Image of a man drinking water

The Water Dilemma: To Sip or to Gulp?

By now we’ve all had it drilled into our collective conscience that we need to drink 8 glasses of water per day in order to stay hydrated, no news there. Anyone concerned with kidney health also knows that not drinking enough water (which leads to low urine volume) is one of the major causes of kidney stones.

But what you might NOT know, is that when it comes to water, it’s not always a matter of how much you drink. When and how you drink can be just as important.

While some people love water and have no problem getting in their daily recommended dose, for others it can be a real challenge. Some prefer to “get it out of the way” by drinking a giant jug of water all at once and to be done with it, or move on to more exciting beverages such as soda, coffee, or alcoholic beverages. But research shows that we may want to rethink just how and when we consume our daily water intake.

There is no single best time of day to drink water. What some studies have found, however, is that when it comes to drinking, sipping is better than gulping. The reasons lie in the way our body flushes out water. If you’ve ever tried drinking a large bottle of water all at once, you may have learned this the hard way. Your body responds to this inundation of water by flushing out what it doesn’t need, resulting in frequent (and urgent) trips to and from the bathroom. If you sip smaller quantities throughout the day on the other hand, no such feeling of urgency should arise, and the body will process the water more efficiently and allow you stay hydrated at a more constant level.

While there is no right or wrong way to drink water, here a few tips that can help you find your ideal balance:


Early Morning

By starting the day with a glass of water, you flush your organs with the fluids they need to function at their best.

Mealtimes
Doctors recommend drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal, another during the meal itself, and a third glass 30 minutes after a meal. By drinking water before a meal, we accomplish two things: 1) we avoid overeating, and 2) we hydrate the stomach and intestines to create an ideal environment for digestion.

Exercise
The more we sweat, the more water we need to drink in order to replenish the fluids in our body. If exercising in higher temperatures, this is especially important.  Hydration and kidney stone prevention becomes crucial at higher temperatures, even when we are not exercising.


How do I know if I’m drinking enough?

Here are 3 simple ways to tell if you are getting enough water:
  1. Your urine is colorless or light yellow in color
  2. You rarely feel thirsty
  3. You urinate at least 4-6 times per day, with a stream that lasts about 7-10 seconds
To learn more about kidney stone prevention and treatment options, click here.
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