Drinking enough water keeps you healthy. How much is enough, though? How much is too much? And, how do you keep kids drinking when you are on the run so often? We have answers.
Humans are about 60% water (45-75% depending on age, body fat, gender, etc.). We lose fluids through sweating, breathing, urinating, and moving our bowels, then we replace that water by eating foods high in water (fruits, vegetables, and soup, for example), by drinking non-water beverages, and by just drinking water. We keep our body fluids in balance when fluids in and fluids out are equal.
How much water should I drink a day?
You’ve heard that you should drink a gallon (64 ounces) of water a day. There isn’t actually any scientific support for this number, but it’s easy to remember 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day, so that can be used as a general guideline. An adult male might need about 100 ounces a day while a female might need 72 ounces. A pregnant woman would need to add another 8 ounces a day, and a breastfeeding woman would need to add another 24 ounces, or 3 small glasses of water per day.
You body uses more water when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as you exercise (and you sweat), when it’s hot (and you sweat), when you are sick (especially if you’ve vomited or had diarrhea), or if you are losing weight (to eliminate toxins). To keep fluids in balance, drink more water in any of these situations.
Don’t drink all of that water at once
You can drink too much water all at once. Your intake shouldn’t exceed what your kidneys can excrete, which is about 1 liter or 1 quart of water in an hour. When you exceed what your kidneys can excrete, the excess goes to your cells and swells them. This is why one symptom of excess water intake is a headache, since your brain is 70-75% water.
What happens if I don’t drink enough?
Mild dehydration, when your body is losing more fluids than you are taking in, can result in feeling tired, headachy, dizzy, and, of course, thirsty. If you are exercising without drinking, you might notice muscle fatigue. More severe dehydration can leave your or your children with sunken eyes, sunken fontanel, no tears, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, and dry mouth. You are likely to notice and remedy the lack of water before the severe symptoms.
Dehydration can also lower your metabolism. If you are trying to lose weight, keep a close eye on your water intake because “[b]eing even 1% dehydrated can cause a significant drop in metabolism.” If you urine is amber or dark, you need more water.
It’s a Goldilocks situation. Not too much, not too little, just right helps to keep our body fluids in balance. Your thirst generally tells you when you need to be drinking, unless you are drinking dehydrating drinks or unless you are sick (or diabetic).
Drink water steadily throughout the day without taking in too much at once.
Your tap water is probably safe, though it’s worth watching the local water quality assessments. If you do need a water filtration system, get one that meets your needs. Most people won’t need anything fancy.
How can I get my kids to drink water?
In my family, we started when the children were small, and we limited non-water drinks. It’s easier to start a habit when your children are young, and the behavior is just what your family does.
One thing that helped a lot in my family was getting a set of four glasses each with a different design. We have the Beatles. When I see John, I know it’s my glass, and I don’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s a funny thing to make a difference, but designated water glasses has kept us drinking more.
If you are avoiding plastic and aluminum bottles, so you are leaning toward glass but want to avoid breakage as well, we recommend Lifefactory glass bottles. They are covered in silicone sleeves that make them break resistant and easy to grip, even for little hands.
We like the Lifefactory Glass bottles because of the variety. For adults and older children, you can choose 12 oz, 16 oz, or 22 oz sizes. They have straw tops, loop tops, and flip tops. For little kids and babies, they have sippy tops and bottle tops. Choose a different color for each person in the family, and you will always know whose water is whose.
Lifefactory’s bottles are made in France, and the rest of the components are made in the USA. They are BPA free and dishwasher safe. Wide tops make it easy to add ice. We like the great performance of these reusable water bottles.
When you are teaching your family to have healthy habits, like drinking more water, it helps to have the right tools on hand.