Drinking water is essential to good health, but how much water should we be drinking? There are so many conflicting reports on the topic that it’s hard to decipher an exact amount; there are some common guidelines however that can help. While eight glasses of water per day has been the recommendation in the past, many dieticians are now saying it depends on your body weight and activity level; eight glasses may not be enough for some people.
As a general rule, it is recommended to drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight, especially if you are moderately active. More sedentary individuals should drink at least half an ounce of water per pound of body weight and extremely active individuals should drink at least an ounce and a half per pound. Your body is probably the best gage to determine if you are drinking enough water however; the following signs are a good indication that you need to increase your water intake:
- Feeling Thirsty: This might seem obvious, but oftentimes we don’t realize that we need water until we are dying of thirst, but by then we are already partially dehydrated.
- Headache: When hydration levels in your body drop, a chemical reaction takes place which triggers a headache. As your blood volume continues to drops due to dehydration, less oxygen flows to the brain causing the blood vessels to dilate and your headache will worsen.
- Hunger: Those hunger pangs you think you have, they might not actually be hunger pangs, but your body telling you that you need to drink. Drinking a glass of water or two will often reduce hunger pangs.
- Constipation: The digestive system needs hydration to stay lubricated and if you aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day, the colon will steal it from the intestine which causes you to become constipated.
- Fatigue: When a person experiences that mid-afternoon slump it is often attributed to lack of hydration. As your blood volume drops, oxygen flow decreases and this lack of oxygen causes you to feel sleepy if not downright exhausted.
- Bad Breath: If you are dehydrated, there is a decreased amount of saliva in the mouth which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria; the end result is bad breath.
- Decreased Urination: Urinating fewer than four times a day is another sign that you are not drinking enough. You should also take a minute to look at your urine color as well; it should be a very pale yellow. If it is dark yellow or orange-ish you need to increase your water intake.
- Mental Fog: Even mild dehydration can cause your mental acuity to suffer. If you are feeling mentally sluggish, drink a glass of water and see if it helps you get your focus back.
Our bodies are mostly comprised of water, so it makes sense that it needs water to function properly. Every single organ is affected when we aren’t drinking enough so the first thing you should do when you aren’t feeling well is to reach for a tall glass of water – who knows it just might cure all your ills!