Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Much Water Do You Need To Drink?

How can you make sure you’re getting enough water for optimal health? Should you rely on thirst alone, or is it best to abide by the eight-glasses-a-day rule?

The truth is, either approach will probably work just fine — for the most part. But your water and fluid needs can vary, depending on your activity level, the weather and environmental conditions, even the medications you may be taking.  The consumption of caffeine and alcohol can also increase your body's demand for water.

Getting to know which situations are likely to increase your need for fluids can help you stay sufficiently hydrated. But don’t go overboard. There’s no point in drinking more water than you need, just for the sake of it. At the very least, you’ll end up running to the bathroom every 10 minutes. At worst, you could put yourself at risk of a life-threatening condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication.

Too Much of a Good Thing?  Under normal circumstances, a healthy body can process large amounts of water as long as it also has plenty of electrolytes, in particular, sodium. But the combination of too much water and not enough sodium can cause problems. Those at highest risk of developing hyponatremia are:

• Endurance athletes who lose large amounts of sodium through sweating and then flood their bodies with too much fluid as they try to rehydrate
• People with kidney problems

• People over 65 years old who take multiple medications or have health conditions that compromise the body’s ability to get rid of fluids or maintain adequate sodium levels

Although rare, hyponatremia can also occur as a result of unsafe crash dieting or binge beer-drinking.

I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man. ~Henry David Thoreau

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