How Much Water Should We Drink to Stay Healthy?
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Optimal Water Intake Calculator – How Much Water Should We Drink to Stay Healthy?

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The health benefits of drinking enough water each day are numerous and profound. Water levels impact body cells, tissues and organs, and insufficient water levels create a host of physical and mental issues. Maintaining adequate hydration allows every system in the body to continue functioning properly and optimizes the body’s ability to stay healthy. Despite adequate water intake playing a crucial role in maintaining health, understanding adequate water intake levels is often overlooked when evaluating personal health and fitness. So how much water does someone need to drink each day to stay healthy? Is there a standard answer, or is it ideal to take a more individualized approach? In this article, we discuss the benefits of staying hydrated, the negative impacts of dehydration, the suggested daily water intake to stay hydrated, and habits to adopt to drink more water.

Around 50% to 70% of our body weight is comprised of water, and maintaining appropriate hydration provides numerous health benefits. Many of the well-known benefits of hydration include regulating body temperature, protecting joints and the spine, flushing out toxins, aiding in digestion, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, and stabilizing the heartbeat. Additional benefits are only beginning to be understood. In 2019, a study completed on healthy young adults in Spain concluded that higher fluid intake is related to healthier body composition and that improving daily water intake levels could be a useful tool for understanding and reducing overweight and obesity population trends.

The importance of incorporating adequate water intake to conserve and protect cognitive function and mental health is also becoming more apparent with recent studies. In one study, scientists examined the total water intake and correlated mood in 120 healthy young women and discovered that water intake appeared to correlate with positive or negative moods. Habitual low water intake corresponded with negative moods, demonstrating that water intake not only affects body functions but also impacts mental health. Another study with healthy young women found that mild dehydration impaired cognitive function and caused deficits in visual and working memory. These impairments and deficits were reversed by drinking 2.5 liters of water a day (the European Food Safety Authority and Institute of Medicine requirements for adult women). Additional negative impacts from too little water include confusion, fatigue, constipation, kidney stones, and shock. If dehydration becomes severe then hospital treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids may be needed to help bring hydration back to adequate levels.

To capture all the benefits of hydration and avoid the negative impacts of drinking too little water, it is advised to follow a standard water intake suggestion, with the knowledge that water intake needs may increase or decrease based on daily activities and situations. A 2005 study published in Nutrition Reviews concluded that a daily water intake of 3.7 liters for adult men and 2.7 liters for adult women will meet the needs of most people. These suggested intake amounts do not account for strenuous physical exercise, heat stress, pregnancy, and overall health variations between people, but do serve as a good starting baseline for understanding appropriate daily water intake. Another method to control and maintain water intake is to be mindful of thirst and drink water whenever thirsty while keeping in mind the suggested daily water intakes listed above. Particularly in athletes water needs vary dramatically, and these high variations must be taken into consideration when looking to evaluate hydration needs.

Additional considerations to keep in mind regarding healthy water intake include diet, which is where around 20% of daily fluid intake comes from. Diet choices impact hydration, and many fruits and vegetables contribute to meeting daily hydration needs. Some of the fruits and vegetables with the highest water content include cucumbers which are made up of 96% water, tomatoes which are made up of 95% water, and spinach which is made up of 93% water. Other beverages also contribute to hydration, particularly milk, juice, and herbal teas.

For healthy adults, there is little risk of drinking too much water. The primary risk that arises is when endurance athletes drink too much water without replenishing electrolytes, which can lead to a dangerous and possibly life-threatening condition called hyponatremia. This can be addressed by drinking sports drinks or using electrolyte powders to avoid decreased sodium levels.

There are a variety of ways to become more mindful and purposeful about daily water intake. Bring a favorite water bottle to the office, gym, road trips, and wherever allowed. This not only encourages increased daily water intake but also reduces the use of plastics. Order water when eating out to save cash and increase daily water intake. Finally, download an app to keep track of water intake. There are a variety of mobile apps available, and some of the more popular water tracking apps are Water Reminder-Daily Tracker, Water Tracker Waterllama, and the Drink Water: Drinking Reminder App. Apps are a great way to track and measure water intake to better ensure your hydration needs are being met. 

To help better assess individualized water intake needs and provide additional insight, a water intake calculator is provided below. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to suggested daily water intake levels. Approach hydration by starting with the standard suggested water intake of 3.7 liters for adult men and 2.7 liters for adult women, and adjust accordingly based upon your individualized needs and the water intake calculator suggestions. To ensure you’re drinking the healthiest water possible utilize a water filter in your home. Maintaining adequate daily water intake ensures you receive all the health benefits associated with hydration while avoiding the negative impacts of dehydration and is a crucial component of personal health and wellbeing.

Water Intake Calculator

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