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Water is one of the most important factors of a healthy lifestyle, but there's a lot of conflicting information out there about how much you should take in daily. Every person's hydration needs are different, but we've got some guidelines that will help you get the water you need every day.
Our bodies are 60 percent water and our blood is 90 percent water. Staying hydrated is crucial to keeping many different bodily systems functional. Dehydration can noticeably impair you if you lose as little as 2 percent of your body's water, and athletes routinely lose 6 to 10 percent via sweating.
Temperature Regulation: When we sweat, the water stored in our body moves to the skin's surface and evaporates, cooling us.
Joint Lubrication: The cartilage found in our joints and spinal disks is 80 percent water. Dehydration can reduce the shock-absorbing properties of your joints and make movement more difficult.
Skin Health: Moisturized skin is less vulnerable to skin disorders and premature aging.
Airway and Sinus Protection: Water is necessary to form saliva and mucus. Saliva helps break down and digest food, and also keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist, preventing friction and damage to them. Mucus acts as a protective barrier for our airways and lungs, trapping foreign particles and pathogens. It also helps moisten our airways and carries necessary antibodies, proteins, and enzymes.
Tissue Protection and Brain Function: Water provides a cushion for some of the most sensitive tissue in our bodies, as well as the brain and spinal cord. Dehydration can impair brain function and even affect the brain's structure, causing anxiety, headaches, mood impairment, and memory loss.
Energy Level: Dehydration can easily provoke fatigue.
Oxygen Delivery and Circulation: Blood moves oxygen throughout the body. A lack of water can cause the blood to thicken, which increases blood pressure.
Nutrient and Mineral Delivery: Water dissolves nutrients and minerals, which allows them to travel throughout the body.
Digestion: Our digestive system needs water to function, and dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation, stomach ulcers, and an overly acidic stomach.
Waste Management: Water is involved in the removal of urine and feces from our bodies. Sweating also helps remove waste products.
Kidney Protection: Kidneys regulate the fluid in our bodies, and rely on water. In addition, water reduces the risk of kidney stones.
We've probably made our point by now: you need water. And you need to replenish it during the day, since we lose water through breathing, sweating, and expelling waste. So how much should you get? The answer varies, depending on a variety of factors:
With all that said, what are the guidelines? You've probably heard the 8x8 Rule: eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day. It's a reasonable guideline, but it doesn't have to be a firm rule when living in a developed country with an adequate diet. We also get plenty of water from our foods, particularly fruits, vegetables, and even proteins like meat, fish, and eggs.
Adequate daily water intake for men is considered to be 125 ounces, and for women it's 91 ounces. Pregnant or breast-feeding women may require more, estimated to be 100-105 ounces. But every person's needs are different, and as we've seen can be affected by external factors. So it's important to listen to your thirst. If you're thirsty, drink! Our body's good at telling us when we're in need.
If you're not thirsty, and your urine is clear or pale yellow, you're probably getting enough water. But to ensure proper hydration, keep these tips in mind: