’s best to drink water throughout the day - between meals, during meals, and any time you feel thirsty. If getting enough water still feels like a struggle, there are plenty of ways to up your fluid intake without making yourself drink water when you aren’t thirsty. You can always replace some of your glasses of water with other healthy beverages like herbal tea, milk, and fruit juice without added sugar.
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