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How much water should we be drinking each day?

Digital headlines: Afternoon of Aug. 2, 2022
Digital headlines: Afternoon of Aug. 2, 2022 01:11

MINNEAPOLIS - It's important to quench your thirst this week as temperatures soar, but no matter how hot it is outside, our bodies need to stay hydrated.

How much water should we be drinking each day? 

"This is one of those days where even if you don't feel thirsty, it's really good to hydrate, so I'm glad you gave it to me," said Dwayne Polk after was gave him an ice-cold bottled water on Tuesday as the temperature crept past 90 degrees.

How much water should we be drinking per day? Nearly everyone we talked with near Bde Maka Ska answered with eight glasses of water.

Some scientists recommended much more. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said men need to drink about 15.5 cups per day (3.7 liters), while women should drink about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters).

The actual number necessary though is fluid.

"There's not even an exact amount, although a good place to start is that old myth of eight cups a day," said Dr. David Hilden, internal medicine at Hennepin Healthcare.

He said people who aren't very active are fine to drink under eight cups. But if you work outside on a hot day, or plan on exercising, leading to excessive sweating, he suggests people dramatically increase whatever it is that they're drinking, ideally water.

"Maybe you're an older adult, maybe you're pregnant, maybe you're ill. Those folks do need probably more than eight cups a day," he said.

How else can people get water without drinking it? Foods come to mind, specifically fruits and vegetables.

"Twenty percent of your water comes from food," said Hilden.

Other drinks, like tea, coffee, and beer, contribute water as well. The downside to some of those drinks however is they aren't healthy. Alcohol or pop are often high in sugars, carbs, and caffeine.

Can someone hydrate by just jumping into a pool?

"You can't get hydrated from just getting wet. It does have other advantages,"  Hilden said.

Swimming can cool your body down, which in turn makes you sweat less and slow down dehydration.

Speaking of perspiration, Hilden said people do it much more than they realize.

"It could be a Minnesota day in January, you're going to lose nearly a gallon of water through what we call insensible losses: perspiration and breathing," he said. 

Our bodies will naturally perspire water to stay cool, but not in the same fashion as sweating during a workout.

We lose even more liquid from using the bathroom. That's also a good to measure if you're dehydrated.

"Light yellow urine, you're good. Anything darker than light yellow you need to dramatically increase your fluid intake," he said.

Rather than worry about how many cups you've drank or need to drink each day, Hilden said the most important thing to remember is to simply drink water when you're thirsty.

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