Question : How much water does the average person actually need to drink? And is there such a thing as Also a lot?
A: If you don’t sip from a 64 ounce Stanley cup all day, are you still alive? Hydration is having a moment again: TikTok videos with the hashtag #watertok now have over a billion views.
Whether you drink from a trendy tumbler or a regular old glass, there’s no universal answer to how much water you should drink per day. The closest thing to a water intake recommendation in the United States comes from the National Academy of Medicine, which in 2004 reported that healthy men generally stay adequately hydrated when they drink at least three liters (nearly 13 cups) of water per day. and that women are generally hydrated when they drink at least 2.2 liters (a little more than nine cups) per day, not including the water they consume through food.
But these guidelines should not be taken as gospel, experts say.
“Most people, even if they stay below this recommendation, will do very well,” said Dr. Siddharth P. Shah, a nephrologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in hydration and electrolyte balance.
Question : When should I drink water and how much?
A: Water is of course crucial to our survival. It helps us eliminate waste, maintain blood pressure, regulate body temperature and much more.
Some people need more water than others. Particularly active people — who have physically demanding jobs or exercise a lot — lose more water through sweat and will need to compensate by drinking more water, said emergency medicine specialist Dr. George Chiampas. at Northwestern Medicine and chief medical officer. for the American Football Federation.
People may also need to drink more if they live in hot climates, have a larger body or a lot of muscle mass, have loose stools, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have had kidney stones or recurrent infections of the urinary tract, according to experts.
Over the course of life, a person’s water needs also change. Typically, as people age, they lose muscle and gain fat, Shah said. Because fat contains less water than muscle, people generally need to consume less water as they age to maintain healthy tissues.
Yet some older people still don’t consume as much water as they need, Shah said, because older people’s bodies — especially research suggests those over 60 — are not as efficient to detect thirst. The level of dehydration “that would make you thirsty at 40 might not make you as thirsty at 80,” he said.
If you’re thirsty, you’re probably dehydrated and should drink water, said Dr. Alysia Robichau, a family and sports medicine physician at Houston Methodist.
There may also be more subtle signs of dehydration, like constantly feeling cold or dry skin, Robichau said. People with acute or chronic dehydration may also experience headaches or dry eyes, she added.
Because people deprive themselves of water while they sleep, “most people wake up and are already dehydrated,” Chiampas said. It’s usually a good idea, he says, to start the day with a drink.
It’s perfectly fine to add flavorings to your water or drink sparkling water, Robichau said — but she cautioned that coffee and other caffeinated drinks might not be as hydrating as drinks caffeine free. Drinking a caffeinated beverage, especially if you don’t drink it regularly, can reduce the kidneys’ ability to absorb water, leading to additional water loss through urine. Alcoholic beverages are also dehydrating.
Keep in mind that you can also get water through food. Some fruits and vegetables, like watermelon and celery, are mostly water, Shah said. The National Academy of Medicine estimates that people get an average of 20 percent of their water through food.
It’s unlikely that most people drink too much water, but it is possible, especially among endurance athletes who drink a lot of water quickly, Chiampas said. This can disrupt the balance of sodium and potassium in the body and lead to potentially fatal water poisoning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises drinking no more than 48 ounces of water per hour. Also keep in mind that there are probably no health benefits to consuming tons of water.
“People carry a lot of excessively large water bottles these days,” Shah said. “But the overwhelming majority of people don’t need to drink too much water.”
Wenner Moyer is a freelance writer. This article appeared in the New York Times.
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