Water is one of the most essential components of human existence. It is required for an organism to survive in this world.
Not drinking enough water in a day is a major cause of many illnesses that beset human beings. It is a key requirement for good health.
Everybody has varying views on how much water should be consumed every day. There are questions, there are opinions, but there are no easy answers.
The remedy is simple – there is no fixed measure which is universally applicable.
What one can know is that each person’s water needs differ from the other person based on a plethora of factors – a person’s body constitution and condition, his health issues, age, sex, amount of daily activity, climatic conditions, just to name a few.
There is no one single formula that everybody can apply to understanding how much water to drink.
Each of us needs to take in various factors that determine our way of life and come to estimation. You know your body and you are the one to decide the amount of water consumption.
Water is a basic necessity as every system in the body is dependent on it for their functioning. It is the body’s principal chemical component.
A sixty percentage of your body weight is made up by water.
It flushes out toxins from the body, whose accumulation is otherwise fatal. It also helps carry nutrients to your cells and provides the right kind of environment for many organs to function.
Reduced consumption leads to a condition called Dehydration.
Dehydration refers to your body lacking the required amount of water even to carry out basic bodily functions like respiration, digestion, excretion etc. Even mild instances of dehydration can leave you fatigued and low in energy.
It is lost by the body through the acts of sweating, urinating and bowel movements.
Not only do you lose electrolytes, you also lose important nutrients like sodium and potassium which are integral to the functioning of cells in your body.
If you notice keenly, you might get cramps due to severe dehydration after workouts because of this very reason.
Nutritionists and food experts help us at this juncture by asking us distinguish between the amount of water you consume and the amount of fluids you consume in a day.
The common advice of drinking eight glasses of water per day is actually a misconstruction. What researchers mean when they say eight glasses, they are actually referring to the fluids as a whole, and not just water itself.
The main reason for this is because we also consume water in the form of other fluids, like fruit juices, semi-solid foods, beverages throughout the day.
Even solid foods contain enough amount of water, though it is not externally visible to the eyes. Meat, fish and eggs, especially, are water-rich foods.
These fluids also make up for the total amount of water in your body. One of the major myths is that drinking beverages like tea and coffee are not considered as adding to the fluid content.
Tea and coffee are counted as diuretics as they lead to the production and elimination of urine in the body. This leads to the understanding that tea and coffee actually eliminate the fluid content from the body instead of holding up water.
Studies have shown that this is not the case. They have also proved that the diuretic effects of coffee and tea are very weak, and hence they must be counted as fluids.
The point is also not about how much you drink. It is about how often you consume.
Yes, it is definitely necessary to drink enough fluid, but care must be taken to ensure that you drink at regular intervals of time.
Do not leave large gaps of time between the occasions when you drink water. Do not drain all the nutrients in your body and make it crave for water. Do not wait for your body to show signs of dehydration.
There are a few signs of dehydration that you must watch out for.
Feeling thirsty and having a dry mouth is the primary signs of your body indicating the need. Fatigue, lethargy, constant headaches, reduced ability to concentrate, fainting or dizziness are sure shot signs of dehydration.
When you feel any of the above-mentioned symptoms, be sure to go down a bottle or glass of water. The color of your urine is a strong indicator of your body’s water needs. Your urine must always be clear.
Having yellow urine is a clear sign of dehydration. Healthy urine is always colorless in nature. As and when you replenish your body’s water reserves, you should be able to notice a change in the color of your urine as well.
In a bid to increase your consumption, ensure that you don’t consume way too much.
Regular over-consumption leads to a disorder called hyponatremia, which refers to the dissolution of sodium in your body due to too much fluid.
Once the nutrients are dissolved, the body loses its required levels of concentrated nutrients. Once this happens, your sodium levels can go so low and deplete that it is actually fatal. Though it is an extremely uncommon disorder, be sure to not overdo it. To get back lost nutrients, a quick way is to drink sports drinks like Gatorade or eat a spoon of glucose.
One of the simplest ways of consuming lost sodium is also by adding half a spoon of table salt to a tall glass of water. If you among the type that sweats a lot, then you should take even more care about the amount of electrolytes you are consuming.
A major problem in this loss and regaining of water is the fact that the human body does not have the natural capacity to store water when available in plenty. Thus, the onus is on us to replenish the body’s lack.
