Water: How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough?

When I write articles on this blog it usually comes as a response to something the my patients are asking about or experiencing. This one is inspired by a comment on a recent post where I made a recommendation about how much water a person should be drinking. Here is the comment:

When I drink the prescribed amount (either the method you mentioned or 6-8 8 oz. glasses of water/day) I have to pee all the time. Seriously, like every 20 min. So it’s hard for me to stick to drinking that much water on an ongoing basis, because some days I need to get stuff done. 🙂 Is this normal?

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It’s a great question. The method she is referring to is as follows:

  • Make 90% of your fluid intake water every day.
  • Drink 1/2 of your body weight (lbs) in ounces of water each day.
  • I make this recommendation because the standard 8 cups of water can be confusing to people and it doesn’t take into account different water needs of individuals. Is 8 cups the same as 8 glasses or is it the measurement of 64 oz? If 8 cups is good for an adult is it also good for a child or the elderly? Water consumption based on body weight is much more flexible and should provide you with plenty of water each day.

    I know I’m beating around the bush and you’d probably like the answer to the question as well. Bear with me as I share a few thoughts on why hydration is so important to being healthy. Most people know that our bodies are composed mostly of water. Most of the chemical reactions that occur in the human body require water to happen. When the body is deprive of water baaaaad things start to happen including:

  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Pain
  • Cramps
  • Skin Problems
  • Fatigue
  • Kidney Stones
  • Fluid Retention
  • and more…
  • Some fluids hydrate you better than others. Few fluids rival water in terms of hydrating value and calorie cost. Water can also contribute to feeling satiated during and in between meals interrupting patterns of over eating.

    If you engage in endurance exercise (more than 30-40 minutes at a time) it is important to replace fluids you lose during exercise. A good practice is to weigh yourself before and after your activity. If you weigh less immediately after exercise it is most likely due to fluid loss. You should replace these fluids immediately by drinking water until you return to your pre-exercise weight. Some people think this is a real bummer because they want the scale to read low. But fat loss and fluid loss are not the same thing. Sustained fluid loss can actually make it harder to lose fat so let’s not get crazy, ok?

    Alright… Now we get to the answer to the question. One of the consequences of frequent hydration is frequent urination. This is a bigger problem for some people than others. Here are a few good tips to tell if you are getting enough water:

    1) The color of your urine. Under normal circumstances the more clear your urine is the better hydrated you are. Bright or dark yellow urine indicates a poor level of hydration. I say “under normal circumstances” because there are some medications or supplements that may discolor your urine.

    2) Skin turgor test. Pinch the skin on the back of your hand causing it to “tent up”. Hold this for a few seconds and then release. If it takes a while for the skin to return to its normal shape then this is an indicator that you may be dehydrated. Skin that snaps back into place is indicative of better hydration.

    3) Symptoms. Look out for symptoms of dehydration such as headaches, fatigue, dry mouth, thirst, muscle pain, and constipation.

    Your personal physiology maybe such that you can still do well with less than the amount of water in either formula mentioned previously in this article. If that’s the case then find the happy medium that satisfies the conditions above and limits your trips to the bathroom (although I think running to the bathroom is great exercise!)

    Getting the water you need is one of the quickest, easiest and least expensive ways to feel great and stay healthy. Find the right balance for you and your bladder and you will enjoy a lot of energy and great health.

    This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Kyle

      It may also be encouraging to know that the kidneys will eventually adapt to the increased intake and the frequent trips to the bathroom should ease up! Love to read your posts!

    2. Jason Young, DC

      Great point Dr. West! It can take a few days or even weeks but your kidneys will adapt.

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