Experts tell us that a major component of the human body is water—about 60 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health. Water is essential to the body’s proper functioning, serving as a solvent for many important biochemical reactions; helping to flush toxins from the body through urination, perspiration and bowel movements; enhancing circulation and nutrient transport; and aiding in regulating body temperature.
When the body doesn’t get sufficient water for its needs, the result is dehydration, signs of which can include dark-colored urine, dizziness, weakness, headache, low blood pressure and confusion.
How much water you need depends on a number of factors, including how much physical activity you engage in, the climate and temperature where you live, and how much you perspire.
Recommendations vary for how much water the average adult needs daily. Some sources recommend drinking 30-50 fluid ounces each day, while others suggest drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If you’re an athlete or are very active, or if you live in a dry or hot climate, your hydration needs likely will be greater.
Don’t try to drink 50 or 64 ounces of water in one or two marathon sessions, though. Instead, spread out your fluid intake throughout the day. Most of your daily hydration needs should be supplied by drinking plain water, but other fluids can contribute, too. However, don’t rely heavily on sugary fluids or those—such as coffee, tea, carbonated drinks and alcohol—that can act as diuretics, actually causing the body to lose water. Eating foods that contain water, such as fruits, vegetables and soups, also contributes to your daily hydration needs.
Use the color of your urine to help you gauge how much water to drink. Ideally, your urine should be a light yellow color to nearly clear, rather than dark and thick.
By drinking plenty of water each day, your muscles, heart, brain, blood, skin—in fact, your whole body—will function better. As well, you may think more clearly, have more energy, and may even feel less hungry—which can result in consuming fewer calories.