Ask Dr. Nandi: Do you need 8 glasses of water a day?

Posted at 5:47 PM, May 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 17:47:28-04

We’ve all heard it’s important to get 8 glasses of water a day, but do we really need that much?

How much water you need to drink is actually dependent on a few things.

You likely know to drink more water when you’re exercising or if it’s hot out. 

But believe it or not your size and metabolism also play a role.  

You’ll need more water if you weigh 250 pounds versus someone who weighs 150 pounds. And if you have a fast metabolism, you’ll also need more water than someone whose metabolism is slow. 

Your diet also needs to be factored in.  

Many fruits and vegetables contain water – with cucumbers, apples, spinach and watermelon being high-water-content foods.  

So what you eat can add up and affect your fluid needs. 

So how do you know how much water to drink?  

It’s important not to rely on thirst alone. What I recommend is that you check your urine.  

You want it to be almost clear.  

If it has a strong odor or is dark yellow then it’s time to drink a couple glasses of water.  

Despite the fact there is no magic formula for hydration, there are some general guidelines for how much water to drink in a day, and I’ve included them in my prescriptions:

  1. The National Academies of Sciences suggests around 11 cups of water a day for women and 15 cups for men.  But remember, everyone is different and what you need varies depending on your weight, physical activity and general health. 
  2. If you’re sick and have a fever, you can lose water through sweating or diarrhea.  So please drink more fluids that contain water, salt and sugar so that your body stays balanced.
  3. Milk, juice, teas and coffee count towards your total water intake.  But I’d prefer that you get the majority of liquids by drinking water as it’s healthy and calorie-free. 
  4. Although it’s rare to drink too much water, be careful that you don’t overdo it.  It could cause a dangerous condition called hyponatremia, where sodium levels become too low.

But for a lot of people, getting enough water is a daily struggle.  And we need it for every single body function.  

It carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells, flushes toxins from your organs, improves short-term memory and also keeps your digestive tract moving.  

So be sure you get the right amount that works best for you.