Hydration needs are highly individual and depend on many factors, including your body size and activity level. Many people follow the 8×8 rule, which recommends drinking eight 8-ounce (237-ml) glasses, or about half a gallon (1.9 liters)of water daily.
Perhaps surprisingly, about 60% of your body is water, and by scientific definition water is only considered to be water if the chemical composition is H2O. H2O is involved in managing your body temperature, carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells, and protecting vital organs and tissues. H2O is also needed for the excretion of waste products, joint lubrication, and keeping the tissues in your eyes, mouth, and nose healthy and moist. In fact, almost all of your body’s major systems depend on water to function properly and execute all the bodily functions without disruption. Your body knows when you are becoming dehydrated. When your water content decreases, your body tells your brain when and how much to drink — a process known as thirst. For most people, drinking when you feel thirsty and stopping when your thirst is quenched is a reliable way to maintain adequate hydration.
While there are no specific recommendations on how many glasses of water most adults should drink per day, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) sets recommendations for total water intake. The IOM suggests that most women meet their hydration needs when consuming 91 ounces (2.9 liters) of total water per day — from both beverages and food — while most men meet their hydration needs when consuming 120 ounces (3.6 liters) per day.
Certain medical conditions may require a restricted water intake to avoid fluid overload, which is when you have too much fluid in your body. Contrarily, other medical conditions may increase your water needs. Congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and people undergoing dialysis are some of the more common medical conditions that require fluid restriction. Other conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs), constipation, and fever may require increased fluid intake. Every person’s healthcare needs and conditions are unique. It‘s best to consult your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations regarding your fluid needs.
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