(WellnessPursuits.com) – Most of us have had it drilled into our heads so intensely that we’ve accepted it as the undisputed truth: You need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay healthy. But how accurate is that figure, really? We’ve tracked down the actual numbers, and they might surprise you.
How We Use Water
Water is vital for even the body’s most basic functions. We need it to keep our cells and organs protected, the body flushed of pathogens and toxins, the body’s temperature regulated and the digestive system moving. This generally requires 4 to 6 cups of water a day.
When we take in less water than we need, our bodies can suffer. The first signs of dehydration often include extreme thirst, dark urine, fatigue and dizziness. Left to worsen, this can lead to kidney stones and other urinary tract issues, low blood volume, seizures and even heat stroke.
Our Needs Vary
How much water you need depends on multiple factors, including how active you are, the climate you live in and how much water you’re getting from the rest of your diet. For example, if you eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you may be getting a decent amount of water from your food. And contrary to popular belief, coffee, tea, beer, milk and most other beverages, — caffeinated, alcoholic or not — also contribute toward your daily amount.
There still may be advantages to drinking closer to 8 cups a day. Higher water intake may help you lose weight, reduce constipation risks and even lower your chances of developing hypertension. Just be aware that even 8 cups might be too much for some people.
There are other factors to keep in mind, such as your health history. If you have certain health conditions or take medications that can cause fluid retention or loss, it’s best to talk to your doctor to make sure your water intake fits your specific needs.
Too Much Water
Too much water consumption can be just as dangerous as not enough. Your body can’t process more than 3 or 4 cups of water in an hour, so more than that will overload it. Excessive water intake causes your sodium levels to drop, and it can lead to excessive fluid in your organs, as well as neurological dysfunction. In extreme cases, this can lead to coma and death.
You might not need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, but you do want to ensure you’re getting the right amount for you. A good rule of thumb is to sip water and other drinks throughout the day, not waiting until you’re thirsty to take in what you need. If your urine is dark or you don’t urinate much, increase your water intake until you’re peeing closer to clear.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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