You try to eat healthy, work out, meditate, and get it all done by the day’s end, but are you thinking about how much water you’re drinking? You should be! It’s one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body. Without water, you would only be able to survive for a matter of days. Water makes up 75 percent of our body weight and is required for a number of bodily functions. Even as slight as a 2 percent or more body water deficiency can impact your cognitive ability, so stop what you’re doing and take a sip. We’re taking a deep dive into the water and getting to the bottom of how much water to drink per day, the benefits of water, signs and symptoms of dehydration, and ways to increase your water intake.
There’s no one size fits all formula for how much water to drink per day, but The Food and Nutrition Board suggests a minimum of 2.7 liters for women and 3.7 liters for men. The exact amount of water you need will vary based on your size, age, activity level, how much you sweat, and medication you take. This water can come from food and beverages combined. Foods with high water content include melons, lettuce, celery, cabbage, and cooked squash.
Beyond the minimum water intake level set by The Food and Nutrition Board, it’s important to listen to your body when it comes to determining how much water you should drink a day. Your body has an extremely sensitive network of regulatory controls that will trigger a feeling of thirst whenever it senses a change in fluid balance. These controls are connected to neural pathways in the brain and monitor the osmolality and blood volume in your body, alerting you when subtle changes occur and when to drink more water. If you don’t listen to these internal cues, you run the risk of a decrease in blood volume, which increases the amount of work required to carry nutrients like oxygen through your body.
Aside from when subtle changes occur in fluid balance, signaling you to drink more water, anticipatory signals can also force your hand in taking another sip. A portion of our drinking behavior actually occurs as a result of anticipatory thirst, which enables us to regulate our water consumption before any drastic changes occur that could potentially cause an imbalance.
If you struggle to stay hydrated, Parsley Health NY health coach Kelly Johnston has some tips on how to drink more water throughout the day.
Use a time marker water bottle
Look for a BPA-free and preferably glass water bottle with ticks for the time of day rather than ounces to help you stay on track throughout the day and let you know when to take your next sip. This will make it easier to track your water consumption and see how much more you have to go before end’s day.
Download an app
If you’re someone that tends to forget often, an app like Waterlogged will do all the hard work for you and make sure your meeting your water intake goals. It allows you to set daily goals, receive reminders, and graph your water consumption.
Try habit stacking
By taking a pre-existing habit such as brushing your teeth and stacking a new habit on top, such as drinking water, the act will become automatic. You’ll no longer have to think about the new habit you’re trying to create, you’ll just do it automatically following the habit you’re already used to.
Enlist physical reminders
Each time you finish a serving of water, i.e. the entire bottle, wrap a rubber band around the outside of your bottle. This serves as a physical reminder of how much water you’ve had and how much you have to go before you reach your recommended water intake.
In short, yes, but it really depends on the time frame you’re drinking the water within. Since the kidneys can only eliminate 27 to 33 ounces an hour , water intoxication can occur if you exceed this. While a case of drinking too much water is unlikely, we always advise checking with your primary care doctor to ensure you’re getting the right amount.
Kelly Johnston is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist with six years of experience in the health and wellness field, four of which have been spent right here at Parsley Health supporting members with everything from gut issues and autoimmune disease to cardiometabolic health concerns and fertility. She holds a Master's of Science in Nutrition from one of the leading science-based natural medicine schools in the country, Bastyr University, and completed her dietetic internship at Sea Mar Community Health Center in Seattle, WA.