A short time ago, I saw a news report on CTV that claims that the “eight by eight” rule (eight 8 oz glasses of water per day) is too much for the average person. According to the report, this recommendation is based on guidelines, set out in the 1940s, that failed to communicate that this daily intake was actually for all fluids, including fruits, juices, and other foods containing liquids.
This report made me start wondering. Is there really such a thing as too much water? What happens if you drink too much? How do you know how much to drink?
This happens when too much water is absorbed by the body’s cells. The cells swell, throwing off the electrolyte balance between the inside and the outside of the cell. The swelling can cause the cell to burst. Other effects of the swelling include irregular heartbeat, excess fluid in the lungs, and seizures. Behaviour similar to alcoholic intoxication and even death may occur.
I remember having to go for an ultrasound once and being told to drink something like 40 oz of water. I was warned to make sure to start drinking at least eight hours before the appointment and to spread it out over as long a period as possible. Of course, I ignored the advice and waited till a couple of hours before to drink the water. Well, by the time I got to the doctor’s office, I was feeling so sick that I actually threw up! I had to reschedule the appointment and the nurse was non-too-impressed with me.
The moral of that story is that it’s not how much you drink, but how fast you drink that could cause a problem.
While it is possible to drink too much water, it is very rare that the body is unable to process the amount taken in. As long as the water consumed is spread out over a reasonable period of time, even in large quantities, a normally functioning set of kidneys will be able to process it without a problem. As a matter of fact, kidneys in good working order can handle as much as fifteen liters per day.
And who would drink fifteen litres per day, let alone MORE than fifteen liters?
How Much Then?
The average daily intake – according to the Mayo Clinic – for a man is 13 cups, or about 3 litres, and 9 cups , or 2.2 litres, for a woman.
Alternatively, there are a few ways to calculate daily water intake. Simply multiply body weight by 0.5, which works out to one ounce per two pounds body weight. Or choose an appropriate multiplier (0.5, 0.6, or 0.7), according to the level of activity.
Here’s an example:
| Body Weight:
0 to 30 minutes per day, 2 to 3 times per week – walking, yoga, stretching
30 to 60 minutes per day, 3 to 5 times per week – brisk walking, low-impact aerobics, light weight-lifting
60 minutes or more, more than 5 times per week – marathons, martial arts, body building
||120 lb * 0.5
||120 lb * 0.6
||120 lb * 0.7
|Amount to Drink:
So what’s the right answer? How much water should we be drinking?
My internet findings confirmed one thing: there is no right answer to this question. Depending on what site you are on, the answer might be different. Are you active? What kind of activity are you doing? How much do you weigh? Are you a man or a woman? Are you pregnant? Are you suffering from an illness or a disease? What altitude do you live at?
The conditions and criteria are varied and numerous.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the best thing to do is to listen to your body. Adjust the intake with the level of physical activity or changes in the weather. Most importantly, drink!
That was actually the conclusion of that news report I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Tips & Tricks
If you are like me, you don’t have a problem drinking water. In my To Do (or Not Do) List for Retention post, I stated that I take in an adequate amount of water per day. I no longer have to make a conscious effort to do so. It just seems to happen on its own.
But for people who have more trouble doing that, there are a few little things you can try:
- keep water handy by carrying it around or keeping it on your desk in a bpa-free bottle (personally, I use a glass bottle)
- improve taste by adding lemon or lime, filtering to eliminate “metal” taste, or diluting fruit juice (1 part juice, 3 parts water)
- avoid or minimize caffeinated drinks, as they can contribute to dehydration
- eat foods with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes
- learn to recognize signs of thirst and drink BEFORE feeling thirsty, because thirst means dehydration has already occurred
What’s Hair Got to Do with It?
When we get the proper daily intake of water that our bodies need, we improve and maintain our hydration level. This, in turn, means that our bodies are better able to metabolize the food we are taking in and to properly absorb the nutrients needed for healthy, long, shiny hair. Water also flushes out the toxins our body doesn’t need, and helps with elasticity.
The healthier the body is from the inside, the healthier it looks from the outside.
I’ll drink to that!
How much do you drink? What do you do to make sure your properly hydrated?