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Drink Up: How Water Boosts Your Health

September 01, 2023

Every cell in your body needs a plentiful supply of water to work well. It helps you digest food, lubricate your joints, get rid of body waste and avoid energy-draining dehydration. It can even affect your cognitive functions, including mood, energy and attention. Now, research suggests drinking water also may offer extra protection against chronic diseases that tend to pop up as we grow older.

Health Benefits of Water

According to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that people who were “well-hydrated” were healthier and less likely to have chronic conditions such as heart and lung disease. People who drank less water were more likely to die at a younger age than their better hydrated peers. Still, it should be noted that the research is in its early stages and more work needs to be done before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

So how much water do you need to drink every day to take advantage of definitive and potential health benefits?

How Much Is Enough?

There are a range of recommendations on how much water you should drink each day. There’s no perfect answer here, since it varies based on your sex and a host of other factors. As a rule of thumb, daily water consumption should be 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women and 3.7 liters (125 ounces) for men, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

People get about 20 percent of their daily water intake from food. The rest is dependent on drinking water and other water-based beverages.

So, as a rule of thumb, men should consume about 100 ounces (3 liters) and women about 73 ounces (2.12 liters) of water or beverages each day.

That number can be modified by several factors, including:

  • Physical activity level. If you exercise or engage in other activities that make you sweat, you’ll need to drink even more water to offset those lost fluids.
  • Environment. Particularly in places like Florida, hot and humid weather will make you sweat, increasing your need to drink more.
  • Overall health. If you are sick, you are at risk of losing water to diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. You will need to increase your water consumption to offset losses.

How To Drink Enough Water

For many people, it can be daunting to think about drinking multiple liters of water every day. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all in one sitting. And you can consume water from a variety of sources.

Among the strategies to consider:

  • Create a habit. You don’t have to hit your goal on day one. Start at the halfway point and work up from there.
  • Carry a bottle. As part of your new habit, start carrying a water bottle with you during the day, refilling it as needed. Drinking throughout the day will make it easier to hit your daily goal.
  • Add some flavor. Lemon, lime and other fruit flavors will improve the taste.
  • Go high-tech. You can buy a smart bottle to help you keep track of your water consumption.
  • Challenge a friend. If you are motivated by competition, find a friend or family member to compete with.
  • Other liquids count. Milk, juice, tea and soda are all high in water content. So they count. But you don’t want to go overboard with these, particularly the liquids that are high in sugar or caffeine.
  • Eat your water. It’s estimated that we consume 20 percent to 30 percent of our daily water through the food we eat. Not all foods are equal. Fruits like watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe are more than 90 percent water. On the other end of the spectrum, nuts, crackers and cereals are less than 10 percent water.

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