How much water do you need to stay hydrated
We have all heard or read this: “drink 8 glasses of water a day”. However, there are no studies to back this up. Don’t get me wrong. Water is essential for our health. But how much water do you need to stay hydrated?
According to the Journal of Medical Studies a man requires 3 litres of water a day, and a woman 2 litres a day. On the other hand, Harvard Medical School recommends to drink 4-6 glasses of water a day. According to Harvard there isn’t any scientific evidence showing that we need to drink 2-3 litres of water a day.
In Ayurveda which is the holistic health system I am specialised in, there is no research that shows how much water we need to drink in order to stay hydrated. It really depends on where you live, how active you are and what you do.
Our body is like a river
Our body depends on water. Imagine your body from the inside. See it as a flowing river. All your systems need water and fluids to function well. If we stop the “water flow” we damage the system, and we basically dry out on the inside. When we dry out on the inside we have kickstarted a Vata imbalance, which in Ayurveda means that the natural water flow/movement isn’t happening. This can create symptoms like constipation, dry skin, dry hair, dry lips, bad breath, stomach bloating and other digestive disorders. In Ayurveda water is related to Vata (movement/space), just like a flowing river. It’s the body in motion. The fluid in our body provides a healthy circulation and a moist environment to our nose, ears and chest/throat area.
We lose water daily through our breath, urine and bowel movements. For our body to function properly, we must drink water during the day, and eat foods that contain water too. Harvard Medical School recommends to eat soups, watermelon, spinach and other juicy foods to help the body stay hydrated. I would like to add that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more water and fluid foods to keep Vata (the natural fluid flow) in balance.
When we stop consuming water or foods for more than 4 hours, we put our system under pressure. This is why long fasting hours can be damaging to our health.
Our body is very smart. It knows when it needs water, and if you are aware of your body, you’ll know when you need to drink water. I always tell my clients; “drink when you’re thirsty”. “But how do I know when I am thirsty?”, is a common question I get. As a rule – don’t go without water for more than 2 hours, especially if you live in a hot climate or if you are exposed to heat. Remember, your body is like a flowing river. It needs fluid to be able to flow and function. When there’s no water that flows, you’ll end up drying out on the inside. And you want to avoid dehydration because the body will become weak and drowsy if you forget to drink water. In a cooler climate you don’t need as much fluid as you would in a hot climate. If you are on summer holiday and spend most of the time outdoors in the sun, your body naturally needs more hydration. This is because Pitta (the internal heat/fire) goes up.
As a general rule, drink more water:
- If you do sports or engage in any activity that makes you sweat
- If you live in a hot, dry or humid climate
- If you feel dry, sleepy or dizzy
- If you don’t get enough fruits and vegetables
- If you consume a lot of black/green tea and coffee
- If you spend many hours outside in the burning sun
Drink when you are thirsty
I would always recommend to drink when you feel thirsty. That means – avoid to drink water every 10 minutes! Your system needs a bit of rest and also needs time to digest the food you eat. I wouldn’t recommend to drink a lot of water during meals, and if possible to avoid any fluid 30 min before and 30 min after a meal. This allows your digestive system to have space to digest your food, and it also reduces stomach bloating and discomfort after you eat.
Don’t stress about following “health rules” that have no scientific proof. Rather listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty.
Stay happy and healthy,