For proper metabolism, a normal human body requires about two liters of water. The health benefits of drinking enough water include preventing constipation, maintaining healthy skin, and avoiding pimples. However, drinking too much water, more than the body's requirements can result in water intoxication.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine of the United States determined that an adequate daily fluid intake for men is approximately 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) and for women approximately 11.5 cups (2.7 liters). However, any recommended amount must be adjusted for a variety of factors, health conditions, and nutritional needs. That said, the general rule for water consumption is eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Hyponatremia is a condition characterized by low sodium levels, which mostly affects endurance athletes and physically active people. This is induced by consuming four liters or more water in a few hours (rather than the entire day), lowering salt levels to unsafe levels. Overhydration, if left untreated, can lead to confusion, muscle weakness, seizures, and, in the worst-case scenario, death.
What are the common factors that may influence water intake?
Everyone should adjust their total fluid intake based on their daily water needs, which is influenced by the following factors:
- Hot or humid weather causes people to sweat and become dehydrated, necessitating increased water consumption.
- Health condition
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
Why should I drink two liters of water every day?
Water is required for all life processes, such as maintaining blood volume, regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients and waste products, metabolic reactions, and acting as a lubricant for the spine and joints. Therefore, drinking enough water to stay hydrated is critical to keep the body functioning properly.
Water consumption varies with people, however, regularly drinking two liters (68 ounces) each day is highly recommended for healthy individuals. According to research, doing so provides several advantages, such as:
- Alleviates constipation and diarrhea
- May decrease the risk of certain cancers, such as bladder and colorectal cancers
- May decrease the risk of kidney stones
- May improve overall skin health
People can avoid dehydration and its negative effects by determining how much water to drink per day, which is influenced by certain factors, the person’s body weight, and environmental concerns (temperature). Lethargy, dry skin, dizziness, physical deterioration, and even death can be among the side effects of severe dehydration.
What are the signs and complications of overhydration?
To avoid hyponatremia symptoms, a person with normal renal function should drink no more than 800 to 1,000 mL (approximately four cups) of water each hour. Dehydration and overhydration have several similar symptoms, such as:
When a person is dehydrated, their urine turns dark yellow, and when a person is adequately hydrated, their urine is lemonade yellow. However, when a person is overly hydrated, it is nearly clear.
Additionally, overhydration may, sometimes, have the following side effects:
- Disrupts electrolyte regulation, resulting in electrolyte imbalance
- May result in low sodium levels in the blood, causing the body's cells to swell and retain fluid
- Can worsen and lengthen the occurrence and severity of overactive bladder symptoms
- Kidneys become unable to eliminate the excess water, causing dilution of sodium in the blood and a chain of biological malfunctions
- Can cause cerebral edema (brain swelling), heart failure, and other organ failures, which can be fatal
- Extremely rare, but deaths from water-drinking contests and overhydration after participating in sports and military training situations have occurred
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World Health Organization. Water Requirements, Impinging Factors, and Recommended Intakes. https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutwaterrequir.pdf
WebMD. How Much Water Should I Drink Daily? https://www.webmd.com/diet/how-much-water-to-drink
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