Hydration Advocation: How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Water

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From Piedmont Healthcare

As warmer weather approaches, our bodily needs fluctuate. While getting more sunshine is an overall plus for both our mental and physical health, the extra heat causes us to sweat more, which, when coupled with the extra physical activity that accompanies the next few months, means we’re all definitely going to need to up our water intake. 

Speaking of water intake, determining the right amount for a healthy adult to drink is a bit more nuanced than the “eight cups a day rule,” even under normal circumstances. For starters, there’s the fact that water is present in a lot of other foods and beverages we consume every day.

“Fruits, sodas, and even coffee, none of which should be your sole source of hydration, also contribute to your water consumption, so it’s important to factor them in when keeping track of how much you’re drinking in the day,” says Matthew Roberts, D.O., who specializes in family medicine.

According, to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an adequate daily fluid intake, taking into account that 16 ounces is equivalent to a typical bottled water, is:

  • About 92 ounces of fluid a day for women 
  • About 124 ounces of fluid a day for men 

*Contact your doctor regarding the recommended amount of daily fluid intake specific to your health status.

Again, this also factors in fluid-intake from other foods and beverages—food is responsible for around 20% of fluid consumption, the rest coming from beverages. And, while you’re going to be craving more cold drinks during the warmer months, you’re also likely going to be eating more fruits as they start coming into season, which will also bump up the amount of water you’re consuming.

It’s also important to remember that there are a lot of factors that cause individual variation. As illustrated above, the recommended daily amount varies based on sex, age, weight, and any underlying health conditions, which will also cause that number to change. Ultimately, the best way to determine whether or not you need to drink more water in that moment is to pay attention to your body. A dry mouth, dizziness, and fatigue are all typical signs of dehydration, but you can also pay attention to urine color: pale yellow being ideal, dark yellow-to-orange signifying dehydration, and clear urine signifying overhydration.

That’s right—you can actually drink too much water. The dangers of overhydration are much less emphasized than dehydration, but water intoxication is very possible, and it’s important that we remember, in the midst of trying to keep ourselves healthy and hydrated, that we don’t overcompensate and plunge ourselves into the other extreme. On average, a healthy adult’s kidneys can process one liter of water per hour (33.81 ounces), so it’s important that you don’t drink more than 2 bottles of water an hour, also taking into account what else has been consumed during that timeframe. This is a common issue for athletes, marathon runners, and anyone engaging in intensive exercise, for which an alternative to excessive fluid consumption is pairing electrolytes with your water intake. Electrolytes speed up the rate at which your body is able to process and thereby start feeling the effects of hydration, decreasing the likelihood of overdoing it on your beverages.

It may require some extra steps on your part to keep up with summer and take care of your body at the same time—on either side of the hydration spectrum—but maintaining a healthy relationship with water will provide the kind of longstanding benefits you don’t want to miss out on.

For additional tips and tricks on staying hydrated, check out Piedmont’s newsroom, or have a conversation with a physician near you (visit piedmont.org to search for locations in your area).

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