The debate about how much water should a person drink a day continues. Some people insist you must drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day to maintain proper health and nutrition, others say three liters a day is optimal and others say it doesn't matter what beverage you drink as long as you get about two liters of fluids a day. This can leave you wondering: How much water should I drink each day? With so many conflicting opinions, who is right?
The truth is that the jury is still out on this question. The recommendation on how much water you should drink to maintain a healthy lifestyle varies depending on who you talk to. To complicate the matter further, your hydration needs may be more or less than the average person depending on where you live and what kind of lifestyle you adopt. To figure out how this question applies to your lifestyle, consider the following information:
How much water do you lose each day?
If you are an average adult living in a temperate climate, you lose about 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) of water every day through urination and approximately one more liter a day through exhalation, sweat and elimination of solid waste products. This means you lose about 2.5 liters of water a day.
How much water do you take in each day?
The average person takes in about one half of a liter of water through consumption of food each day, leaving your body at a two-liter water deficit. This is where the eight eight-ounce glasses of water recommendation originated since eight eight-ounce glasses equals roughly two liters.
Does your fluid intake have to be water or can it be satisfied through other beverages?
This is where the biggest debate lies. Some physicians claim all beverages count towards fluid replacement. Others say only water is sufficient. The biggest debate centers on caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. While the latest trend is to declare all beverages relatively equal in hydration value, many doctors still believe water or decaffeinated beverages are the most efficient hydrators.
What factors affect your hydration needs?
If you exercise excessively, live in a hot climate, are pregnant or nursing or are ill or taking dehydrating medications, you may need more water than the average person.
Is it possible to drink too much water?
It actually is possible to drink too much water, but most people are not at risk of doing this. Drinking too much water can lower the electrolyte content of your blood, leaving you weakened and with a low sodium level in your bloodstream.
How can you tell if you need more or less water than you currently drink?
The only way to find out is to experiment and see how your body responds to the amount of water you drink. If you are well hydrated, your urine will be either light yellow or colorless, and you will rarely experience feelings of thirst. If you feel thirsty, you are already on your way to dehydration and need to drink more water. Take note of how you feel when you drink more or less water until you find the level of water intake that suits you best.
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