May 16, 2013
You know how important it is to stay hydrated — after all, your body is 60 percent water, right? From aiding digestion to flushing out toxins, water is essential to your health.
But how much water does your body really need? You’ve probably heard of the “8x8” rule — that you should drink eight ounces (one glass) of water eight times a day. Sound like a lot? Don’t sweat it. According to a study published by the American Physiological Society, no scientific evidence exists supporting this long-touted rule — in fact, no one seems to know exactly how that 8x8 rule became so widely accepted. According to Mayo Clinic, the only reason this rule has become mainstream is because it’s so easy to remember.
Turns out, there are no hard-and-fast rules to live by when it comes to staying hydrated. In reality, your daily fluid needs are affected by many factors, including your health, your activity level and the climate you live in. However, there are some general guidelines. The Institute of Medicine determined that men should consume a total of about 13 cups worth of liquid from both food and drink; women should aim for about nine cups total.
But you don’t need to start downing glass after glass of water. Your total water intake includes water from other beverages as well as water from your food. However, that’s not an excuse to ditch your water bottle in favor of juice, soda or coffee — water helps provide your body with essential minerals, and is free of caffeine, calories and added sugars, all of which can be harmful in excess.
If you’re wondering whether or not you’re drinking enough water, the most accurate way to measure hydration is pay attention to the color of the urine you produce. According to Mayo Clinic, you’re aiming for urine that is a light shade of yellow. If you’d rather not keep track of every trip you take to the bathroom, try to avoid feeling parched by sipping fluid regularly and making sure to drink a beverage both with and in between each meal. Keep in mind that if you engage in rigorous exercise, live in a hot or humid climate or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may need to drink even more water. But be careful not to overdo it — drinking too much water can interfere with your kidney function and can have serious health consequences.
MedHelpers, tell us about your hydration habits! What's the first thing you reach for when you're thirsty? Do you follow the 8x8 rule?