How Much Water Should You Drink?
Your body is made up of at least 50% water. Your organs, skin, blood and even bones consist of a large amount of water. With this in mind, how do you keep the right balance and how much water should you drink in a day?
Water is essential in every system and function of the body, and has many responsibilities. For example, water:
- is a building block of new cells and the key nutrient every cell relies on for survival
- metabolises and transports proteins and carbohydrates from the food you eat to nourish your body
- helps the body flush waste, mainly through urine
- helps maintain a healthy body temperature through sweat and respiration when the temperature rises
- is part of the “shock absorber” system in the spine
- protects sensitive tissue
- is part of the fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and a baby in the womb
- is the main ingredient in saliva
- helps keep joints lubricated
How to maintain healthy water levels
Getting enough water depends on the food and beverages you consume each day. The ideal amount of water you should consume varies greatly, depending on factors such as age, weight, health, and activity level.
Your body naturally tries to maintain healthy water levels by excreting excess water in urine. The more water and fluids you drink, the more urine is produced in the kidneys.
If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t go to the bathroom as much because your body tries to conserve fluids and maintain an appropriate water level. Too little water consumption raises the risk of dehydration and possible harm to the body.
Calculating water consumption
To calculate how much water you should drink daily to maintain a healthy amount of water in your body, divide your weight in pounds by 2 and drink that amount in ounces.
To convert to metric, one pound is 0.454kg and one ounce is 28.35 grams. Water weighs 1 gram per ml, so converting to liquid amounts is easy.
For example, a 180-pound person should aim for 90 ounces of water, or about seven to eight 12-ounce glasses, each day. So in metric terms this means an 81kg person should drink around 2.5 litres of water a day.
Keep in mind that you can consume water in a variety of ways. A glass of orange juice is mostly water, for instance.
Be careful, though, because caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, or certain sodas, can have a diuretic effect. You will still retain a lot of the water in those drinks, but the caffeine will make you urinate more often, so you’ll lose more fluid than you would drinking water.
Alcohol has also diuretic properties and isn’t a healthy way to reach your water-consumption goals.
Dehydration is particularly risky with the current climate, and even more so for people exercising or working physical jobs in the hot weather.
Your perspiration will dry up more quickly accelerating the risk of dehydration, making adequate hydration even more key for active people in the hot weather.
Thirst is the most obvious sign of dehydration, but your body is actually becoming dehydrated before you feel thirsty. Dark urine, fatigue and dry mouth are signs that you’re becoming dehydrated.
Consuming enough water should be easy if you make a point of remembering to hydrate regularly throughout the day. You’re in the healthy range if your body water percentage is over 50%, so hydrating sufficiently to maintain that is key.