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My patients ask me all the time how much water they should be drinking each day. It’s a good question. Generally speaking, you’ll feel and look better when you’re well hydrated. Your kidneys will more easily be able to flush out waste products and environmental toxins, and your skin will have a healthy glow.
What’s surprising is how often routine lab tests show that people walk around in a mildly dehydrated state. I return lab tests to patients with my comments, and by far the most common is “Everything’s fine except it looks as if you need to be drinking more water.”
Your water requirements, at minimum:
• six 8-ounce glasses per day if you’re under 50
• seven 8-ounce glasses per day if you’re over 50
• eight 8-ounce glasses per day if you’re active (also recommended!)
Many people get fluids from soft drinks, diet drinks, and coffee. The first provides unnecessary sugar, the second chemicals, and while I’m not opposed to coffee, it acts as a mild diuretic (water pill) and, like alcohol, in the end dehydrates us.
When you’re well hydrated your urine will be nearly clear.
Here are some tips for staying hydrated:
1. Spread your consumption throughout the day, carrying a water bottle with you for steady sipping.
2. If you can’t handle all that water, substitute some noncaffeinated herbal tea–hot, tepid, or iced. Enjoy it plain or sweetened with a little honey or stevia. Some of my patients keep a couple quarts of herbal tea in the fridge and fill their water bottles with it each morning.
3. You’ll need more water after exercise–ideally before and after.
4. Slow down your intake in the evening to prevent nighttime bathroom trips.
5. Some people don’t like the taste of water, perhaps stemming from the water they grew up on. If you’ve never tasted pure fresh water, try several brands to see which is the most appealing. Water temperature also affects flavor–try your favorite at different temperatures to see if the situation improves.
6. Lastly, try flavoring your water. European restaurants routinely squeeze a wedge of lemon into the water carafe served with meals. Try this, or a wedge of lime or orange. A drop or two of a flavoring extract per bottle of water can produce similar results.