There are a variety of reasons to drink plenty of water each day. Adequate water intake prevents dehydration, cleans out the body, and promotes healing processes. Substituting water for beverages high in calories can also help control weight. Follow the steps below to make sure you’re getting enough of this most basic necessity.
Determine how much water you need. You’ve probably heard the “8 by 8” rule – drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day (2 quarts, 1.8 liters) – but the amount of water a person needs varies depending on his or her weight, activity level and climate. Another way to determine your specific recommended water intake is to divide your weight (in pounds) by two. The resulting number is the number of ounces of water you need each day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., strive to drink 75 ounces of water daily. For those who use the Metric system, divide your weight (in kilograms) by 30 (ex. somebody weighing 70 kg is going to need 2.3 liters per day). Keep in mind that these recommended intake numbers are controversial and some experts believe they are a gross exaggeration. See “warnings” below for more information.
- Measure your daily intake of water. Do this for a few days. If you find that you’re drinking less than the recommended quantity, try some of the following tips:
- Carry water with you everywhere put it in a bottle or other container.
- Keep a glass or cup of water next to you whenever you’ll be sitting down for a long time, such as when you’re at your desk at work. Drink from it regularly as you’re working.
- Try wearing a digital watch that beeps at the beginning of each hour. Use that as a reminder to pour yourself a glass of water. Vow to drink that water before the next beep. If you drink only one small (6 ounce or 180Â ml) cup per hour, you’ll have consumed 48 ounces (1.4 liters) by the end of an 8-hour workday.
- Get a water purification system. Purified water tastes very good and may help make drinking water more appealing to you. Be aware, though, that as you grow accustomed to purified water, you may find that tap water leaves a bad taste in your mouth, even though it may be better for your teeth. Keep in mind that fluoride, found in small quantities in tap water, is necessary for strong, healthy teeth.  Fortunately, no water filter removes the fluoride. You’d have to use reverse osmosis, distillation, or an expensive filter specific to removing fluoride. But don’t do any of that. Fluoride in the saliva bathes the teeth and prevents dental decay!
- Add lemons or limes to your water. This makes it taste better and makes you want to drink more of it. Be careful not to make it too sour; just a splash of sourness should do the trick. Cucumber slices can also be added to a glass of water. Some mint leaves can be added to a pitcher of water which should be allowed to sit overnight. These are cheap alternatives to the bottled flavored water. If you do choose bottled flavored water, check the ingredients, as these are likely closer in form to lemon- or limeade than they are to water.
- Eat water rich foods, such as fruits like watermelon, which is 92% water by weight. Blend up some seedless fresh watermelon flesh with some ice and place a few sprigs of mint (optional) – one of the most refreshing drinks, especially for the summertime. Cranberry juice is also another option, and has a bitter taste. Patients suffering from urinary infection caused by insufficient intake of water should drink cranberry juice and eat watermelon if not plain water everyday. A tomato is 95% water. An egg is about 74% water.
- Keep water cold if it tastes better for you. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator at home. Add ice or freeze water in a sports bottle before taking it with you, it will eventually melt and stay cold. Bear in mind that cold water takes energy for your body to regulate the temperature, and does burn some calories. Room temperature water is better if you’re dehydrated. Your body can absorb the room temperature water immediately, instead of the body having to raise the temperature of the water first in order to process it.
- Climate can drastically change how much water you need. On hot days that require you to be outside, you should drink more water to counteract the fluids you lose when you sweat. This not only keeps your body hydrated, it can prevent heat-related illness. Just as important (but often overlooked) is consuming enough fluids in cold & wet conditions. The human body works much more efficiently (including heating and cooling) when properly hydrated. Inadequate water intake affects the brain’s function first, which can become very dangerous (especially in extreme conditions).
- Herbal tea, seltzer water and soup broth can count as part of the daily water intake.
- Make refreshing flavored water by filling a pitcher with filtered or tap water and then adding a few slices of citrus fruit, or a tea ball with herbs such as peppermint. Refrigerate for 4-8 hrs. Remove fruit slices or herbs, so the flavor doesn’t get too strong.
- Increasing your water intake may cause you to have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. To avoid this, you may want to stop drinking water a few hours before bedtime–or make sure you visit the toilet before bed!
- While adequate water is essential to health, it is possible to drink too much water or any other beverage, and there has been considerable scientific debate surrounding how much water a person really needs per day. According to Snopes – the Los Angeles Times has reported that “Kidney specialists do agree on one thing, however: that the 8-by-8 (2 L) rule is a gross overestimate of any required minimum. To replace daily losses of water, an average-sized adult with healthy kidneys sitting in a temperate climate needs no more than one liter of fluid…the equivalent of about four 8-ounce (250 ml) glasses.
- People with some heart conditions, high blood pressure or swelling of the lower legs (edema) need to avoid excess water. If you have a history of kidney problems, especially if you have had a transplant, consult your doctor before increasing your fluid intakes.
- You shouldn’t drink too much water while eating as it dilutes your stomach acid and can cause digestion problems.
- If you live in a place with a lot of heat (e.g., The Caribbean), you will have to drink extra water.
- It is possible to “overdose” on water. Water intoxication occurs when the electrolytes in the body are so diluted that they have trouble keeping the balance of water even inside and outside of individual cells. What that means is that drinking too much water (while not getting enough electrolytes) can cause your cells to burst. If you plan on doing heavy prolonged exercise, be sure to alternate sports drinks with regular water to keep your electrolytes in balance. Three glasses of water to one glass of typical sugary sports drink is ideal if you rely on sports drinks for electrolytes during very heavy prolonged exercise, such as a marathon.
- Gatorade and other sugary electrolyte drinks also contain acetic acid which can increase rates of tooth decay. There is no real reason to drink electrolyte drinks unless you are heavily exercising (see above).
- Be aware that some elderly individuals with difficulty walking may avoid drinking adequate amounts of water, as they have difficulty transferring/walking to the bathroom. In such cases, a bedside commode may be useful. If you are caring for such an individual, encourage them to drink the necessary amount of water and reassure him/her that you can help them with the transfer to the commode.
- It is not recommended that you reuse plastic water bottles that are intended for one time use, specifically number one plastics. These bottles leach chemicals into your water after multiple uses. The bottle, if not properly cleaned, may harbor bacteria from your mouth. If you wish to always have water around, use a glass or aluminum water bottle. Bottles like Sigg or other canteens are now more favorable due to the risk of chemical leaching when using plastic products.
- In some countries, tap water is dangerous and can cause diseases such as jaundice. Make sure you know what’s safe and what isn’t.
Things You’ll Need
- Bottle (Optional)
- Money (If you buy bottled water and for your water bills)
- Determination (Don’t give up)
- Counter (Keep up with how much you drink)
- Conveniently-located commode (Optional)
- Timer to keep track of when to drink water