The 8*8 Rule
There are as many differing views as there are on how much water one should consume every day.
All of them claim to be experts and provide us with scientific evidence for each of their positions. There are some who opine that one should consume about two liters of water every day, on an average.
Called as the 8*8 rule, they claim that we need to drink eight-ounce glasses of water eight times in a day. There are others who believe that the body is capable of severe dehydration and thus we should keep sipping it continuously throughout the day, even if the body shows no sign of depletion.
There are some others who espouse that water consumption should be measured and we need to drink it not all the time, but only when we are thirsty.
Drink more water to increase brain functioning
Those who claim that we need to drink more water explain their position by means of studies that show that drinking more improves brain functioning.
Not only that, it also leads to an increased amount of energy levels in your body and keeps you active throughout the day. Less water supply leads to body exhaustion and drains the cells of all energy. It also leads to a decreased amount of concentration and increased amount of mood swings.
Studies have also revealed that less consumption of water increases the probability of you suffering from headaches. Mild dehydration is caused by exercise or by sweating profusely in hot climates.
This increased temperature and production of heat in the body is injurious to the functioning of other organs in the human body.
Mild dehydration also leads to decreased level of physical performance, thereby negatively causing a decrease in the endurance of the human body.
More water helps you lose weight!
Another reason provided by people to vouch for more drinking of water is that more water intake leads to a possibility of weight loss.
The idea is that the more the body is hydrated, the more the levels of metabolism and hence, a reduced appetite.
Studies have also shown that drinking more water can only temporarily boost the rates of metabolism.
It has also been proven that drinking a large glass of water half an hour before consuming any meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner, can whet your appetite and make you consume less amount of food, and perhaps a reduced amount of calories.
However, many other experts believe that this definitely should not be a reason to drink. Drinking more for the purpose of decreased appetite and weight loss can affect the body negatively in the long run.
Though it might lead to weight loss, care must be taken to ensure that it is also coupled with a healthy diet. Reduced intake of food may also mean reduced amount of nutrients in the body.
Keeps you away from many health problems
Drinking the right amount of water can lead to a general, overall improvement in your health. The effect might not be specific or overnight, but will show gradually, over a period of time.
Health Benefits of Water
Cancer: Some studies have shown that those who drink more water are at a lesser risk of developing bladder and colorectal cancer.
Constipation: People who struggle with gastrointestinal disorders related to digestion and excretion can greatly benefit from drinking more water.
Increased water content in the body can aid in the process of digestion and excretion. Constipation is a great source of discomfort for many individuals and it can all be cured by just drinking more water!
Acne: It also ensures proper flow of fluids in the body and stops the accumulation of excessive oil production.
Your skin gets hydrated and thus, prevents the formation of acne. Increased water consumption also smoothens your skin and gives your face a healthy glow and complexion.
Kidney Stones: It is also beneficial to the kidneys as it has been proved to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. On the other hand, ensure that you don’t drink too much water as it leads to the kidneys being overloaded with work.
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Natural Ways of consumption
Maintaining a certain level of balance in the body is integral to human life.
When the fluid level in our body drops below a certain level, you begin to feel thirsty. And your automatic response is to drink it.
Most individuals find the right amount of balance by just following their body’s orders.
Some circumstances might arise wherein your body cannot tell you how much water to drink. For example, you might not feel thirsty after walking in the sun for a long time, but your body has definitely sweat enough to feel the need for replenishment.
Increased sweating, especially in tropical climates is a strong indicator of requiring more fluid. Mothers who are breastfeeding their children also require more amount as compared to other women.
People who are experiencing vomiting and diarrhea also require an increased consumption of water.
Not so surprisingly, many studies have shown that thirst mechanisms start malfunctioning as people get older. Therefore, older people should watch how much water they are consuming.
After reading about the various views on how much water is best for an individual, one can conclude that there is no authority that sets this benchmark. We are our own best judge. It varies from individual to individual and from circumstance to circumstance.
What one can do is consciously watch your body and your activity levels and decide what is optimal. For some people, drinking more water can actually be beneficial, while for some others, it might only lead to further problems. It depends from person to person, climate, physical activities,
Just drink it when your body indicates so.
Do not delay
Stop when you feel full
Do not over-consume
When you are engaged in activities that lead to sweating, increase your intake, to replace the lost fluids.
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