What you should know about drinking water (but probably don't)

Updated: Mar 14


Everything you need to know about the most essential part of your daily diet.

May 31, 2017, 9:09 AM NZST / Updated May 31, 2017, 9:08 AM NZST / Source: NBC News

By Brianna Steinhilber

As a kid, your parents are always telling you to drink more of it. In your 20s you down one between cocktails to stave off a hangover. As you get older you notice dry skin, under-eye circles and headaches creeping up when you don’t get enough of it. Gym rats carry around huge jugs of it, models swear by it as an essential piece of their beauty routine and a lack of it may just be the reason behind your daily afternoon slump..

We’re talking water — arguably the most essential component of our diets. (After all, we can’t survive more than a few days without it.)

As much as we glorify the beverage (rightly so) many of us aren’t getting enough: More than half of children and teenagers in the United States are not properly hydrated, according to a nationwide study from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The problem doesn’t stop when we enter adulthood: The Natural Hydration Council found that one in 10 consultations for tiredness and fatigue could be attributed to dehydration, and more than a third of the patients reported feeling better after drinking more water. The problem is, among the 300 general practitioners surveyed, just 4 percent believed their patients were aware of how to hydrate properly.

It may seem like a no-brainer — just drink more water. But do you know exactly how much you should be drinking?.

How Much Water Do You Need to Drink, Anyway?

We all know the eight-glasses-a-day rule, but is it something we should hang our hat on? While the goal certainly isn’t a bad one to aim for, the actual equation is more complicated.

“It is somewhat arbitrary as it doesn't take into account the size, activity, environment or diet of the individual,” says Dr. Barry Sears, leading authority on the dietary control of hormonal response and author of The Zone Diet.


So where did this guideline come from?

Dozens of factors can affect a person’s individual water needs, from exercising to sickness to the temperature outside.

“While no one knows for sure where the ‘8 x 8’ (which is eight, 8-ounce glasses of water) rule came from, it may have been adapted from the 1945 Food & Nutrition Board recommendation to drink about 2.5 liters of water each day,” explains Rima Kleiner, MS, RD and blogger at Dish on Fish. “The nice thing about the 8 x 8 water rule (which is about 1.9 L/day) is that it’s easy to remember, and it’s not too far off from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) general water recommendations of 13 cups (or 3 L) of water per day for men and 9 cups (or 2.2 L) of water per day for women.”


That being said, there are dozens of factors that can affect each person’s individual water needs, from exercising to sickness.

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