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Why is water essential?

Did you know the human body is made up of over 70% water?  “Water is essential for life (Popkin et al., 2010).” We don’t have the ability to store water, so it’s important that we replenish it each day.

Water helps our bodies with basic functions such as controlling energy intake, which assists with weight management. It also helps with biomechanics and how signals in our brains are sent or received. Water does more for us than we realize, however, according to the latest survey, U.S. adults drank on average 39 ounces of water on any given day and youth (0 to 19 years old) drank 15 ounces of water (Drewnowski et al., 2010). For an adult, that’s about two or three water bottles, for a child that’s just over one.

What factors impact water needs?

Previously, water intake recommendations were about eight cups of water a day or 64 ounces. However, there is no definitive research that declares how much an individual should consume (Popkin et al., 2010). Similarly to caloric needs, water or hydration needs are unique to the individual and can be impacted by many factors like those listed below.

  • Environmental temperature: On a hot day you may be thirstier because your body is working on cooling itself down. While the body will perspire to cool down, thirst cues will be activated to rehydrate as you sweat.
  • Atmospheric pressure changes: Have you ever had swollen feet while flying? That’s because atmospheric pressure changes can impact how our bodies retain and release water.
  • Eating more salty foods: While many of us may have that one salty food that we love, it can impact how much water we need, even just for that day. One snack or meal won’t necessarily require a huge increase in water intake, however, more salt does mean that you have the potential to dehydrate faster.
  • Exercise: Just like temperature, exercising increases your body temperature causing you to sweat to cool down. This also dehydrates you requiring that you consume water or other hydrating fluids to replenish.
  • Alcohol consumption: Alcohol is dehydrating beverage because decreases the body’s ability to products anti-diuretic hormone.

Aside from these factors, hydration needs are based on age, body size and health status (Thompson & Manore, 2015). Below is guide that may give you an idea of what your hydration needs are. Keep in mind that this is a general range and you should try to pay attention to your own body’s cues. Maybe even keep a notebook or type into your phone how you’re feeling at certain times of the day depending on your water intake.

  • Sedentary in a cool environment: 2 to 3 liters per day
  • Active in a cool environment: 3 to 6 liters per day
  • Sedentary in a warm environment: 3 to 5 liters per day
  • Active in a warm environment: 5 to 10 liters per day

So, what happens if you don’t drink enough water?

Under extreme circumstances you can become dehydrated and basic functions can become inhibited such as properly cooling down, clear vision or muscle spasms. Dehydration increases our risk for heat illnesses significantly. Dehydration can also lead to gastrointestinal illnesses (Thompson & Manore, 2015).

We can also obtain water from the foods we eat. Fruits and vegetables have a lot of water content that can contribute to our hydration needs.

 Can you drink too much water?

Actually, yes. Overhydration is very rare, but it can occur. Overhydration causes blood sodium to become diluted, which can lead to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting. Again, just like dehydration, overhydration is an extreme and doesn’t occur regularly.

The importance of water after an adjustment or massage

In the office, you often hear Dr. Cao or our massage therapists Kim and Tegan suggest that you “drink your water” after a visit, have you ever thought about why?

Just like exercise is tough on our muscles and joints, so can an adjustment or massage. Our bodies have a natural filtration system found in the kidneys and liver, which helps us recycle lactic acid (one of the byproducts that contributes to temporary muscle soreness or muscle fatigue), but for these organ systems to function optimally a healthy water intake is necessary (Thompson & Manore, 2015).  Being properly hydrated can assist with inflammation that may occur post-visit as well.

We know it may be hard to incorporate more water throughout your day into your routine, but just like stretching, we recommend setting a timer so that you can check in with yourself periodically. Especially during summer months, hydration is very important to maintain a healthy body.


Drewnowski A, Rehm CD, Constant F. Water and beverage consumption among children age 4-13y in the United States: analyses of 2005–2010 NHANES data. Nutr J. 2013;12(1):85.

Drewnowski A, Rehm CD, Constant F. Water and beverage consumption among adults in the United States: cross-sectional study using data from NHANES 2005–2010. BMC Public Health. 2013;13(1):1068.

Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition Review, 439-458.

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2015). What kind of diet supports physical activity? In J. Thompson, & M. Manore, Nutrition: An Applied Approach (pp. 440-475). San Francisco: Pearson.



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