There is very little data on exactly how much water a person should drink, however, the old suggestion of eight glasses a day may still be a realistic goal. Athletes in training should target 80-90 ounces or more, depending on how much they are sweating. If urine appears dark yellow, water intake needs to be increased. The color of urine should typically be a pale yellow to clear.
Fresh spring water is ideal. These days, there is bottled water, flavored water, vitamin water and of course, tap water. The best source for cooking, is water filtered through a reverse osmosis system. This is a very high grade filter that can be installed under your kitchen sink by a local water company. Any other form of regular water, tap or bottled, is still better than a soda. Vitamin and specialty waters can become a problem due to added sugars. Others promise extra vitamins when in fact they contain very few. In truth, water doesn’t need to provide anything other than water. It’s important enough.
The boom of bottled water, while it popularized hydration, also triggered a huge influx of plastic bottles being dumped into our environment, which allows certain chemicals, like phthalates, to leech into the ground, water and our bodies. These pose various risks including cancer. Try to transport water in stainless steel or glass bottles. If you have plastic bottles, don’t allow them to sit in the sun. Also, don’t use plastic to carry or heat water, as this might increase chemical leeching. Grab a glass, grab a pitcher; just be sure to drink in the natural gifts of water.
Because water has so many life-sustaining functions, dehydration isn’t just a matter of being a little thirsty. The effects depend on the degree of dehydration, but a water shortage causes your kidneys to conserve water, which in turn can affect other body systems. You’ll urinate less and can become constipated. As you become increasingly more dehydrated, the following symptoms will develop:
- diminished muscular endurance
- lack of energy
- decreased concentration
- tachycardia (galloping heart rate)
- increased body temperature
- permanent organ damage or death
Under normal conditions, the standard of 64 ounces a day is sufficient. That amount includes water from sources other than the tap. If you’re an athlete or someone who spends a lot of time out in the sun, sweating, you’ll probably need more. A good way to tell if you’re adequately hydrated is by observing the color of your urine. If it’s dark yellow or amber, that’s a sign that it’s concentrated, meaning there’s not enough water in the wastes that are being eliminated. If it’s light, the color of lemon juice, that’s normal. Bathroom breaks should happen every two to three hours. If you don’t need to urinate for longer periods of time, you’re not drinking enough water.