How Much Water Should You Drink in a Day?

Are you consuming way too much or way too little? Let's find out. 

We know that you'd prefer wine, but it is water that makes up roughly 60 per cent of your body. And yes, consumption may vary from person to person, but we can all agree that it is absolutely critical to keep track of our daily liquid intake. "The body constantly loses water through the course of the day, through basic bodily processes such as urination, sweat, as well as breathing. Thereby, it is important to ensure that you drink enough water to keep your body systems functioning properly," explains Aakriti Arora, Nutritionist. 

In fact, apart from basic bodily functions, an individual's water requirement can fluctuate depending on their diet, activity levels, weather conditions, and sleeping patterns as well. "Many people tend to drink water only when their body signals thirst. This may leave them dehydrated since the body’s signal can be manipulated due to environmental factors such as sitting in an air-conditioned room. Plus, if you consume processed and packaged foods, your body will desire more water owing to the high sodium content," informs Lavleen Kaur, Co-Founder and Head Dietitian, Diet Insight.

So, the thing is, you lose water with practically everything that you do—even breathe. And if you end up drinking too much or too little, you can throw off your body's concentration of electrolytes. Besides, "water carries nutrients and waste products around our bodies, regulates our internal temperature, acts as a lubricant and shock absorber in our muscles and joints, and plays a major role in chemical processes taking place in the body as well. In fact, studies have found that those who are dehydrated are more vulnerable to bouts of mood swings, anxiety, and depression, as compared to people who keep themselves well-hydrated," says Arora. 

While experts commonly recommend eight glasses of water to keep up with hydration levels (the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests 2.7 litres a day for women and 3.7 litres a day for men), one has to work around this measure keeping in mind their own lifestyle. "Considering the hot-humid Indian climate, we tend to lose more water as compared to our western counterparts. Hence, we should increase the above guideline by at least 0.5 to 1 litre in a day, depending on our level of activity," adds Arora. 

Lavleen Kaur further states, "around 20-25 per cent of our daily water requirement can be met with fruits and vegetables, provided you are consuming a balanced diet. And apart from water, one can opt for alternative sources such as fresh coconut water and fruit or herb-infused water. On the flip side, caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee, and alcohol, can leave you severely dehydrated, so best to avoid them as far as possible." According to Kaur, the colour of our urine is one of the best indicators of our hydration level. Dehydration is often indicated by dark or coloured urine, while pale and colourless urine suggests optimal hydration. 

There's no escaping the fact that water is necessary for you. But that said, it should certainly be consumed in moderation. "Excessive water intake can cause electrolyte imbalance and can further contribute to bloating and internal inflammation in organs," claims Kaur. On the other hand, Aakriti adds, "when you drink way too much water it can disrupt the functioning of your kidneys and cause an imbalance in the levels of sodium. This can consequently result in fatigue, confusion, irritability, and even convulsions. Thereby, one must stick to a level of hydration that doesn't harm bodily functions."