For years health experts have been talking about drinking more water, but how much is enough? The answer of course, like many other health questions, will depend upon you, your lifestyle and any health conditions that may affect your ability to utilize additional fluid.

Before we talk about how much water we should be drinking, lets review why our body needs water in the first place. The human body is approximately 70% water. This percentage varies with age, gender and activity level – but the average is still very high. Many of the vital functions within our bodies require adequate water in order to keep up with the demands of daily activity. From cognition to digestion and detoxification to elimination our system needs water. If our relative water level drops, then all of these processes will be effected. This is no secret. Many of us have experienced a headache or malaise after a prolonged period of dehydration. Often, this can occur in just a few hours.

If a lack of sufficient hydration can effect our thinking and energy level in such a short amount of time, what other biological processes are effected that we may not be able to detect? Science indicates that proper hydration is integral in a number of essential functions within the body. The interaction that takes place between cells in most every tissue is conducted through the medium of some sort of aqueous solution, or in other words, water. Thus, the success of this vital transmission of information, nutrients and waste products is dependent on adequate levels of water. In essence, nearly every health-promoting process within the body relies upon sufficient hydration.

How much water should you be drinking? As mentioned, this will vary according to your circumstance and individual health status. And before you drastically alter your water intake you should consult your physician. However, there are a few indicators you can use to get a sense of your water needs. First, thirst. The latest research indicates that by the time we feel thirst we are already in a state of relative dehydration. This means we should be drinking water before we get thirsty. Second, urination. We can get a pretty good idea of water balance within the body by the frequency, amount and quality of your urine. Ideally, our kidneys will continuously be filtering impurities from our blood and eliminating them through the urine. Increased water intake will promote this process and increase its efficiency. This will result in increased urination, greater clarity in color and a milder odor. Third, bowel movements. Adequate water intake allows our digestive and elimination process to function efficiently. When we are properly hydrated we are more likely to have regular bowel movements that are free of any straining or discomfort.

Start by getting a reusable container that you can use to easily track your water intake. It should be large enough that you won’t need to refill it several times a day, but small enough that you will carry it with you. In addition, pay attention to the indicators of healthy hydration on a daily basis. Finally, discuss with your physician what level of water intake is right for you. Happy hydrating – you’ll feel the difference.