Water, Water, Water…
We have been told throughout our lives to drink enough water, but do we know how much is enough? Do we know how much is too much?
It is common knowledge that water is important for us, but do we know what roles does water have in improving our health?
Benefits of water
Reduces fatigue and improves Brain function
Studies have shown the impact that dehydration and adequate hydration has on our body. Dehydration has shown to be associated with more frequent headaches, lower mood, general fatigue and impairment in concentration. However, on the other hand, drinking an adequate amount of water is shown to improve mood and reduce fatigue.
Assist with weight loss
On average the more water you consume, the fewer calories you consume throughout the day. A 2016 study has found that drinking an extra 8-24 oz. of water per day leads to consuming 68-205 calories less than the daily caloric intake which can lead to half a pound of weight loss per week. Drinking above the recommended daily water intake can also decrease appetite. Drinking water 30 minutes before a meal tends to result in fewer calories being consumed. A 12-week study has shown that individuals who drank 400-500 ml of water before their meals, lost on average 44% more weight compared to those who didn’t.
Studies have shown that there can be a temporary 30 % increase in metabolism with consuming 16 oz. of water.
Supports effective workouts
During a workout, you lose water through sweat. When dehydrated, the body cannot perform at its peak; this is why it’s important to keep hydrated. Water is utilized in many bodily functions especially in muscular functions
Water clears the body of waste through sweat, bowel movements, and urination. Water places a big role in maintaining the body’s temperature as well as lubricating the joints.
Other important facts are that water relieves constipation, decreases the risk of kidney stones as well as bladder and colorectal cancer.
How much to drink?
As humans, we both overcomplicate and under-appreciate the simplest things, one being water consumption.
We don’t drink enough, yet on the other hand, there is a debate on how much is enough. Do you think our ancestors stopped and thought “have I reached my hourly water intake?” “Did I calculate the correct amount using my weight?”
Obviously, both science and technology have advanced throughout the centuries, which allows us to narrow down the correct amount of water we need. We can calculate the correct amount of water intake through several methods, the main one is using the vast amount of calculations that can be found on the internet and another one is looking at recommended daily intake from several health associations.
One recommendation is by adding 12oz of water per 30 minutes of exercise and adding it to the result of multiplying your weight by 0.5.
(Weight in pounds x 0.5) + (exercise time/30 x 12) = Oz of water needed
However, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration, such as physical activity, age, BMI, gender and temperature of the environment.
Factors that affect water intake:
Weight – a larger weight tends to mean a larger surface area of the body. This would require more water for the body, compared to an individual with a smaller weight/surface area
Activity levels – during exercise, we lose a lot of water through sweat as well as assisting the muscles. The more physical activity we do, the more water is needed.
Environment – hot and humid environments can lead to an increase in sweat. Also in colder weather water is utilized in maintaining the body’s temperature.
Overall health – if during a fever, flu, food poisoning we are vomiting, having diarrhea or have a high fever we would need to replenish the lost fluids.
With all these factors taken into consideration, it’s quite difficult for the ordinary person to calculate the correct amount of water intake for themselves. So, in my opinion, it is best to choose a certified and approved recommended water intake and start from there, and see how you feel. A good way to see if you are well hydrated is if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or slightly yellow. If not increase your water intake slightly. Remember drinking water isn’t the only way to increase our water intake; most foods we consume contain a large amount of water, such as meat, fish and watery fruits and vegetables.
Best times to get your water intakes are
- Before a meal
- Before, during and after a workout
- Feeling hungry, as thirst can be confused with hunger.
- In hot environments
- When Thirsty
The last point I just mentioned is the most vital point, due to evolutions, we humans as a species have a sophisticated mechanism in our body, that controls the amount of water in our body, and when the amount is below than normal, we experience “thirst”. Other symptoms that can indicate dehydration is general fatigue, nausea, and decreased moods.
What happens if we take too much water?
It’s very uncommon, however, it is possible to drink more water than the body can handle.
Over hydration can lead to dilution of sodium in the blood, sodium is essential in balancing fluids inside and outside the cells when sodium levels drop it causes the cells to swell, which can disturb the functions of several systems and organs such as the brain. However, this tends to occur when consuming an excessive amount in a short period, for example, 1.5 gallons in 2 hours
In conclusion, we should not worry too much about the correct amount, as the thirst mechanism is one of the best ways to really calculate how much water we need day to day, without having to take out a calculator. That mechanism itself has surely allowed us humans as a species to survive for this long, so it’s best not to doubt it. As long as we are drinking enough water, we should be