By Art Espidol, MS, RD
Did you get your eight cups of water today? It sounds like a simple question,
but it says so much more!
According to the Mayo Clinic, “water is your body's principal
chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight.
Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes
toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides
a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.”
Something that most people have heard of, or are at least familiar with,
is the “8 by 8” rule. This is the rule that one should drink
eight cups of eight ounces of water a day. This is a good rule to go by,
but it really doesn’t have any studies to back it up. If you drink
eight cups (eight ounces each), that comes out to about 1.9 liters total.
The Institute of Medicine has determined that the adequate intake of water
for men is 13 cups (three liters) and nine cups (2.2 liters) for women, per day.
You are probably thinking, “eight cups doesn’t meet the recommendation.”
Well, many of the foods we eat and drink, other than water, also contain
water. The “8 by 8” rule should be seen as part of getting
to that goal of 13 cups or nine cups for the day. Think of it as an addition
to your normal diet, because on average, food will provide about 20 percent
of your overall fluid needs.
Once again, these are recommendations. The needs of a person will vary
depending on certain things - do you exercise? How long and intense are
your workouts? Do you live in a hot or humid area? Are you pregnant? Are
you sick or have certain health conditions?
If you work out, you might want to increase those eight cups by adding
1.5 to 2.5 cups per day, and if you are doing long and intense workouts,
consider sports drinks to help replace the sodium that was lost through
sweat. As for the climate of where you live, hot and humid weather may
cause a person to sweat more. So, an increase in water would be beneficial.
Lastly, if you are pregnant you might want to increase your intake to
10 cups per day, or if breastfeeding, up to 13 cups per day.
When it comes to being sick, you might need more fluid because of fever,
diarrhea, or vomiting, which can dehydrate your body. However, depending
on certain conditions, fluids might need to be reduced or restricted because
of heart failure or kidney disease. If this is the case, consult your
Despite following the “8 by 8” rule, you might be asking yourself,
“Am I drinking enough water?” Signs that you are drinking
enough water include rarely feeling thirsty throughout the day or if your
urine is colorless or light yellow.