Water is the main component of the human body. In fact, 60 percent of our body is made up of water. Every organ in our body needs water to function correctly. Water plays a pivotal role in maintaining body temperature. It also helps to flush out wastes. Our body loses water regularly through sweat and urine. So, it is essential to stay hydrated. This brings us to a fundamental question – How many ounces or glasses of water should I drink every day?
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How much water should I drink a day?
Though the general opinion is that we must have at least eight glasses of water a day. Is it right? Not necessarily! It all depends on where you live, the weather, health condition and the kind of lifestyle you follow.
You don’t have to blindly follow the eight glasses a day rule as it can be quite misleading. Water requirements might vary from person to person, depending on their age, sex and activity level. In fact, the water intake for the same person can vary depending on their activity for the day.
Also, when doctors recommend that there should be 2L (Litres) or 3L (Litres) of fluid intake in a day, it doesn’t have to be all water. Milk, juice, coffee and even water content in the food we eat, contributes to the fluid intake in our body. So, drink when you are thirsty because your body will indicate when you are dehydrated.
Let’s see, what The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends when it comes to water need for people in different age groups and medical conditions.
Daily water need for an adult
Young Men and Women, in the age group of 19 to 30 years, should consume 3.7 Litre and 2.7 Litre of water respectively. Do remember that the suggested quantity of total fluids includes drinking water and other types of fluids which you get from different beverages, fruits and food items.
Just to make above figures more realistic, let’s do the conversion of units. One litre is equivalent to 33.814 oz or 4 cups. So, men can drink ~ 14 to 15 cups of total fluids in a day. Whereas women can drink ~ 9 to 10 cups of fluids.
Daily water need for children
Even in the case of kids and teens, water consumptions depends on age and gender. Generally, the water intake should be in between 6 to 8 cups of water. Here also, the quantity includes water from various sources such as different foods and beverages. Kids may require drinking more water after any physical activity, especially in hot weather conditions.
As per Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, kids in the age range of 4 to 8 years require 5 cups or 40 ounces (oz) of water per day. The amount increases to 7 to 8 cups in the case of kids aged between 9 to 13 years. For teens in the age group 14 to 18 years, the recommended water intake goes to 8 to 11 cups. The lower number of cups are applicable to girls, whereas the higher number of cups are applicable to girls.
Water intake if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
The Institute of Medicine recommends pregnant women to drink around 10 cups or 80 oz of water daily. However, this may vary based on the climatic conditions, altitude, activity, etc. On the other side, if you are breastfeeding then the quantity of water intake increases to 13 cups or 104 oz.
Why is water important for our body?
Water is vital for many essential functions of our body which are:
Water hydrates our body. It is needed for lubrication of joints, and it also protects our eyes, brain and spinal cord. Water is an essential component of blood, digestive fluids and saliva. Water also helps food to move through our intestines.
We have to maintain the correct pH balance in our body, which is essential for good health. Water does this job for us quite efficiently. The ph balance is the first line of defence of our body against any illness.
Water helps to maintain the temperature of our body. Evaporation of water from the skin surface removes excess heat from the body.
Nutrient transportation and waste removal
Water is the main constituent of blood and helps in transportation of nutrients throughout the body. It also helps in elimination of waste in our intestines and through urine.
Does drinking water help in weight loss?
Among the many benefits of drinking water is weight loss. It does this by boosting our metabolism and reducing appetite. According to research, if we drink two litres of water a day, it can increase our energy expenditure by 96 calories per day. Follow these simple steps to achieve your weight loss aim.
- Drink water half an hour before each meal. This will make you feel fuller and suppress your appetite.
- Have plain and refreshing water instead of high-calorie drinks like juice, soda, tea and coffee. Add a dash of lemon to your water for some flavour. Lemon also helps in reducing food cravings,
- Chilled water is better at boosting metabolism. When you drink chilled water, your body has to work towards heating up the water, and this helps in expending more calories.
- According to many nutritionists, drinking an adequate amount of water is essential if you want to lose weight. While eight glasses are enough during the day, if you are exercising you must add more water to your diet.
Can drinking more water help treat diseases?
More and more doctors now believe that drinking more water helps in preventing and treating certain diseases. Let us learn about the medical benefits of drinking more water.
- Kidney stones: The most common cause of kidney stones is not drinking enough water. Water dissolves the substance that forms stones in the kidneys. Drink at least 12 glasses of water a day to help get rid of kidney stones.
- Urinary Tract Infection: It is a natural phenomenon that the more water you drink, the more you will urinate. This will remove harmful UTI causing bacteria from our bladder.
- Heartburn: If you are suffering from acidity and heartburn drink more water. This will flush out the acids in the stomach and give you relief.
- Constipation: Too little water consumption can lead to constipation and haemorrhoids. Drink plenty of water to soften stools and prevent haemorrhoids.
- Fever: Drink water if you have the fever. Drinking water helps in lowering the fever by removing excess heat from the body through urine.
So, we have understood the importance of adding more water to our daily routine and its benefits. But drinking more water can be a daunting task for many.
Here are some tips to add more water to your diet.
- Our body loses water when we sleep. So, drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
- Sip your water slowly through the day. It may be tough to drink two glasses of water together. But you can sip water through the day to consume your daily recommended requirement of water.
- Don’t wait till you are thirsty. Anticipate the demands of your body and drink before you are thirsty.
- Drinks like tea, coffee and sodas can be dehydrating for the body. Replace them with plain water.
- Drink more water when you exercise. We tend to lose a lot of water through sweat when we exercise. So, we must replenish the water in our body by drinking more when we exercise.
- Drink more water when you are sick. This helps our body to recover from infections.
- If you find plain water boring, add some lemon juice to it for flavour.
- Keep a bottle of water in your car, your desk and on your bedside.
Drinking water is essential for a healthy body. So, go on and sip your way to a more youthful and more energetic body.