How Much Water Do You Really Need? How Do You Know?  - Twice the Ice


How Much Water Do You Really Need? How Do You Know? 

Water is essential for life. But there’s some debate about how much water we really need, and how we know. Let’s take a look at these questions and some others, including how much ice you need to cool down, how to avoid dehydration, and more.

Do We Really Need Water?

First of all, do we really need water? Obviously we need liquids, but could we get the liquids that we need from our food or other drinks?

Our bodies are about 70% water, mostly stored in our individual cells. Without water, our cells can’t function properly. That includes processes like breaking down food, getting rid of waste and toxins, turning food into energy, and replacing cells that are old or damaged. Water is important for other essential body processes, including temperature regulation, comfortably moving our joints, moving oxygen through the body, and moving signals between the brain and across the spinal cord.

Water in other forms, such as water from foods or other drinks, can also fill this need. However, water from other foods varies a lot; raw potatoes, for example, are about 79% water, while a potato chip is only about 2% water. Other ingredients, like sugar, which can affect your health, also vary a lot; a drink like tea, for example, is 99% water with no sugar, while a cola is about 90% water, and a 12 ounce can contains 39 grams of sugar.

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How Much Water Do We Need?

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You’ve probably heard the “8 glasses of water a day” recommendation. Though the amount of water we need varies based on health, activity level, medications, outside temperature, and more, this isn’t a bad estimation. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that men need about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of water per day and women need about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) per day.

About 20% of these needs are covered by food. That’s about 2 or 3 cups of water per day (about .5 to .75 liters). So, you should be drinking between 2 to 3 liters or 9 to 12 cups of liquids per day. Most store-bought plastic water bottles are about 16.9 ounces, or almost .5 liters. So, drinking about 4 to 6 of these per day will give you enough water. Many of us will have a beverage about this size when we eat, and might have one more beverage before bed or in the morning. Depending on how much actual water is in this beverage, and how big the beverage is, you might be getting enough water. Or, it might not be as challenging as you think to get enough water. Adding one or two water bottles per day to your regular routine might help you reach your hydration goals.

How Do We Know How Much Water We Need?

Since our cells are about 80% water, and our bodies are completely made of cells, a lot of water needs calculations are based on body weight. However, different tissues need more water than others. For example, muscle tissues need more water than fat tissue. Our bodies also need more water when temperatures rise, and when we’re exerting ourselves. When working in the heat, it’s a good idea to drink at least one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

How Much Ice Do We Need to Cool Down?

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Temperature plays a big role in how much water we need. High temperatures can also seriously affect our health if we’re not drinking enough water or cooling down. Heat-related job-site deaths have doubled since the 1990’s. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are easily preventable with just a few precautions. It’s helpful to know how much ice you would need to stay cool in hot weather.

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When you’re working in hot temperatures, whether inside or outside, it’s important to stay hydrated and stay cool. Water and ice play a key role in avoiding and managing heat stroke. When working in hot temperatures, these general rules can help you and your team stay safe:

  • Make sure you have at least 1 cup of water available for each person every 15 to 20 minutes. That’s about 1 liter per person per hour, and about 1 gallon per person every 4 hours.
  • When heat illness strikes, it’s essential to bring down the victim’s temperature. A large, well-insulated cooler can keep ice cold for 12 to 24 hours. If you have a large team, keep several of these coolers on-hand.
  • Provide a shaded area where workers can rest, out of the hot sun, if they’re feeling the effects of heat illness.
  • Provide clear instructions and protocols for handling heat stroke. All workers should know what to do and what to look for to recognize heat illness.

So, how much water do you really need? About 3 liters. If you have more muscle, if you’re working hard, or if it’s really hot, you’ll need more. About 20% of your water needs will probably be met by the food you eat, and adding one or two extra water bottles a day might help you reach recommended water intake. Drinking more water is almost certain to help your body, so there’s really no downside to drinking more water!

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