Water is your body’s most basic necessity. It's essential for life and many bodily functions. Making up roughly 60% of your body, water is essential for every single cell to do its job. That means water takes care of things like removing toxins, regulating body temperature and supporting kidney function and digestion— just to name a few. Whoa! Given how important adequate water intake is on the day-to-day, you need to help your body out by staying properly hydrated. But how much water do you really need in a day, and how do you know if you’re not drinking enough?
How much do I need?
You’ve heard the old wives tale about drinking eight glasses a day. Turns out that easy equation might not work for everyone. Your body might need more or less water depending on several factors, including where you live — hot weather, dry climates, and altitude are going to require more hydration — how often you work out (start guzzlin’!), and your overall well-being, as getting sick or feeling under the weather means you need more water, stat!
However, on average, a healthy adult living in a temperate climate needs:
- Roughly 15.5 cups (or about three 40oz water bottles) a day for men
- Roughly 11.5 cups (or about 2.5 40oz water bottles a day) for women
How can I tell if I’m not drinking enough?
According to integrative nurse Lynn Green, a good rule of thumb is if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
More signs it’s time to start sipping:
- You have dry lips and mouth. A dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva — meaning you don’t have enough fluid in your body to produce the saliva. Therefore, dryness occurs.
- You have bad breath. Saliva holds bacteria-fighting properties. When you’re not producing enough it’s because other organs in your body needed fluids more, and fighting odor is last on the list!
- Your urine is a darker yellow. Urine should be clear to pale yellow.
- Have you experienced kidney stones? You might want to up your intake if you’re prone. Water will dilute urine so crystals can’t clump.
As always, the best way to know if you’re overly dehydrated is to talk with your healthcare professional.
Tips for getting in the necessary amounts
- Carry a water bottle around with you during the day. Refill it whenever you get below half full. We like these giant cups for easy sipping via a straw.
- Try to always choose water (even carbonated water!) or unsweetened tea over sugary drinks.
- Try infusing your water with a little flavor if plain water bores you. Add a wedge of lime, lemon, or orange or a few mint leaves.
- Make ice cubes out of your favorite tea to add a bit of flavor to your usual glass of water. Have kids? Try hibiscus tea — it adds a bit of sweetness and a nice pink color.
- Hydrate first thing in the morning. Dehydration can also happen overnight, so you’ll want to drink up in the a.m. to replenish your system. Try challenging yourself to drink a glass of water before your coffee.
- Eat water-packed foods. Cucumber, celery, and watermelon all have lots of water to help keep the body hydrated.