The exact amount of water you need to drink every day, according to Harvard researchers

This article was updated on September 18, 2021.

Have you had a glass of water today? If the answer is no, go to your fridge and pour out a cold one from your Britta right now. Researchers at Harvard University say a recommended four to six glasses is standard if you’re in good health and you’d like to stay in good health.

What’s a good rule of thumb to determine your hydration needs?

Each individual has their own various and differing needs for avoiding dehydration to stay in tip-top condition. Staying hydrated has innumerable benefits according to The Harvard Medical School Special Health Report 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating and those positive net gains from total body hydration include the following:

  • Brings nutrients and oxygen to your cellular structures
  • Flushes bacteria from the bladder
  • Helps aid digestion
  • Stops constipation
  • Regulates your blood pressure
  • Normalizes your heartbeat
  • Protects and cushions joints, organs and tissues
  • Provides homeostasis in regards to body temperature
  • Maintains balance amongst electrolytes

Keep in mind different lifestyles, medications, health issues and age can affect the recommended fixed rate of four to six cups of water a day to glean such aforementioned benefits.

What are some extenuating circumstances in this case? Dr. Julian Seifter, a kidney specialist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School reminds folks:

“Water intake must be individualized, and you should check with your doctor if you are not sure about the right amount for you. Older people don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. And that could be a problem if they’re on a medication that may cause fluid loss, such as a diuretic.”

Doctors also warn people with underlying pre-existing conditions with their thyroid, liver, kidney, or heart problems to avoid drinking too much water as it could aggravate such issues.

Medications that make patients retain water are also urged to watch their water intake since pain medications, some anti-depressants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs hold excess water in their system already.

Over-doing hydration can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia outlined in more detail in this study next:

“Consuming too much water indicates the improper functioning of kidneys. Consuming water more than required can lead to unnecessary overloading on the cardiac muscles and can lower blood pressure,” adds Dr. Shikha Sharma, wellness and nutrition expert in New Delhi.

What are the symptoms of hyponatremia to look out for?

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache

This condition is pretty rare and if you discuss it with your primary care physician who knows your complete medical history you can come up with a plan together to decide the right amount of water intake for your individual needs.

For example, if you exercise daily your daily intake of fluids could call for more than four to six cups a day.

Physicians recommend two to three cups per hour if you’re sweating profusely due to high temperatures outside or that Crossfit session you did with your girlfriends in the park.

How can you stay hydrated if you don’t love H2O?

If you want to reap all the health benefits of ultra hydration while skipping the Poland Springs you can opt for tea, flavored sparkling seltzer, fruits, salad, applesauce, and yes, even beer. Such alternatives tend to be made up of enough fluids that when consumed in moderation add to your net hydration.