How Much Water To Drink A Day By Your Weight "I Never Drink Water!" – So, Are You Dehydrated?

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"I Never Drink Water!" – So, Are You Dehydrated?

It’s almost a matter of pride, isn’t it? From the hard drinker to the tea snuffer, from the coffee addict to the cola kid, ‘water’ is a dirty word.

Are humans really among the rare few mammals that need very little water to survive? After all, unlike desert creatures, we have no built-in water conservation mechanism. If you’ve read the early Dune sci-fi books, you’ll have seen what could be done to get us that way – ‘still suit’ – but it’s hardly real. No, we are not built for low water intake at all.

So why do so many of us think we can get by on a few pints of liquid a day and even drink it with diuretics like alcohol and the caffeine in cola, tea and coffee? I don’t think we think about it. We only think about convenience. Going to pee is an inconvenient waste of time, so it seems sensible to avoid a lot of fluid intake. But there is a high price for saving those few minutes every day.

If you are one of those people with low water intake – and there are so many – you will be surprised how much more alert you become and how quickly the ‘sluggish’ feeling goes away when you start drinking properly. The doctors don’t beat it for no reason!

Our miracle poison eliminators

One of the fastest ways to attract serious bodily breakdowns is to stop the elimination of toxins. Our bodies are constantly making waste. It is part of the condition of being alive. Feces is the obvious one; so is breathing (it dumps carbon dioxide); and sweat is another, the disposal of salts and some other chemicals.

Urine is also an important waste receptacle. It is the end product of a complex chain of processes that starts with waste disposal from every cell in our body. Just by living and doing their job, all our cells absorb nutrients and oxygen and dispose of waste like lactic acid directly through the cell wall. Our blood and lymphatic systems drain this away for processing in the liver, and our kidneys extract the waste from the liver, store it in the bladder and pump it out periodically. Fine, so far.

Water is essential for health

The thing is, all of these processes depend on an adequate water supply to function. Dehydrated cells cannot excrete toxins properly. One result is muscle cramps. Another is a poor ability to think straight as your brain fails. Why? Low water levels in our blood and lymph systems are very dangerous, and your body will draw this water from almost anywhere else in your body to maintain the blood functions without which you will soon die – especially cleaning waste from all the cells in your body. And if, like most of us, you eat a high-salt diet, your body needs even more available water to maintain the hydration balance between blood and cells. Or again, you die – painfully.

Concentrated urine is an early symptom of dehydration, and it can cause all kinds of malfunctions, including kidney and gallstones. Birds have a mechanism to suck out almost all of the urine’s water, giving the familiar white missile on your head! But we do not have such an ability. When our urine becomes too concentrated, it is a sign of trouble.

A classic result of dehydration is these hallucinations (all those ‘lost in the desert’ stories) as your brain is deprived of water to keep the rest of you alive. Oh, and if you’re dehydrated, you’ll also have digestive issues, mainly constipation.

But we don’t have to go too far down this road to be disadvantaged by dehydration. An early symptom is loss of concentration as the water is drained from our brains to keep everything else going. It can actually be expensive. Migraines and headaches are another. So if you want to avoid pain or lose money due to bad decisions or the risk of an accident, keep hydrating – drink!

How much water should I drink?

It’s easy to do: follow the well-known doctor’s advice to drink seven glasses of water a day. You will find that you become more alert, feel fresher and maybe the headaches and migraines you get under stress will magically disappear. And of course you have to pee more often – but that’s natural and healthy!

The water can be any drink with water in it, it is not a diuretic (see above). So soup, milk, fruit juice, herbal tea and so on all count. Water in your meals does not, unless they are very watery, and do not forget to count the calories in these drinks as part of your food. It’s not my fault if you get fat! And drink steadily throughout the waking day — not liters at a time!

Perhaps you want more specific guidance? Here are three easy tips to help you drink the right amount of water:

TIP ONE: Calculation of the daily water requirement

Calculate your optimal water intake using one of these simple rules – you only need to do it once.

  • in pounds, drink half an ounce of water daily per pounds of your body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 150/2 = 75 ounces of water a day. That’s just under 5 pints US, rather less than 4 pints Imperial.
  • IN kilo, drink 3/100ths of your weight in water every day. So if you weigh 70 kilos, drink 70 x 3/100 = 210/100 = 2.1 liters (same as kilos) of water every day — a good 2 litres.

It may look like a lot of water, but it’s not! Most mammals voluntarily have a similar water intake. It’s only people who stubbornly resist drinking just for short-term convenience and despite getting the natural ‘thirsty’ cues. You can see below how little it is every hour.

