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Have you had too much to drink?

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Have you had too much to drink?

As in non-alcoholic drinks, that is. While it is well documented that we should all drink plenty of water, it gets a little murky when determining how much.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom recommends we each drink six to eight glasses of hydrating fluids per day. These can be consumed as sugar-free tea and coffee, lower-fat milk, fruit juice/smoothies or a crisp, clear drink of water.

That said, the NHS also says the amount of water each of us should drink is based on a series of factors like our health, age, size, weight and how much water-rich food we eat.

Our water intake is also governed, in part, by the temperature of our environment or our exercise levels. When we exercise more or the temperature is higher, we’ll need to drink more fluids to replace the water we lose as sweat. Additionally, drinking water is important to boost our immune systems during cold and flu season.

Our diet also contributes to the amount of water we should drink. Water-rich foods, like watermelon or cucumber, add to our fluid intake while salty foods like bacon or cheese use more fluids to dilute the added sodium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some tips to help ensure you're drinking enough water:

  • Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.
  • Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
  • Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories. For example, during the school day students should have access to drinking water, giving them a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.
  • Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.

It is worth noting, however, that you can have too much of a good thing. Hyponatremia is a rare condition that happens when we drink too much water and our blood’s sodium content becomes diluted. In short, we should drink when we feel thirsty, but not so much that we feel bloated.

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