How much water your body needs

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This kiddo knows that he's thirsty and where to get a sip
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Listen to your body and it will tell you how much fluid you need

We have heard it time and time again: For optimal health drink eight glasses of water a day. Some of us take heed; some of us do not.

However, not all of us have the same requirements. It is a little dangerous to apply a blanket recommendation. For example, if you are a couch potato you probably do not need to drink as much water as a marathon runner. Fluid requirements depend on the individual and on other crucial factors, including the medicine that you are taking, the weather, environmental circumstances and your activity level. So the answer to the question of, "How much water your body needs" has a number of different responses.

What we do not hear about very often is that too much water consumption can be downright dangerous. A healthy body can process sizable amounts of water; however, an individual must have sufficient electrolytes in his body, sodium specifically, as well as fluid. Too much water and insufficient levels of sodium can result in hyponatremia or water intoxication, which can occur in high endurance athletes, who lose vast quantities of sodium when they sweat and then drink too much fluid in an attempt to rehydrate themselves.

Older people are also at risk of developing hyponatremia because of the myriad of medications they take in addition to existing health conditions. This can co-opt the ability of their bodies to get rid of excess fluids and maintain necessary sodium levels.

So what is the amount of how much water your body needs? Some medical experts disagree that drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily is going to safeguard your health or even make you healthier. Some schools of thought recommend that you drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. For example, a 200 pound man would be required to drink 100 ounces of water daily.

Drinking more water than your body needs is pointless. On the other hand, you need to recognize those times when you are going to require more fluid intake ---  such as when you are working out in the gym or gardening on a hot summer day --- and plan accordingly. Take water with you.

Sometimes dehydration can occur in extreme circumstances even if you are drinking the recommended amount of water.

Your best bet is to avoid dehydration in the first place. Severe dehydration is no laughing matter. It can cause your body to shut down and send you into shock. Dehydration can also impact your health in other ways, creating problems with your kidneys, including kidney stones and kidney failure, as well as constipation and heartburn.

Dehydration results when you lose between three percent and five percent of your body weight via fluid loss. Fluid loss occurs when you vomit, sweat or have diarrhea. If you are already low on fluids and proceed to engage in physical labor or exercise you can become dehydrated very quickly.

The first sign that you are becoming dehydrated is thirst. Drink something. Pay attention to the signals that your body is giving you. Do not gulp down a bunch of water, particularly if you are suffering from diarrhea or nausea, which will make matters worse. Take sips.

Other signs that you are becoming dehydrated include fatigue, difficulty thinking and concentrating, a sticky or gummy feeling in your mouth, dry mouth and lips, an elevated heart rate, headache and dizziness.

Mild dehydration will affect your urine. If your urine is unusually dark or strong smelling this can indicate dehydration. If you are not peeing much this is also a sign that you may be dehydrated. You need to pay serious attention to how much water your body needs and evaluate your fluid intake.

Rehydrate yourself with water, drinking slowly, or pure fruit juice. You can also eat fruit to combat dehydration because fruit has a lot of water in it.

Foods that have over 90 percent water content include celery, watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, spinach and broccoli. Foods that have 80- to 90 percent water content are cantaloupe, grapes, potatoes, carrots, apples, peas and oranges.

The best way to gauge if you are getting enough fluid into your body and providing how much water your body needs is to pay attention to how you feel. Watch for signs of dehydration. Play it safe and sip water throughout the day. You are not required to guzzle gallons.

References: how much water do you really need? waterlogged

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