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Staying hydrated: How much water do you actually need?

Okay, we’re about to drop a (water) bomb. Are you ready for it? You don’t need to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Even more shocking, your morning coffee actually does count towards your...

Friends drinking water

Okay, we’re about to drop a (water) bomb. Are you ready for it?

You don’t need to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Even more shocking, your morning coffee actually does count towards your water intake. And so does that orange you ate with breakfast, that salad at lunch, and that soup you enjoyed at dinner.

This is not to say that you don’t need to drink water. You absolutely, positively do. And experts agree it is still your best source of water because it’s, well, water. Not to mention it doesn’t have any added calories, sugar or sweeteners.

But there’s a misconception that your morning coffee is working against your hydration efforts… and that you need to lug jugs of water with you to work every day. The truth is, for most people, eating three meals a day and drinking water (and other beverages) with meals and in between is enough to stay hydrated.

A hydrated body is a happy body

We all know about the benefits of gulping back a nice cold glass of water on a hot summer’s day. It’s refreshing! But ever wonder what wonderful things are going on inside your body when you’re properly hydrated? You’re helping control your core temperature, your heart rate, your blood pressure, and you are even aiding in the removal of waste through your urine.

Not only that, but drinking enough fluids ensures we are functioning human beings that can hold a conversation, make important decisions, and get through the day. Did you know deliriousness is a sign of extreme dehydration?

But even symptoms of mild dehydration can be quite serious, so don’t slack when it comes to getting your daily intake. Because the scary truth is, every single one of us is only a couple of percentage points away from a problem.

If you are experiencing extreme thirst, dizziness, confusion, or if you have dark-colored urine, or are heading to the washroom less frequently than normal, think back to when you last had water. If it’s been a while, drink up! And be sure to see a doctor if symptoms persist.

Extreme dehydration can lead to serious health complications, so unless you are stranded on a desert island don’t ever let things get this far.

Are you getting enough water?

If you aren’t sure if you’re getting enough H2O on a daily basis, ask yourself:

  • Do I typically use the washroom every two to four hours?
  • Is the color of my urine light yellow or clear?

If you answered ‘yes’ to both of the above questions, your body is more than likely hydrated and happy. So stop worrying about reaching what can feel like an impossible goal of eight whole glasses. That’s a lot of water to consume, especially if you have a small bladder.

The exception to the rule is athletes. Because they are using their bodies in a way that produces more sweat than the average person, they are also losing a lot more water. Experts recommend that they drink before they start to feel thirsty to avoid symptoms of dehydration.

This means 20-30 minutes prior to any sort of physical activity, every 30 minutes while they are active, and then again directly after the game or workout.

If you don’t consider yourself an athlete, but notice that you break into a sweat even during a low a intensity activity (like walking) you can easily determine whether you’re hydrated enough by calculating your sweat rate.

Or, simply weigh yourself directly before and after an activity. If you’ve lost weight, you aren’t getting enough fluids. Start hydrating right away. If you’ve gained weight, this can mean you’re drinking too much water.

Can you really have too much water?

If you’ve never heard of a condition called hyponatremia, you aren’t the only one. It’s a pretty uncommon, but serious, condition. While it can be due to a medical conditions, like congestive heart failure or a kidney condition, the main culprit is usually too much water.

Drinking too much can dangerously dilute the amount of sodium in your body, causing your body’s water levels to rise and your cells to swell.

Now, remember, we told you this was very rare, so please don’t stop drinking all that delicious water. That said, if the summer heat means you’ve been drinking significantly more than is your norm and you start to notice unexplained symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, confusion, or muscle weakness, we recommend heading to the doctor to rule hyponatremia out. Because the resulting health problems can be quite serious if left untreated.

At the end of the day, chances are, you’re getting too little water not too much. So why not go and pour yourself a glass right now? Not in five minutes. Right now.

We see you still sitting at your desk. Go!

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