Hydration Made Simple: How Much Water to Drink and When to Get Healthier

Have you ever wondered why we are constantly reminded to stay hydrated, even when we don’t feel particularly thirsty? It all comes down to the fact that our bodies continually lose water through processes like sweating and urination. Water also plays a crucial role in several vital body functions, such as eliminating bacteria, aiding digestion, transporting nutrients to cells, preventing constipation, and maintaining the delicate balance of electrolytes (especially sodium). So, it’s obvious that we need to replace lost fluids by drinking plenty of water, but how much?
Read too: 8 most hydrating drinks besides water

How much water should you drink daily?

The “eight glasses of water rule” has been a popular guideline in the health and fitness world for some time. This rule suggests that we should drink eight glasses of water a day. But here’s the problem: this rule isn’t one size fits all. The ideal amount of water needed can depend on several factors, including lifestyle, gender, age, activity level, and other factors.

The eight-glass water rule: a starting point

While the eight-cup rule is a decent starting point, your water needs are unique to you, so it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional to determine your precise needs. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, work in an air-conditioned environment and don’t sweat a lot, consuming two to two and a half liters of water daily should be enough. Drinking more than this can lead to overhydration.

Expert insights on water intake

Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood recommends a daily intake of 2.5 liters to replace water loss effectively. She emphasizes that dehydration can cause problems like severe headaches and mood swings, even when people don’t drink enough water. However, individuals with high levels of activity, such as athletes or those who exercise intensely, may need more water due to increased water loss through sweating.

Consultant nutritionist Dr Rupali Datta suggests that the eight-glass rule, or even just four glasses in the morning, lacks a strong scientific basis. Instead, she recommends a guideline of 35 ml of water per kilogram of body weight. The main goal is to always stay adequately hydrated, which becomes even more critical during the hot summer months.
Read too: 7 delicious drinks to help you stay hydrated

Drinking the right amount of water is important.
Photo credit: iStock

When to drink water for maximum benefits

Morning Hydration: Drinking water in the morning when you wake up helps activate your internal organs and prepare your body for the next day.

After training: After exercise, hydration helps regulate your heart rate and aids recovery.

Before meals: Consuming water about half an hour before a meal can improve digestion and prevent overeating.

After meals: The same rule applies. The ideal is to give your body half an hour to digest the food you eat and then consume water.

Time of day: Vasant Lad’s Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies suggests drinking more water during the hottest part of the day, i.e. mid-morning to early evening.

Health problems: Your body gives you cues to let you know it needs water. One of them is the color of the urine, the dark yellow color may indicate dehydration. Dry and cracked lips are one of the indicators of a dehydrated body. Try drinking more water in these circumstances.

When you feel unwell: Adequate hydration is crucial when you are sick to support your body’s function and recovery.

When feeling tired: Drinking water when you’re tired can help re-energize your system and provide a much-needed boost.
Read too: Why you shouldn’t drink water immediately after meals

How to drink water:

1. Sit down to drink

suggests drinking water while sitting. Drinking water while standing can harm the balance of body fluids. If you sit and drink, your muscles will be more relaxed to better reap the benefits.

2. Avoid swallowing

Ayurvedic expert Dr Akhilesh Sharma warns against swallowing large volumes of water in a single breath. It is best to sip the water slowly while breathing normally.

3. Room temperature over ice water

Cold water is not good for digestion. Instead, drink room temperature or moderately cold water during hot days. According to Dr. Akhilesh, warm water is even better because it helps regulate cholesterol levels.

Water is truly essential for our survival. Don’t ignore it and hydrate yourself correctly.

(This content, including advice, provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV takes no responsibility for this information.)

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