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Are You Drinking Enough Water?

Eight glasses of water per day seems to be drilled into our brains by now, but a few questions arise based on this adage. First, is it really enough? Second, does it have to be water? What are the signs of not drinking enough water (or fluid) so you really know you’re getting enough? And what is really considered a “glass”? Keep reading to find out.

Enough is enough

The eight glasses per day rule may be a bit simplistic, really. For example, what if you’re exercising (i.e. sweating) or if it’s a really hot day? Obviously your body is going to lose more fluid on these days, so you need to take in more fluid to compensate. So, if you lose more fluid, then drink more fluid. It’s as easy as that, but here are a few tips to help you manage fluid intake throughout the day: ­   Drink a glass of water/fluid with each meal ­   Drink a glass of water/fluid between each meal ­   Drink a glass of water/fluid before, during, and after exercise ­   Drink more water/fluid when it’s hot Additionally, whether you are male, female, pregnant, or breastfeeding contributes to your body’s need for fluid. Men generally require about 3 liters (13 cups) of fluid per day, while women require 2.2 liters (9 cups) per day, according to Dr. Pamila Brar. Pregnant or breastfeeding women will require more fluid to help keep both baby and mom healthy.

What counts?

So, does it have to be water? Do caffeinated drinks count for less, or worse, negatively affect your body’s fluid levels? Let’s get to the nitty-gritty details. First, count your food. That’s right – many fruits and vegetables are a large source of hydration for your body, as much as 20 percent per day. Some are higher than others (like watermelon), but in general the more fruits and veggies you consume, the less water you’ll need. Just one more reason to eat more fruits and veggies! Second, other drinks count as well, such as juice or milk (dairy or non-dairy). Although for optimal health you want to avoid too many fluid calories in a day, as they won’t keep you full and may contribute to weight gain. As for that daily caffeine indulgence, The Mayo Clinic reports that it does not negatively affect your fluid levels, but should still be considered in moderation.

Looking for the signs

The best way to find out if you are getting enough water daily is to observe your body. First, you should be urinating regularly, and your urine should be a light yellow. Dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration. Sure, it may not be the most fun to take a look, but it’s a really good indicator of your body’s fluid levels. Other signs of overall dehydration can be indicated by dark circles or bags under your eyes, flaky skin or acne, a dry and red nose, headaches, and a dry mouth. When your body is properly hydrated you should have more energy, and your skin and hair will appear more lustrous. Those are not the only benefits, though. Proper hydration can help reduce wrinkles (by plumping up your skin cells), give you stronger hair and nails, even reduce hangover and sunburn effects. Drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can curb overeating and help you feel full between meals. And don't forget that you can add lemon or lime slices or other fruit to add flavor. So grab that water bottle and keep it full!