a great source of fluid, the real recommendation is a little easier to swallow because it’s about how much total fluid -- not just water -- you drink a day. Look to the daily recommendations and your body’s signs to ensure you’re
drinking enough water every day.
The easiest way to know if you’re drinking enough water is to measure your thirst and urine. An adequate fluid intake leaves you rarely feeling thirsty and produces light yellow or colorless urine. If you’re not drinking enough water, you may show signs of dehydration. The early signs of dehydration include dry mouth, extreme thirst, headache and confusion. Your body may produce little to no urine, and you may notice the urine is darker than usual. You may feel dizzy, lightheaded and produce no tears when crying.
Logging your intake of water and all fluids is another way to ensure you’re receiving an adequate amount of fluid. The amount of fluid you need a day depends on many factors, and some medical institutions disagree on how much is enough. On average, the 8-by-8 rule is close to, but a little short of, the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations of 3 liters -- or 13 cups -- of total beverages a day for men and 2.2 liters -- or 9 cups -- of total beverages a day for women. Men need more water than women because they generally have more muscle mass. In addition to beverages, fluids from foods, such as soups and watery vegetables, count to the daily total.
People with certain medical conditions need more water. When you are pregnant, drink at least 2.3 liters -- or 10 cups -- of fluids daily. When breast-feeding, that number increases to 3.1 liters -- or 13 cups -- of fluids daily. Try drinking a glass of water after each time you nurse. If you have kidney stones or a bladder infection, talk to your doctor about increasing your fluid intake.
Any time you lose more fluids than you would in a normal day -- whether from illness, exercise or climate -- increase your fluid intake. When you’re exercising up to an hour, drink an additional 400 to 600 milliliters -- or 1.5 to 2.5 cups -- of water. For very intense exercise or exercise that lasts longer than an hour, water itself may not be enough. Drink a sports drink with sodium in addition to water. If it’s especially hot outside or you’re visiting an
altitude of at 8,200 feet or higher, drink more fluids.
Caution on Fluid Benefits
While manufactures of bottled drinks and even some medical institutes push people to drink more fluids, little research exists to show that the average person benefits from increased fluid intake. An editorial from the June 2008 issue of the "Journal of the American Society of Nephrology" and an article in the June 2011 "British Medical Journal" suggest the benefits of increased fluid intake have been overstated. According to the "American Society of Nephrology" editorial, not one study indicates the average person needs to drink the “8x8” amount of water daily. If your thirst is satisfied and your urine is light in color, you probably won't receive an extra benefit -- in skin appearance, concentration or general health -- from increasing fluids.