Are You Drinking Enough Water?

By Dubuque Physical Therapy Team

June 6, 2022

Written by Ashley Wood, PT

Importance of Drinking Water

Water is one of the six nutrients that is essential for life.  While your body can survive for weeks without food, you can only survive a few days without water.  Water makes up 50%-70% of your body weight and is important for all systems in your body to function properly.

Some of the roles water plays in your bodies include:

  • getting rid of waste
  • regulating body temperature
  • carrying nutrients and oxygen to all cells of the body
  • converting food to energy
  • cushioning vital organs
  • and lubricating joints

If you are not taking in enough water, your body is unable to function properly.

If you have poor hydration…

  • Your circulation can be affected and prevent your organs from getting necessary nutrients.
  • You can feel tired, irritable, and cranky.
  • You can have difficulty focusing and thinking clearly, which can make you less productive.
  • You can feel stiff, sore, and achy.

How Much Is Enough?

Many people do not drink enough water every day.  At a minimum, you should drink half of your body weight in ounces every day.  So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day.  Some of your fluid intake can be from drinks that are made primarily of water such as tea, fruit juices, sports drinks, and coffee, but most of your fluid intake should be water.  If you are drinking caffeinated drinks, you can only count half the amount of that beverage (16 ounces of caffeinated coffee would count for 8 ounces of fluid intake).  This is because caffeine can promote increased urination, so you will be losing some of the fluid you are taking in.  Keep in mind that drinking sports drinks, fruit juices, and other sweetened drinks increases the amount of sugar you are consuming, so it is a good idea to drink these sparingly.  The recommendation for daily water intake is based on your body working under normal conditions.  If the weather is hot/humid or you are exercising, you will need to increase your water intake since your body will be losing more fluids through sweat.

Signs You Are Not Getting Enough Water

The best way to tell if you are well hydrated is by the color of your urine.  Urine should be pale yellow (like lemonade) in color to nearly colorless.  If your urine is darker in color, then you need to drink more water.  Being thirsty is another sign that you are dehydrated.  You should be drinking water consistently throughout the day to avoid getting to the point that you feel thirsty.

Signs of dehydration include: 

  • dry mouth
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • decreased urine output
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • fatigue
  • extreme thirst
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • heart palpitations
  • low blood pressure.  

These can be acute signs of dehydration, but you can also be chronically dehydrated and have some of the symptoms.

Tips for Increasing Water Intake

Increasing your water intake to the daily recommended amount can seem like a daunting task.  The first rule of thumb is not to do this all in one day, or you will spend most of your time in the bathroom.  Instead, gradually increase your fluid intake by 4-8 ounces every 1-2 days to allow your body to adjust to the extra fluid.  Tips for making sure you are getting enough water each day include:

  1. Drink a glass of water each morning before you eat breakfast.
  2. Keep a jug of the recommended amount of water in your refrigerator and make sure you drink it all every day.
  3. Carry a water bottle with you and drink regularly between meals.
  4. Drink a glass of water with each meal.
  5. Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  6. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can increase the amount of fluid you are taking in because they tend to have a high water content. Fruits and vegetables that are particularly high in water include lettuce, celery, zucchini, cabbage, and melons.
  7. If you do not like drinking plain water, use a fruit infuser water bottle to naturally flavor your water with fruits such as lemons, limes, and strawberries. There are a lot of enhancers to flavor water on the market, but be aware that these have added sugar or artificial sweeteners and should be used sparingly.

 

Increasing the amount of water you are drinking is a simple an inexpensive way to improve your overall health.  Every system in your body depends on water to function properly.  If you have further questions about this topic, consult with your health care provider for further information.