Staying hydrated: the importance of drinking water

Jade Critchfield

Katie French’s New Year’s resolution is to drink more water.

French, a sophomore public health major, intends to drink about 64 ounces of water, or half a gallon, every day, the amount recommended by most nutritionists and health professionals.

Although people should drink 64 ounces of water per day, many do not. Between 2005 and 2010, American adults drank an average of 39 ounces of water on a daily basis, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Not drinking enough water can be an issue because it is necessary for basic bodily functions, said Tanya Falcone, coordinator for the Center of Nutrition Outreach.

“About three-fourths of that water is necessary for just proper functioning of when you’re looking at absorption, proper gut functioning, proper cell functioning, all of that,” Falcone said.

The other one-fourth, which is about two cups, goes toward breathing, sweating and moving one’s body.

The average student who has a nutritional consultation with Falcone only drinks about 16 to 20 ounces of water a day. She noticed that students tend to drink less water during the winter because they believe dehydration can only happen in the summer, which is false.

“This can cause symptoms of dehydration, which most people will ignore and think they are sick or just not feeling well,” Falcone said.

Common symptoms of dehydration include feeling lethargic, tired, ill, nauseous and foggy; fainting or passing out; a bright yellow urine color, increase in blood pressure or in heart rate.

Dehydration can also be the result of excessive caffeine consumption. More than 78 percent of adults consume above the recommended 200 mg of caffeine per day, according to a study done at the University of Kentucky.

“When I’m dehydrated, I tend to feel more tired and my mouth feels super dry,” French said. “I also tend to break out more and feel lazier.”

To offset the effects of drinking one 8-ounce coffee or one shot of espresso, one would need to drink at least one 8-ounce cup of water an hour after consumption, Falcone said.

Energy drinks can cause dehydration as well. For every one can of energy drink consumed, 16 ounces of water should be consumed after. 

“It feels like students are carrying more coffee cups than water bottles,” French said. “It might be because they don’t care or maybe it’s because they’re stressed. Either way, they definitely aren’t drinking enough water.”

Drinking enough water prevents frequent acne breakouts, provides more energy, improves hair health and aids in weight loss, Falcone said.

To meet the minimum of 64 ounces a day, Falcone recommends students carry a water bottle with them everywhere they go. She also recommends infusing water with fruit if plain water’s taste is an issue.

French hopes to accomplish her New Year’s resolution by carrying a water bottle to classes, drinking eight 8-ounce cups of water every day and limiting herself to two cups of coffee.


Jade Critchfield covers health and fitness. Contact her at [email protected]