How much water should I drink?
On average, the human body is 60% water. Without water, within a week, you’ll suffer organ failure and die. As you can see, drinking enough water is essential to not only health but to survival.
You’ve probably seen doctors, athletes, and celebrity influencers urging their followers to stay hydrated. In fact, some even urge their followers to get a reusable water bottle like the stainless steel ones at waterbottle.io or the ones here. The push to stay hydrated is well-intentioned, but is it really necessary?
The Benefits of Staying Hydrated
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The benefits of drinking enough water are endless, spanning the gamut from beautiful skin, weight loss, improved energy, and athletic performance to better memory. It can also ease aching joints and muscles, deliver vital nutrients to the cells, helps to flush waste from the body, and promotes cardiovascular health.
The Causes of Dehydration
The opposite of hydration is dehydration; without an adequate amount of clean, fresh, water, your body will begin to malfunction and break down. Some of the symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, dark-colored urine, confusion, dizziness, fainting, and ultimately death.
Of course, not drinking enough water is one way to get dehydrated. But other causes of dehydration include severe vomiting and/or diarrhea, fever, excessive sweating, and excessive urination.
Some Experts are Critical of the Cry to “Stay Hydrated”
While staying hydrated is definitely important, experts emphasize that simply drinking more water will not make people healthier. They also balk at the idea that most people are dehydrated or that people should be sipping water throughout the day.
From a medical point of view, maintaining the body’s balance between electrolytes and water is the most important thing; in fact, drinking too much water can deplete the body of electrolytes.
While we’ve all been taught that we should drink eight glasses of water every day, that’s not necessarily true.
Things like body size, the temperature, and how hard a person is exerting themselves will influence the amount of water they’ll need. For example, an NFL quarterback on the field in Florida will need to drink more water than a person spending their day in an air-conditioned room, at their computer.
The amount of water a person needs also depends on their health. For example, a person sick with diarrhea, or someone with kidney stones will likely need more water than usual.
Experts also disagree that dark urine always indicates dehydration. It is one possible indicator, but medication, food, and beverages can also influence urine color.
For most healthy people, simply drinking water when they’re thirsty is the best way to stay hydrated.
Is Water the Only Way to Stay Hydrated?
When it comes to keeping hydrated, any beverage can help to hydrate your body. But, water is the best choice. While other drinks, like sodas, can quench your thirst, they contain way too much sugar and artificial ingredients to be considered healthy.
Another hydration myth that has been busted is that caffeine and alcohol czn dehydrate th body. However, a randomized study conducted in 2016 concluded that the hydration benefits of water, coffee, tea, and beer were almost identical.
Another way to stay hydrated is with the food you eat. Watermelon and soup are good examples. In fact, some animals never need to drink water. For example, the desert kangaroo rat never has to drink water, since it gets all that it needs from what it eats.
What About Electrolyte Sports Drinks?
Some sports figures will have you believing that you need to constantly replenish your electrolytes by drinking the sports drinks they represent. However, for most healthy people that’s simply not true.
Electrolytes are vital minerals that help regulate the fluids in the body. The three major electrolytes are potassium, magnesium, and sodium (ordinary salt).
Electrolytes play an important role in proper muscle function, regulating blood pressure, and generally, keep your body functioning properly.
Unless you are actually suffering from dehydration, you probably don’t need electrolytes. However, if you are sick with diarrhea or vomiting, a sports drink might help.
The fact is, neon-colored sports drinks contain excessive amounts of sugar, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, and other artificial ingredients. None of that is good for you.
While sports drinks enhanced with electrolytes might be beneficial if you are sick, on a day-to-day basis, it’s a waste of money that could actually be bad for your health.
For the average person, drinking a reasonable amount of fresh, clean water when they’re thirsty is enough to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is mostly common sense, not advertising gimmicks.