It’s a question you’ve probably asked or wondered about. How much water do you need a day? You may have heard that it’s eight glasses. But where does that idea come from? Is it even accurate? And is there a danger to having such a rule?
Where does the minimum water intake recommendation come from?
The idea of a minimum requirement for how much water we must consume was first introduced in the 1940s. The National Academy of Science published their recommendation of 2.5 liters of water a day. An arbitrary amount that had no grounds. That recommendation has since evolved to the standard of eight glasses.
However, more and more research is suggesting that there isn’t really a concrete amount of water we all need on a daily basis. When you think about it logically, it makes sense.
Why the eight glasses of water recommendation is not always the answer.
There are so many factors that affect how much water a person needs. Plus, it may not always be the same for each day. It truly depends on the individual and their surroundings. Specific situations where the ideal water intake may vary include:
- Height and weight: Obviously, a small child or someone who’s very petite in height doesn’t necessarily require the same amount of fluids as a larger and taller grown adult.
- Environmental conditions: A person living in a hot and humid environment or somewhere undergoing a heatwave would definitely need to drink more water.
- Activity level: If you’re generally active and/or engage in intense physical activity, drink up.
- Health situation: Certain health conditions like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever require you to drink more water. For example, diarrhea is a well-known water thief that can lead to dehydration if the water a person loses isn’t adequately replenished.
- Food consumption: Certain foods have high water content. For example, consuming a lot of watermelon and cantaloup means you’re already consuming a lot of fluids outside of what you drink in a glass.
Why is having a minimum water intake recommendation dangerous?
The whole idea of there being a minimum water intake recommendation is to make sure we get enough fluids in our system. Indeed, there are a lot of health benefits to water, none of which is being discredited here. However, the idea of a minimum amount is invalid. There shouldn’t be one because there is no one size fits all. On a related note, there shouldn’t be a minimum because that can actually be dangerous. The danger lies in people thinking the minimum is all they need when it may not be enough. Variables such as their physique, environment, physical exertion, or health situation also affect how much water a person needs.
So if a minimum water intake isn’t always the answer, what should YOU do?
The fact that there isn’t really a minimum amount of water that applies to everyone–plus the fact that our water needs can vary even day to day–can be unsettling for those of us who like checking off the “I drank eight glasses of water today” box.
However, when we’re not sick with a water robbing illness, most of us just need to drink whenever we’re thirsty to stay properly hydrated. Our bodies are designed to tell us to drink long before dehydration hits. So, if you’re not feeling thirsty, you’re probably getting enough water. But, if managing your portions or weight is something you’re trying to do, one reason to drinking even more water is that it can help trick your brain into feeling full as well as increase your metabolism. Another reason is that it can help with flushing out toxins from your body.
The key takeaway message in all this is to understanding your body’s individual needs and understanding how those needs could vary from one day to the next.
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