Water is key to life – that’s why we look for it on other planets. Drinking enough water daily conveys a wide range of benefits, and helps to prevent the negative symptoms of dehydration from developing.
But, how much water is enough? What benefits can increasing your water consumption convey?
Dehydration negatively affects every organ in your body, especially as the body is about 60% water. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration can include sleepiness, dry mouth, increased thirst, decreased urination, urine having a darker colour, dizziness, headaches, and lightheadedness.
Symptoms of severe dehydration include irritability and confusion, sunken eyes, dry skin that doesn’t bounce back when you pinch it, rapid heartbeat, and low blood pressure.
Extreme dehydration can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
One thing to note is that a dry mouth and thirst are both signs that you are already slightly dehydrated. Sipping water throughout the day can stop dehydration in its tracks. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can cause decreased performance during exercise, and can reduce cognitive performance as well.
Constipation can be worsened or caused by dehydration. Anecdotally, people report worsened acne and skin quality when dehydrated.
The biggest benefit of drinking plenty of water is that it prevents dehydration and all of the negative side effects that come with it. However, upping your water intake has also shown big benefits in one area, and that is weight loss!
Ensuring that you drink plenty of water might help a dieter in several ways to aid weight loss. First of all, a glass of water contains zero calories; for comparison, a Grande Starbucks latte contains 190 calories, a large glass of red wine contains 214 calories, and a small glass of orange juice contains 112 calories. By cutting calorie-laden drinks out of your diet, it is much easier to lose weight.
Drinking water also appears to play a role in your metabolic rate. One study found that drinking 16 ounces of water temporarily boosted the participants’ metabolisms by around 30%; the researchers concluded that increasing water intake by 1.5 litres (around 6 glasses) per day would increase the number of calories burnt by around 200 calories per day!
Studies also suggest that drinking cold water is the best choice if you want to aid weight loss; your body needs to heat up consumed water. Water also acts as an appetite suppressant; it fills your stomach, especially when you drink a glass or two just before a meal. One study found that people who drank a full glass of water before their meal ate around 75 fewer calories in their meal without even thinking about it. Over time, this adds up and could definitely speed up weight loss efforts; another study found that dieters drinking 500ml of water before each meal lost 44% more weight over 12 weeks than dieters who were just following the diet plan. [Source]
Estimations of exactly how much people need to drink vary, but there are some figures that crop up time and again. The amount recommended by most medical bodies and governmental organisations is around 2 litres per day (67 US fluid ounces), or around 8x 8oz cups of water (often called 8×8), with caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages not counting towards this amount. However, there is actually no significant clinical evidence to support this amount, [Source] and it actually makes very little sense that there is a one-size fits all number for how much water you need to drink per day. Height, weight, physical activity, and body composition all affect the amount of water you need per day. Your body also extracts water from food, especially foods high in water such as fruits, vegetables, soup, and milk. Diuretic drinks such as tea and coffee seem to provide more water than that is lost by increased urination.
Generally, the best advice is to strive to drink water throughout the day, drinking more when you are thirsty. If your urine is a dark colour, this is a sign that you should up your water intake. Realistically, ideal water intake varies from person to person, and only you can determine how much water you really need in a day. If any of the circumstances detailed below apply to you, then you should increase your water intake.
There are some circumstances which increase your H2O needs.
A good rule of thumb is the more you sweat, the more water you need to replace it. Hot summers are a key time to ensure that you are drinking more water, especially if you are outside during the day (especially as dehydration is one of the primary causes of heat exhaustion and heatstroke).
Seniors, babies, and young children are at particular risk of becoming dehydrated, as are breastfeeding mothers, as milk production takes a lot of water.
If you have a very physical job, increasing your water intake is also advisable. The same can be said of physical hobbies, and of course of strenuous exercise.
Experts recommend that for every hour of moderate intensity activity or exercise, you should drink at least an extra 500ml of water, or drink an extra litre of water per hour of high-intensity activity or exercise.
Drinking alcohol is another massive cause of dehydration, and in turn, dehydration is a big factor in how bad your hangover is going to be. We recommend alternating your alcoholic beverage of choice with a glass of water for best results. At the very least, you should drink at least one glass of water before bed after a night drinking alcohol, and take another glass of water with you to bed to drink through the night or in the morning.
Certain medical issues also alter your daily water requirements. If you are on blood pressure medication, it may be a good idea to speak to your doctor about your personal water intake requirements. Some supplements can contain diuretic ingredients that also increase urination, which can dehydrate you quickly if you are not careful.
Diarrhoea and vomiting are not only unpleasant in themselves, but also dehydrate you quickly, leaving you in even worse shape. They can also deplete your electrolyte levels quickly too. If you are suffering from either diarrhoea or vomiting, drink plenty of water. It is easiest to sip on water constantly rather than to drain a glass down quickly. In these circumstances, taking a rehydration supplement that provides electrolyte salts may also be necessary. If you are unable to keep even water down, you should contact a doctor, as medical intervention may be needed; if required, a doctor will arrange for you to have an IV drip, which provides both sterilised water and electrolytes into your system.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.