Are You Drinking Enough Water? A Definitive Guide To Being A Part Of The Hydration Nation

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Sure, we’ve all heard of the importance of drinking water. Many of us have been given varying advice on just how many liters that would entail, ranging from the conservative 2 and ambitious 4 to the more mystical “as much as your body needs and asks for.” So just how many bottles should you be filling up every day? And does it even matter if you hit those recommended numbers or are they just a rough estimate? We’ll save you hours of research online and possible doctor consultation fees with this guide to drinking water. 

Water Isn’t Overrated, It Really Is Essential

Chugging bottles of soda might not be the best replacement for water, no matter what convoluted defense you might find for it on the internet. Even mild dehydration brought on by sweating, exercise, or a particularly hot day without any lemonade in sight can significantly affect your physical and mental performance. For instance, research has found that just a 1% loss of body water adversely affects muscle strength and endurance. In one study, women with a 1.36% fluid loss post exercise experienced mood swings, lowered concentration, and frequent headaches. There’s also evidence to show that not drinking water for 36 hours leads to fatigue, impaired attention and memory, and lowered reaction speed. If that’s not bad enough, research has found that not drinking enough water over a long period of time can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. 

Staying hydrated is crucial to regulate body temperature, stave off infections, keep your immune system working well, deliver nutrients to cells in the body, keep all your organs functioning properly,  and ensure your joints are lubricated. So don’t go saying goodbye to your sipper bottle just yet. 

A Glass Of Water Is A Gift That Keeps On Giving

Rewards await you at the bottom of every glass of water. Not only do we need it to survive but having enough water has been found to improve one’s quality of sleep, boost mood, and positively affect cognition. 

Claims that drinking water can help you shed inches aren’t entirely unfounded as well. Studies have found that drinking water can slightly, temporarily boost metabolism, helping you burn more calories in a day. In fact, drinking more water than usual, in one study, was found to be directly correlated to a decrease in body weight and body composition scores. Another study found that drinking 2 liters of water in a day increased energy expenditure by at least 23 calories a day due to a faster metabolism. 

In addition to this, if you drink a glass of water before a meal, you’re more likely to eat fewer calories, partly because the body tends to mistake thirst for hunger. For instance, one study found that people who drank 500 ml of water before each meal lost 44% more weight over the span of 3 months when compared to people who didn’t. 

If all of these reasons aren’t enough to get you to grab a glass of water right away, the fact that it can help you stave off several diseases might. Research has found that increasing water intake can help you ease constipation, keep recurring urinary tract and bladder infections at bay, and decrease the risk of kidney stones as well. 

Cosmetic benefits of drinking water involve supple, more elastic skin with anecdotal evidence of fewer acne breakouts. Not to mention, if you tend to have chapped lips, drinking enough water will help keep the cracks away as well.

Your Diet, Health, And Environment Dictate Your Daily Hydration Needs

On average, experts recommend 11 cups (2.6 liters) of water per day for women and 16 cups (3.7 liters) for men. However, a more appropriate measure of your daily recommended intake depends on several factors and can change between you and your best friend, no matter how connected you might be. 

One such factor is where you live. If the weather where you live tends to veer on the side of hot, humid, dry and can’t-do-without-air conditioning, then you’d need a lot more water than if you’d lived high up in the mountains where you can’t do without a sweater or any high altitude location for that matter. Similarly, the weather in general can change your water needs as well. In the summer, you’re more likely to perspire so you’d need more glasses of water than if it were winter. Besides this, even how you spend most of your time can have an effect on how many times you should refill your water bottle. If you’re very indoorsy, you’re less likely to be thirsty than if you like spending time outdoors or in a heated room. 

Additionally, your diet is a major determiner. If you can’t get through the day without chugging down four cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverages (read, energy drinks), you’d be losing a lot of water through extra urination and would hence need more water to replenish your body of fluids. This also holds true if you eat a diet high in salty, spicy, or sugary food or if you don’t eat enough foods high in water like fruits and vegetables. 

Like heading to the gym every day or going for the stairs every time you’re confronted with the choice between the elevator and the staircase? You’d need far more water than someone sitting at a desk all day in order to cover water loss. If you’re under the weather and are losing fluids through vomiting or diarrhea, you’d need to up your water intake. Same goes for if you have a chronic health condition like diabetes, which will cause you to urinate frequently and lose a lot of water. Besides, certain medications like diuretics can also cause your water requirements to shoot up by a lot.

Pregnancy can also have an impact on your hydration needs. Since your body now is responsible for two (or more) humans, you’d need to up your water intake significantly. 

Drinking Sugary Drinks Doesn’t Count As Hydration, But Sipping Soups Does

Not all your water needs have to come from plain water. On an average, 20% of our water needs come from the foods we eat. This includes fruits and vegetables high in water like watermelon, oranges, cucumber, berries, and celery. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages might seem like a good way to stay hydrated, but they make you lose fluids and are also terrible for your overall health, leaving you with health complications that even the benefits of drinking water can’t save you from. Skip the sugary soda and grab some soup, herbal tea, or unsweetened juice whenever you’re tired of drinking plain water. 

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