Drink Water for Your Health
Leslie Davis

“Drink more water” is an age-old piece of advice. But do you know why you should drink more water or how it helps your body be healthy?

Why We Need Water

Our bodies are made up of mostly water. A newborn baby’s body is 75% water and our adult bodies are around 60% water. Our organs require water to stay healthy. [1] [2] Drinking the recommended amount of water helps your body in the following ways: [1] [2]

woman drinking water

How Your Body Uses Water

So, you just finished drinking a glass of water. But what does your body do with that water now?

  • Water is necessary to help your blood transport oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and to your organs. [1]
  • Your liver and kidneys require water to help your body get rid of harmful substances. [1] [2]
  • Water helps our bodies to get rid of the extra sodium we eat. [1] [2]
  • Even our brain is about 70% water, which means staying hydrated helps us think clearly! [1] [2] [3]

How much water do we need?

Water needs are different for individuals based on body size, gender, physical activity level and body water losses. We get water from foods we eat and fluids we drink. In general, women need around 9 cups of fluid daily and men need around 12.5 cups fluid daily. [4]

Recommended Total Daily Water Intake: food & beveragesRecommended Daily Water Intake: fluid only
Men15.5 (8 ounce) cups12.5 (8 ounce) cups
Women11.5 (8 ounce) cups9 (8 ounce) cups

The amounts in this table are average amounts for adults ages 18 years and older. Water needs will vary depending on the person. [4]

Tips for Drinking More Water

Replacing Sugary Beverages with Water

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend that we limit added sugars to less than 10% of daily total calories. Sugar-sweetened beverages make up the largest percentage of added sugars in the typical American diet. [5] Replacing just one 16-ounce bottle of soda with a glass of water every day will save 210 calories. That adds up to a total of 76,650 calories each year! Small changes lead to big results.

Try these tips to cut back on sugar in beverages you drink:

  • Use only 1 teaspoon of sugar instead of 2 teaspoons in your coffee or tea.
  • Replace 1 soda or glass of sweet tea with water.
  • Start reducing the amount of sugar in your sweet tea by having ¾ sweet tea and ¼-cup unsweet tea. Then gradually reduce to half-sweet tea and half-unsweet tea. Next, try ¼-cup sweet tea and ¾-cup unsweet tea.

white tea cup filled with tea

The smallest of changes in what you drink each day can make a big difference in your overall health. Start by drinking one cup of water a day. Read our 10 Tricks to Stay Hydrated article for motivation. If you want to know if you are getting enough water, read our  Hydration Check-in article.


Written by Leslie Davis, MS, RD, LD, CDCES | Edited by the Nutrition Education Team

Posted: March 21, 2022

[1] Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center

[2] Oxford Academic Nutrition Reviews

[3] National Library of Medicine

[4] Institute of Medicine of National Academies

[5] Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.