Water makes up the majority of our body weight, and is crucial for life. We all know drinking water is important to stay hydrated, yet the majority of the population is dehydrated and many people have no idea. The Institute of Medicine of National Academies recommends that women drink 91 ounces a day and men drink 125 ounces a day. This is much higher that the most common eight cups (64 ounces) per day recommendation that many people believe. There is water in food and other liquids and it is possible to reach the daily requirements without drinking only pure water, although it is hard to measure. A persons hydration status is effected by body size, sweat rate, activity level, and climate.
The human thirst mechanism is not a good indicator of water needs because usually by the time thirst kicks in you are already dehydrated. "Hydration is important because the body is comprised mostly of water, and the proper balance between water and electrolytes in our bodies really determines how most of our systems function, including nerves and muscles," says Larry Kenney, PhD, a professor of physiology and kinesiology at Penn State. Hydration status is a measure of the concentration of solutes (blood, and other blood constituents) to the amount of solvent (plasma). When the solvent levels decrease the blood concentration rises and results in being thirsty once your body reaches approximately 2% dehydration. Sports drinks may be a great option to help reach and maintain a hydration goal. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes will aid in water retention and may increase hydration status more effectively than pure water alone. If you exercise frequently, or lose large volumes of water regularly a sports drink is a great choice for hydration. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks are detrimental to hydration. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretic in nature and will cause your body to increase the excretion of bodily fluids. These can dehydrate a person more quickly!
People also commonly mistake thirst for hunger. If you feel hunger or the urge to snack try drinking a glass of water first and see if it suppresses your appetite. Sometimes one glass can do the trick, and this can help with a weight loss goal as well. Drinking a lot of water is great, but it is possible to consume too much water and dilute the bodies sodium levels causing hyponatremia also known as water intoxication. It would take about 15 liters of water to reach this point and most people have no need to worry. If you stick to the recommendation that women drink at least 91 ounces per day and men drink at least 125 ounces per day, you will have excellent hydration, and your body will be happy.