Reasons to Drink More Water

Adequate water intake is critical to physiological and bodily functions, yet 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. In this article we discuss the benefits of drinking enough water. 

By Lynell Ross, Certified Health and Wellness Coach

Water is essential to good health, yet needs vary by individual. Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live. Although no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body's need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day. Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.  Here are some lesser known facts about water consumption:

  • Most of us are chronically dehydrated

  • Even mild dehydration will slow down your metabolism 

  • Lack of water is the number one cause of fatigue

  • Adequate water will ease joint pain 

  • Drinking water can boost memory and clear up fuzzy thinking 

  • Drinking water will help with weight loss and prevent hunger 

How Much Water Do You Need?

In general, doctors recommend that a healthy adult living in a temperate climate drink 8 or 9 glasses of water per day on average. Here is a simple rule: 


  • Eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. One approach to water intake is the "8 x 8 rule" — drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. 

  • Dietary recommendations. The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 13 cups of total beverages a day and women consume about 9 cups of total beverages a day. 

  • Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for that fluid loss. Drink 12 ounces of water two hours before a workout, and another 12 ounces 30 minutes before you begin. While you are exercising, you should drink 4 to 8 ounces every 15 minutes. Consume an additional 12 ounces within 30 minutes of your workout.  

  • Environment. In hot or humid weather, you need to drink additional water to help lower your body temperature and to replace what you lose through sweating. You also need additional water in cold weather if you sweat while wearing insulated clothing. Heated indoor air can cause your skin to lose moisture, increasing your daily fluid requirement. Additionally, altitudes higher than 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) can affect how much water your body needs by triggering increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves. 

Water supports a number of physiological functions. Here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Transports nutrients 

  • Carries away waste, aids in better digestion 

  • Moistens eyes, mouth, nose

  • Hydrates Skin and lessens wrinkles 

  • Ensures adequate blood volume, helps prevent heart attacks 

  • Forms main component of body fluids

  • Participates in many chemical reactions

  • Helps maintain normal body temperature

  • Acts as a lubricant around joints 

  • Serves as a shock absorber inside the spinal cord

Factors That Influence Water Needs

You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you're pregnant or breast-feeding. If you exercise or are active and sweat, you need to drink extra water- about 1-2 cups per hour, exactly how much depends on how much you sweat. You will benefit from drinking a sports drink for longer periods of exercise as this will help replace sodium lost. Dehydration can be life threatening. 

Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Illnesses or health conditions such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea causes your body loses additional fluids. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. 

Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups of fluids a day.

Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. 

Set Yourself Up for Success

Help keep track of your water intake. Write down the number of glasses of water or beverages in a food journal or keep a large container with your daily water. Pour from that container to measure your water daily. Drink a glass of water with each meal and in between meals with a snack. 

Don’t wait until you are thirsty. It's generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you become thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. Even mild dehydration may slow down your metabolism.  As you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst. Take your water bottle with you to exercise; drink before during and after.  


Don’t mistake thirst for hunger. One glass of water will shut down hunger pangs. A common mistake is thinking we are hungry when we are really thirsty. 

Reach for water when you are tired. Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. 


Remember water to ease stiffness. Research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers. 

Help cut calories. Drink sparking water with juice in place of alcohol or in between drinks. 

Focus on water to help your memory. A drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page. 

The Balance Between Water and Minerals 

Do you often feel bloated, puffy or swollen? There is a delicate balance in our bodies that we need to pay attention to. To aid proper digestion to dispel waste products and maintain our fluid balance focus we need to eat a balanced diet from all the food groups, drink enough water and cut back on the amount of processed, packaged and canned foods we eat.   

Water assists with the transport of nutrients and waste products throughout the body, participates in chemical reactions, acts as a solvent, serves as a shock absorber, and regulated body temperature.  To maintain water balance, intake from liquids, foods and metabolism must equal losses from the kidneys, skin, lungs and GI tract. Fluid and electrolyte balance in the body is crucial to kidney and brain function.  


The major minerals in the body include: 

  • Sodium – critical to the maintenance of fluid balance, nerve impulse and muscle contractions. 

    • We do need sodium to be in balance with the other minerals however, most people eat more salt than they need. You can lower your blood pressure by avoiding highly salted foods, by monitoring the amount you cook with and by not adding salt to your food at the table. 

  • Chloride – Maintains fluid & electrolyte balance, part of stomach acid 

    • Needed for proper digestion. Salt is our source of Chloride. 

  • Potassium – Maintains fluid balance, supports cells, assists in nerve transmissions, and muscle contractions. 

    • Foods high in Potassium: Bananas, meats, milk, fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. 

  • Calcium – Adequate intake helps grow a healthy skeleton and minimizes bone loss later in life. Calcium may play a role in maintaining a healthy body weight by helping to break down stored fat. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption. 

    • Foods high in Calcium:  Milk and milk products, small fish with bones, tofu, greens, broccoli, chard, legumes, soybeans, and peas. 

  • Phosphorus – functions in the body are mineralization of bones and teeth, used in energy transfer.  

    • Foods high in Phosphorus: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy, 

  • Magnesium – Functions include bone mineralization, building or protein, muscle contraction, nerve impulse, teeth and function of immune system. 

    • Foods high in Magnesium: carrots, bananas, milk, yogurt, pinto beans, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, tofu, ground beef, chicken breast, halibut, cashews, and artichokes.  Other sources:  nuts, legumes, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, and seafood, chocolate, cocoa.


Filtering Drinking Water

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, millions of us become ill each year from microorganisms lurking in our tap water. Older adults, young children and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable.  While drinking water in the United States is among the best in the world, outbreaks of disease from drinking water do occur. 

The recommendation is to use a water filter, and there are many to choose from. A filter can be as simple as a pitcher that you fill from the tap or the type that has to be installed by a plumber.

For basic protection, get an activated carbon filter that’s certified to reduce lead cysts, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Filtering VOCs should protect you from disinfection byproducts, atrazine and other pesticides and contaminants. The filter should also be certified to eliminate the taste and smell of chlorine. 

To filter out bacteria and viruses get a system that has been certified for microbiological purification by the Water Quality Association (WQA), NSF International, or Underwriters Laboratories (UL). It could consist of an ultraviolet light to disinfect the water or filter with pores so fine that microorganisms can’t get through them. 

Before you buy any filter, check the website of the California Department of Public Health for Residential Water Treatment Devices

For basic information on the water supply and the effectiveness of different kinds of filters, see the EPA’s booklet “Water on Tap”

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