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Water and hydration

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 9:46 AM

How much water should you be drinking?  This is a question that will vary depending on who you ask.  There are a few guidelines that I use to help my patients figure out what is best for them.  The first is a concept that I use for myself.  

It comes from the analogy from my childhood watching My Cousin Vinney. Marisa Tomei’s character in the movie is in a heated exchange with Joe Peshi’s character and she says something like, “imagine your a deer and you bend your head to drink some water in the stream.  Then bam some guy blows off your head.  Would you care what color pants the guy that shot you was wearing.”  It is a super funny moment in the movie amongst many others, but the aspect of this analogy that I think of is that a deer finding a stream of water doesn’t have a gallon jug that must be consumed regardless of thirst.

There are arguments out there for why it is beneficial to drink past thirst, and one that is for sure valid is that, salt and potassium balance can affect how thirsty you are.  For example if you eat a ton of potato chips that are very salty it will tend to make you drink more water via thirst, or at least it should.

Electrolytes that help balance salt and potassium can help balance thirst and help one get back to having the right signal for how much water one needs.  Here is a video from Dr. Berg about potassium and its relationship to other electrolytes and how these compounds work together for having the correct fluid balance in your body.

So assuming that your electrolytes are balanced my recommendation is, “...four to six cups of water for women, and five to eight cups of water for men."

This recommendation is what I have discussed with my patients for nearly 14 years now, and Harvard’s latest study agrees.  You can read more about that study and other findings related to water coming from foods and other fluids in this article from The Healthy.


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