TIP TWO: Spotting Dehydration

First, look for a loss of concentration. If you’ve forgotten to drink within the last hour or two, you’ve probably found the reason. But also generally keep an eye on your urine concentration. Most people’s urine is deep yellow and this is considered normal. But most people are dehydrated! A simple motto is, PEE PALE. It’s that easy. Except maybe the first time you go during the day, or if you’re sick or consume something toxic like whiskey and detoxify quickly, you should expect your urine to be a pale straw color. If it gets stronger, a certain deeper yellow, drink! It really is that simple. And yes, you may have to look into the bowl to check. Not really that bad, right? I bet if you’re a man, you’ll find yourself looking over in the next public toilet stall – just to see what color it is… Betcha!

TIP THREE: The daily balance

Your body is naturally good at maintaining a water balance – if it is not as badly dehydrated as many Westerners are. If you’re slightly dehydrated, your kidneys will allow less water, which contains a stronger concentration of waste, into your bladder—that’s where the brighter yellow pee comes from.

Suppose you don’t pee even when you get the signals that your bladder is full and you need to (a gripping, 3-hour movie? Watching a long run?), or suppose you’re really dehydrated and lacking water. Then your kidneys stop processing waste – and the level of toxins in your blood starts to rise. Many people are at the high level of toxins all the time, and concentration and bodily processes like efficient digestion and waste removal from your cells begin to deteriorate.

If, at the other extreme, you have a lot of water in your blood, the bladder fills up quickly. You should pee more often and your pee will be very pale.

Within the limits, you can cope with quite a large difference in water intake without any problems. But if you severely over- or under-hydrate, you will get pathological conditions.

You will function best if you have a regular intake of water – just the right amount every hour you are awake. So aim to drink your daily optimum of water evenly throughout the waking day. (When you sleep, the system shuts down pretty well anyway, so a tall glass of water is a good first thing to do when you wake up).

Let’s say you’re a 130kg, 150lb guy and your optimum is around three liters a day. If you’re awake 16 hours a day, that’s about 200 ml (about 7 ounces) every hour, and for one hour you eat a meal that’s mostly water – eg. fruit or soup. If you are a slim lady and you need two liters a day, make it about 150 ml per hour (about 5 ounces). Now, even if you are one of the dehydrated majority, that doesn’t sound like an impossibly large amount to drink, does it?

If you find you’ve become dehydrated or you realize you’ve forgotten to drink for several hours, drink an hour’s worth immediately, then another in 20 minutes to half an hour. It will get you back on track and your body will rebalance pretty quickly. What you must not do is try to make up for all the missed fluid. You’ve already adapted to its loss, and drinking that much at once will overhydrate you.

Be sensible about managing your water balance

These are pretty rough numbers in tips 1 and 3, so don’t get too rigid about it. (You may have noticed that the conversions for pounds and kilograms aren’t exactly the same, but they’re easy to figure out.) If you drink twice as much as shown, you’re overworking your kidneys—not a good thing. If you drink half, you are quite dehydrated. Be sensible about it.

If you drink diuretics, you force your kidneys to process more water than you should, causing you to urinate too often. The result is that you need to drink more to stay hydrated. The most common diuretic drinks contain stimulants like caffeine and taurine, or alcohol, or maybe both! So anything highly alcoholic, especially shorts, liqueurs and wine, will need water to balance it out. So will tea, coffee, chocolate, cola and sports/energy drinks (eg Red Bull) — and the stronger they are, the more water you’ll need to balance them out. They all contain poisons and will still cause a detox effect, so it is not easy to assess the right balance. Weak tea or coffee, or most colas, don’t need much water to balance. Strong things like extra strong tea, coffee shorts and taurine kick sports drinks may need more water than the drink itself to balance. Italians don’t drink water with their coffee shot for nothing!

One last point: If you sweat freely, the rules are different. I’m thinking about extreme conditions, like being in a blood temperature, humid environment, or working hard in a very hot environment, or working super hard anywhere. Examples are: long-distance runners, cyclists and swimmers; underground coal miners; oven men; shot blasters in fully remote controlled air gear, sugar cane cutters. Under these conditions, you can quickly excrete more water than your body can afford to lose. You can also lose too much salt, one of the few situations where you can become salt deficient. The answer, just as the heavy sweating is happening, is to drink extra water to compensate for the sweat loss, with a pinch of salt added to each liter. No need for expensive specialty drinks – if you need sugar to top up blood sugar, use honey or a low acid fruit juice (eg melon) in the water. There is no stimulant poison in the home brew and you know what you are getting!

Overall, your approach to hydration should be simple: Be sensible. Tip 2 is your common sense guide – pee pale!

Good to drink!

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