By Ashley Watson
How many ounces of water do you drink per day? If you don’t know the answer to that, you may not be getting enough fluids. Many people think that proper hydration is only a concern for athletes or people who live in dry climates. Water makes up the bulk of our body weight, and water molecules are found in every cell of the human body. Staying hydrated depends on your weight and activity level, but even non-active adults need approximately 75 to 85 ounces of water every day.
According to the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), the average adult male should consume 2.5 liters (85 ounces) of fluid every day, and the average adult female should consume 2.2 liters (74 ounces) of fluid per day for optimal health. Fluids include non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks, soups, and other saturated foods. The body absorbs water in its purest form more readily, but the most important thing to remember is that caffeine and other stimulants can actually cause the body to lose fluids and lead to dehydration.
Why Water is Important
Water helps with almost every metabolic function in the human body. It acts as a solvent for many different nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, glucose and amino acids, which helps the body absorb vital nutrients. Water also helps remove toxins from the body, particularly removing waste from the kidneys. Without proper hydration, the liver must assist the kidneys in removing wastes, which leads to poor metabolism.
Water also helps metabolize fats, as well as helping to maintain a healthy weight. For anyone trying to lose weight by consuming fewer calories, drinking plenty of water can actually cause you to feel full reducing your chances of overeating. As always, it’s important to speak with your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight, but staying hydrated definitely plays an important role in your overall health. In addition to metabolic functions, water also helps regulate body temperature and replaces fluid lost through sweat and frequent urination.
Hydration for Athletes
Depending on the activity, staying hydrated for athletes becomes a challenge during physical activity; however, drinking plenty of water before and after your workout can help prevent dehydration. Even if you are exercising indoors, it’s important to monitor your fluid intake and watch for signs of dehydration. If you are exercising in extreme heat, you may need a combination of water and sports drinks to maintain a healthy amount of fluid in your kidneys.
Keep in mind that many sports drinks are loaded with sugar, which can cause weight gain and dehydration. Look for drinks containing glucose polymers rather than sucrose or fructose. According to a study reported in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, glucose polymers – found in some sports drinks and infant formulas – are more effective at replacing fluids, and they can enhance intestinal calcium absorption.
Effects of Dehydration
You don’t have to sweat a lot to become dehydrated. Caffeinated drinks, decreased fluid intake, and drinking sodas or other drinks that contain sugar can all increase your chances of dehydration. If you are at risk for kidney stones or other urinary tract disorders, then your fluid intake should be heavily monitored. Everyone should pay attention to signs of dehydration and form healthy hydration habits.
Signs of Dehydration
- Feeling faint
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Loss of appetite
- Intolerance to heat
- Dark urine
To help you determine how much water you need and how to stay hydrated, you can find hydration calculators online. Click here to calculate your individual hydration needs.
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