Did you know that the Egyptians started brewing beer some 3000 years ago?
Winemaking dates back about 6500 years ago.
Do you know what we drank before then?
That was ALL we drank. Period. There was no soda, no juice boxes, and no Gatorade.
I talk a lot about our genetic requirements for health as human beings. It was the central focus of my postgraduate wellness training and it's a really interesting topic at least to me anyway.
It should come as no surprise that water is at the very top of those requirements.
- 66% of the human body is water
- 70% of human muscle is water
- 75% of the human brain is water
- 83% of human blood is water
Do you want to take a guess as to what Step #5 in my 10 Steps to Better Health is about?
Step #5 - Drink Lots of Water
Based on questions people ask me, people are confused by how much water they need to be drinking. It doesnt help that every expert seems to have their own (different) opinion.
I saw a news spot yesterday morning with their tips for beating the heat. They threw out the typical, broad-brush drink 8, 8-oz glasses of water a day thing. 8 glasses a day, really?? Do they even know why theyre recommending that much water? Let alone for EVERY person watching the morning newscast?
I don't think they do. It probably comes from the fact that most people lose about 2.5 liters of water a day from fun stuff like urine, feces, sweat, saliva, tears you get the idea. So some doctor looked at those numbers and, in a moment of sheer doctor brilliance, said that we need to drink the same amount of water every day to balance things out. 8-8 was born.
I sort of get that logic, but it still overlooks a few things.
The inside of your body is basically a watery, nutrient-filled soup filled with cells that also happen to be little globs of (mostly) water. So water is, naturally, pretty important to your cells. Since our bodies require water to be healthy, it makes sense that we should probably be drinking it on a daily basis. But how much is a healthy amount?
My answer sounds like a cop-out: It depends.
What I mean is it varies - depending on the person, the weather, etc.
- Is it hot outside? Drink more water than you normally would.
- Is the humidity like a sauna? Drink even more.
- Are you overweight? You need more water than someone whos not.
- Are you sick or injured? Drink up.
- Do you eat well? You may not need as much water. The water in fruits, veggies, and fresh meats also counts!
- Are you active? (be honest) Athletes require more water to replace the extra fluids they lose.
Most people, without any prodding from me, take in a decent amount of fluids during the day. The problem is, theyre taking in the wrong kinds of fluids - most of which are total garbage. Yes, people CAN get enough fluid from soda, coffee, tea, beer & Red Bull to keep them alive. But does that strike anyone besides me as problematic... and maybe a little bit dumb?
There is NO substitute for clean water, so drink it as often as you can. Youll get all the hydration without all the crap. Without replenishing your bodys need for clean water, you will never truly express health and your physiology WILL eventually start to suffer.
Remember, were NOT aiming to drink just enough to prevent dehydration or avoid illness... were trying to take in enough water to maintain health!
So I havent really answered the question: How much water do we need a day?
Simple When in doubt, let your thirst be your guide.
Water is so important that a long time ago your body got its own little quality control mechanism that tends to panic when you lose just 1-2% of your total body water. Let this happen, and watch your body politely trip an alarm that tells your brain you need to go drink something ASAP. It's called being thirsty.
Our thirst response is a really reliable physiological instinct that has saved us from dehydration for thousands of years. It still works... in case you were wondering.
So, if youre thirsty: Listen to your body and drink!
A few tips to help get more water today:
- If you're like me and can't drink water by sipping on a big bottle of it all day like some socialite at noon tea, take a bottle of water and chug it like a frat boy several times a day. This gives me instant hydration, and drinking a lot of water at once also suppresses my appetite. Its a win-win. Maybe it will work for you too?
- Want to replace lost electrolytes without all that extra sugar and neon artificial colors? You need to down some coconut water. It has electrolytes, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids (similar to blood)
- Dont drink 15 minutes before or after your meals. Why? Your stomach is basically a sack of hydrochloric acid. Dump extra fluid into it and you dilute the acid, making it harder to digest your food. Not good.
- Put a glass of water by the bed when you go to sleep. When you get up in the morning, down it, and then get started with your day. Drink another glass before you leave the house. Chug a couple of bottles at work in the morning. At lunch, drink a glass of water before you eat your meal. Repeat at dinner. One more glass before bed and youre good to go.
- If you still must have that soda, or beer, or Red Bull, drink an equal amount of water beforehand and you'll at least create some sufficiency first.