Did you know that nearly 10-25 gallons of water rained down upon you during your shower this morning? Unless you took a bath in which you utilized a mere 70 gallons to soak yourself. Did you also know that you literally flush away the majority of the 80-100 gallons of water you use each day? That’s a lot of water for one person. But consider this: that single piece of white paper sitting next to you took 2.6 gallons of water to make. And before you feel too guilty about the 80-100 gallons that you're using each day, the rest of the country is doing their fair share to consume and utilize roughly 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day.
I think you’re starting to get the picture: water is essential to life and we use a lot of it. But these are just hollow facts without reasoning. I get that water is a fundamental element and that our earth is covered in it, but why does our body need it to function?
What happens when your body is dehydrated?
First, let’s look at what happens when you’re body is lacking water. Merriam-Webster defines dehydration as "an abnormal depletion of body fluids."
Your body is made of 70 percent water. So it’s not without reason that you feel like you’re wasting away when you’re dehydrated. In fact by the time you feel thirsty, your body has lost over 1 percent of its total water amount. Your body is constantly losing water, and is in constant need of replenishment. Your body loses water when you sweat, go to the bathroom, and even when you exhale.
There are varying degrees of dehydration and the correlating symptoms become increasingly more severe. Extreme conditions have resulted in a loss of 1-1.5 liters of sweat per hour. During these extreme conditions if the total volume of body fluid isn't replenished in time, blood volume may drop as well. This can have a fatal result if the blood pressure falls to low.
But a less severe level of dehydration can result in the following:
- reduced endurance
- unbalanced mood
- impaired concentration
- and other cognitive impairments.
Thankfully your brain has been wired with a subconscious mechanism called thirst! When your body's total water content drops below a certain level, your thirst kicks in.
How much water should you drink each day?
The health authorities have assigned an arbitrary rule to daily water consumption often called the 8x8 rule. This simple guideline recommends consuming eight 8-ounce glasses per day (about 2 liters or half a gallon). However, there is no solid science behind this rule and there are many factors that ultimately affect your need for water.
There are certain circumstances that require you to increase your water consumption such as exercise, hot weather, breastfeeding, sickness, and age. Studies have shown that your thirst mechanisms can potentially begin to malfunction in old age.
How long can you go without water?
Mahatma Gandhi once survived 21 days of complete starvation. However, water consumption is completely different.
70 per cent of your body is made of water and each and every one of your cells requires it to continue functioning. Additionally, water lubricates your joints, regulates your body temperature (through sweating and respiration), and flushes your body's waste.
Although the exact time has been debated, the maximum time an individual can go without water seems to be one week. However, certain conditions could dramatically shorten this time frame. And the more conservative estimate would place it at 3-4 days. According to Randall K. Packer, a professor of biology at George Washington University, the one week is "based on observations of people at the end of their lives, when food and water intake has been stopped.”
Yes, water is just as important as we think it is. You should be consuming it constantly not only to stave off thirst, but to ensure peak performance for your mind and body. Monitor your water consumption to ensure your are consuming proper amounts of water each day. And better yet, grab an Elemental stainless steel water bottle to bring along and never be caught thirsty again.
How about you?
How do you stay hydrated throughout the day?