Ask A Practitioner: How Much Water Should I Drink?

Ask A Practitioner: How Much Water Should I Drink?

Karen Deputy, NTP Karen Deputy, NTP
8 minute read

Are you feeling fatigued? Do you have a daily headache? Are you experiencing cravings? What about muscle cramps or anxiety


If you answered yes to any of these, you may be surprised to find out they are all signs of dehydration.


We’re often told to drink eight glasses of water daily to stay hydrated. But is that really true? How much is a glass anyway? 


Being properly hydrated has many benefits. Water is the first thing we think of when we think of hydration, and for good reason—water makes up 55% to 78% of total body mass¹. That’s a lot! 


Water is integral to the digestion and elimination process. It helps regulate body temperature, facilitates healing, and helps transport nutrients throughout the body. And water keeps our joints and bones working properly. It also delivers oxygen throughout the body and is essential for brain function. Simply put, we need water to survive and thrive. 


Not drinking enough water can dehydrate us, whether because we are “too busy” to drink or don't have access to clean water. Extreme heat or exercise can cause dehydration by triggering excessive sweating. Illnesses resulting in fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or increased urination can also cause dehydration². Certain medications can have a diuretic effect and are also dehydrating.


Recent research has shown that the more ultra-processed food people eat, the less water they drink⁴. This is a double-edged sword, because ultra-processed foods contain less water than non-processed fruits and vegetables. Not only are people drinking less water, but they are also consuming less water from their food, all leading to more significant dehydration symptoms. 


Though the main sign of dehydration can be thirst, many of us do not listen to our thirst signals, and thirst signals may diminish as we age.  


Other signs you might be dehydrated include: 

  • headache 

  • dry mouth

  • dark urine

  • cravings

  • fatigue

  • muscle cramps

  • anxiety

  • difficulty concentrating


Signs of chronic dehydration include: 

  • heartburn

  • joint pain

  • constipation

  • back pain

  • digestion challenges

hand holding a glass of water

What can you do? To stay properly hydrated, drink the right amount of water for you, focus on electrolyte balance, and eat whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables. 

 

How much water should I drink?


A good starting point is half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, a 150-pound person should aim to consume around 75 ounces of water daily, but this is a general guideline. Your needs will vary depending on some individual factors.

 

  • Extreme temperatures—If you live in a hot climate or are experiencing a heatwave or cold environment, you will want to be sure you are consuming enough water. It can be more challenging to focus on thirst signals when it’s cold than when it’s warm outside. Hot water with lemon can be warming and will help you reach your daily hydration goals. 

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you’ll need to consume additional water to meet your hydration needs and dehydration can affect breast milk supply.  Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes. 

  • Exercise—During exercise or strenuous activity, extra water is recommended, and it’s a great time to think about adding in some electrolytes. 

  • Alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and sugary drinks can contribute to dehydration. You will want to add to your daily water intake to offset their diuretic properties. 

Tips for hitting your daily water goals

  • Keep a bottle of water on your nightstand or next to the sink, and have a few sips when you first wake up. 

  • Drink a glass of water while your morning coffee or tea is brewing.

  • Treat yourself to a new water bottle in your favorite color. 

  • Experiment to see if drinking through a straw makes it easier to drink more. 

  • Pour all of your water into a large pitcher, so you visualize how much water you need during the day.

  • Set a reminder on your phone to refill your water bottle or glass.

  • Create goals. For example, drink ⅓ of your daily water needs before noon.

  • Keep a bottle of water on your desk, in the car while you run errands, and next to you while relaxing with a book or a tv show. 


Eating whole, unprocessed foods can also help your hydration status. Many fruits and vegetables are high in water content and count towards your hydration goals. Lettuce, celery, cucumber, zucchini, and many fruits have high water content. Watermelon, anyone?


older woman pouring water into glass


Add Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals that are essential in balancing the fluids in the body. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all electrolytes that help with hydration. Our bodies use more of these minerals in times of stress, illness, or just by sweating. It is essential to support hydration by replacing the electrolytes we have lost. These minerals are found in the fruits and vegetables we eat, though modern-day farming practices can deplete them from the soil. High-quality salt is another excellent source of electrolytes. 


Many people find adding an electrolyte drink into their daily routine helpful in maintaining proper hydration. Try adding supplemental electrolytes into a glass of water every morning or after your workout. 


Or you can try making your own electrolyte drink. Citrus fruits, especially lemons, are high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. We love adding a pinch of high-quality salt (for sodium and other minerals), a touch of honey, and a good squeeze of lemon to 8 ounces of water for a refreshing and hydrating beverage. 

 

Another great electrolyte drink recipe:

  • 8 oz filtered water 

  • 2 oz coconut water

  • Pinch of sea salt 

  • Squeeze of lemon

 

Commercial sports drinks contain artificial colors and excess or artificial sweeteners, and it’s important to avoid them when possible. 

Other Hydrating Beverages

Bone broth is an excellent source of electrolytes and hydration, making it an easy way to meet your hydration goals. Soup for dinner (or breakfast—it sounds crazy, but it’s wonderful) or sipping on bone broth in the afternoon is a cozy way to hydrate even when it’s cold outside, and a glass of cold water doesn’t sound as appealing. 


Coconut water has electrolytes naturally, and many people love the taste. If you enjoy the flavor of coconut water, go ahead and enjoy, it counts towards your hydration goals. 


Carbonated water has become quite popular recently, and for good reason—it’s tasty and can be a great alternative to highly sweetened beverages. Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas. Most of the popular brands also include salt for taste. These drinks can be called sparkling water, soda water, seltzer, or fizzy water. Club soda is carbonated water with minerals added as well. These all differ from natural mineral sparkling water like Perrier or San Pellegrino. 


Unlike its soda counterparts, carbonated water has not been associated with low bone mineral density³. Look for brands that use natural oil essences for flavor. And choose sparkling waters that do not contain sugar or sugar substitutes. Drinking sparkling water in moderation can count towards your hydration goals.


In conclusion, proper hydration can ease many common symptoms and can be simple to achieve. And sometimes downright tasty! Being well hydrated can boost your energy and keep your digestion on track. Try some of these easy steps for proper hydration and see how much better you can feel. 


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About the Author

Karen became a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner after her own medical crisis and autoimmune diagnosis led her on a journey of discovering how vital proper nutrition is to feeling happy and healthy. She became passionate about helping others regain their energy and sense of well-being through food and lifestyle choices. Karen lives in Southern California with her family and can be found outdoors most of the time. She loves helping clients find the joy of creating delicious foods that nourish their mind, body and spirit. Read more about Karen.



The information presented on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any specific condition or disease, nor is it medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health conditions or concerns. One should always consult a qualified medical professional before engaging in any dietary and/or lifestyle change or new health program. Curated Wellness does not take responsibility for any health consequences of any person or persons following the information in this educational content.

References

1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/9013-dehydration

 

2.   https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086

 

3    Tucker KL, Morita K, Qiao N, Hannan MT, Cupples LA, Kiel DP. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):936-42. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/84.4.936. PMID: 17023723.

 

4    https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(21)00103-9/fulltext

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