Water, whether bottled or from the tap, is a healthy, zero-calorie drink that helps your body stay fully hydrated. Proper hydration is key for optimal body function, and not consuming enough water can lead to serious complications, including dehydration. Drinking a gallon of water a day is more than the recommended intake but will not have any harmful effects on your system if you are not dehydrated.
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A Gallon for Hydration
Water makes up more than 60 percent of your body weight, and without it, you would not survive more than a few days. All of your body’s cells and organs need water to run, and it also functions as a lubricant in your body. Excess water is removed from your body through sweating as well as urination. MedlinePlus recommends drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses per day. While a gallon of water is double the recommended intake, the excess will simply be excreted by your body.
Hot Weather and Skin Health
If you are exposed to high temperatures, whether in dry or humid conditions, you will likely require more than the recommended intake of water per day. This is especially true if you are engaging in physical activity in high temperatures. In hot weather, a gallon of water may be the minimum you require to stay hydrated. Johns Hopkins University states that how much you sweat is not an indication of dehydration, as dry climates may cause your sweat to evaporate more quickly, leading you to believe you are losing less water, which is not the case. Drinking water and staying hydrated also helps with skin health, encouraging healthy circulation and firmer, more elastic skin, according to a study published in 2007 by "Wound Repair and Regeneration."
Water and Peak Performance Ability
If you are engaged in any sports activity, you need to be hydrated before, during and after, consuming upwards of a gallon depending on the duration and intensity of your exercise in order to stay in top physical form. While staying hydrated is important during workouts, the American Council on Exercise recommends 7 to 10 ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise. In addition, hydration before exercising is just as important. Drink 17 to 20 ounces two to three hours before exercising to ensure your body is ready for the workout it is about to undergo. To stay hydrated, drink at least 8 ounces of water within 30 minutes of exercise and 16 to 24 ounces per pound of body weight lost while working out. This means that, assuming no weight lost, you would need to drink a gallon of water for a two-hour workout in order to stay adequately hydrated.
Dehydration and Water Intoxication
If you do not consume enough fluids, you will become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include nausea, a sore or dry throat or mouth, and a loss of appetite for food and fluids because you feel too ill. Causes of dehydration include excess sweating, fever, excess urination from medications or diabetes, diarrhea or vomiting. The opposite of dehydration is consuming too much water, leading to water intoxication. While water intoxication is rare, it can happen if you drink too much water too quickly. Drinking a gallon of water is safe if you spread it out throughout the day, but if you consume it in less than an hour, you risk getting water intoxication, which can be deadly. Water intoxication can happen with levels as low as 3 liters, a little less than a gallon, per hour.
- MedlinePlus: Water in Diet
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hot Weather Exercise
- MedlinePlus: Dehydration
- University of Virginia: Water Intoxication - Considerations for Patients, Athletes and Physicians
- American Council on Exercise: Healthy Hydration
- Wound Repair and Regeneration: Effect of Oral Hydration on Skin Microcirculation in Healthy Young and Midlife and Older Adults