Note: This is the second of a 3-part series that explains, in practical terms, how beneficial water is to the human body. If you haven't read Part 1, you can view it here.
Water, a nutrient vital to all life, doesn’t get the same media attention as do prescription medications, injections and surgeries when it comes to preventing and curing disease. Therefore, don’t expect your MD to enlighten you on the healing benefits of water next time you go for a visit. But feel free to share this information with friends and family.
How much water is ENOUGH?
It depends. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years. No single answer is right for everyone, but knowing about a human body’s needs for fluids will help you answer the question for YOU.
Your own water requirements depend on different factors.
Your own water requirements actually depend on different factors such as:
How HEALTHY you are,
How ACTIVE you are,
WHERE you live,
The amount of STRESS in your life,
Even if you’re PREGNANT or breast-feeding.
What you LOSE must be replaced
Simply stated, our needs are equivalent to the amount of liquid that is eliminated each day by our bodies. You have to replace your loss with a new intake of liquid each day so the body does not experience a deficiency in its water balance.
How MUCH water do we lose?
We are constantly losing water from our bodies to the tune of around 2.5 liters per day, primarily from urine and sweat.
Obviously, there are factors that influence how much any one person loses (activity, lifestyle, stress, etc.) but you can see how this number was calculated by reading an interesting book, “The Water Prescription” by Dr. Christopher Vasey.
So on average, 2.5 liters is what the body must ingest to meet its needs.
But, no, that doesn’t mean you have to drink 2.5 liters of water (about 84 ounces) because your body also receives liquid from the water contained in foods eaten.
FOOD is water - or is it?
If you are consuming a lot of vegetables and fruits, these foods contain a very high percentage of water which your body ingests. Of course, the way food is prepared for eating plays a role in their water content. (A steamed potato is about 76% water, but once turned into chips or fries, they contain only 3%).
If your diet is made up of dry and concentrated foods (breads, cereal, floury foods) or foods that are high in fat (meat, cold cuts, sauces, sweets, butter), then your body has to produce a greater quantity of digestive fluids to make these foods soluble and digestible. Not to mention that these foods can generate numerous toxins, which forces the body to surrender more liquid in order to transport waste products to be excreted.
Our daily need for salt is around 3 to 5 grams, but most people are consuming up to 12 to 15 grams. This requires larger quantities of liquid to dilute and eliminate the excess salt.
The more food we eat, the greater the body's need for liquid.
Another interesting tidbit... the more food we eat, the greater the body’s need for liquid. Beyond the question of the quality of the food, getting too much of it is in itself a factor in our increased water needs. Studies say we need about 2,100 calories a day, so eating above that amount is a factor in how much water to drink.
In a nutshell, the more food you eat that contain a high water content, the less water you need to drink. For those who eat primarily unhealthy foods, the more water they need to drink.
What about coffee, tea and cola drinks, don’t they provide water, too? Yes, but, they also contain caffeine, which can make you lose more water when you pee.
Note: In the upcoming part 3 of this series, we will cover what types of liquid are good and bad for hydrating. Spoiler alert: Plain water is at the top of the list.
Back to the question: How MUCH water should we drink?
Now you see why “it depends”. Lifestyle and diet have everything to do with it.
Looking at different studies, you will get different answers, but the most common advice we hear is: 8 glasses of water a day. And, assuming you are healthy, that may be plenty.
We found a variety of recommendations for daily water intake:
3.7 liters (men); 2.7 liters (women)
3 liters (men); 2.2 liters (women)
Dr. Christopher Vasey, in his book “The Water Prescription” uses a sensible method for calculating how much each person needs. Once you understand the "ins and outs" of water (literally), it becomes common sense when determining your personal need for drinking water.
“The 2-liter figure is only an estimate of the average human being’s need for water. Daily water consumption will necessarily be higher or lower depending on the individuals, their occupations, and their lifestyles.”
- Dr. Christopher Vasey, N.D.
We already mentioned diet as a factor. But there is also a person’s weight to consider. And what toxins are they putting into their body? Smoking, vaping, large amounts of coffee, alcohol, medication, drugs, even food preservatives all need to be taken into account. And add to that air quality. If toxins are going into your body, drinking water helps flush them out.
Also, there are situations that trigger more intense periods of sweating and these cause the body to lose more water than normal:
Walking or performing other activities under the sun, particularly in summer
Very hot, dry weather
Traveling to tropical countries
Working in overheated rooms (near a stove, oven for example)
Overheated apartments or offices
Stress, in general
Are you going to the gym? It is recommended that athletes drink half a liter to a full liter of water for every hour of exercise
Do you use a sauna? During a sauna, the body perspires more than a liter of sweat in a session (400 grams for one session of 10 minutes)
Are you into endurance sports? When the body exerts extra effort for only a brief length of time, it is advisable to drink beforehand. When the body has to perform for a long time, as in endurance sports (bike racing, long-distance running), one should drink during and after the event.
Are you stressed? Stress triggers an overall acceleration in metabolism, which makes the body produce a greater amount of sweat over the course of a day. Larger quantities of water are needed, especially because the toxins created by stress require an additional intake of liquid to be eliminated.
What's right is what's right for YOU
Most people are not drinking enough water. If that’s you, we recommend you start now by just drinking more.
How much more? Start with 2 liters of water daily. That’s around 64 ounces. That’s the equivalent of two 32-ounce re-useable Hydro Flask bottles.
If you are an overweight adult, then drink more than that. Divide your body weight in half, and drink that many ounces of water daily. Example: If you weigh 180 pounds, drink 90 ounces of water (2.7 liters).
The important thing is to start drinking more water.
Try drinking an 8-ounce glass when you first wake up. That will give you a good start to the day.
Do it for 2 weeks and see how it makes you feel. If your body is dehydrated (as many are), and you do this for 2 weeks straight, you will notice a huge improvement in your health and vitality. And even better, no doctor's fee!
And remember… drinking sufficient quantities of water plays a major role in the prevention and treatment of many ailments (chronic fatigue, depression, eczema, rheumatism, gastric disorders, high or low blood pressure, obesity, to name a few).