This morning it was 2.4 degrees Celsius in Melbourne, the coldest June morning since 2002! Brrr! I can’t say the first thing I want is a big glass of cold, fresh water. I’d rather stay under the covers and drink lots and lots of green tea. But, I guess that’s not an option, so I jumped out anyway and combined my first cup of coffee for the day with a big bottle of water (tap water, filtered in case you were wondering). But how much water do we need and why do we need all this water? There are many opinions on this matter, as on everything else in the world. So, do we really need to drink all that water?
I think the most common advice you will get on water intake is; ‘drink 8 glasses of water per day’ or ‘drink at least 1.5 litres per day and an extra litre per hour of exercise you do’. I have also heard you should drink one litre of water per 25kg bodyweight per day. Plus the added extra for exercise of course. And if you don’t drink water and your body tells you it’s thirsty, it’s already ‘too late’ because then you are already very dehydrated. But why? Obviously we need water to survive, as the human body contain about 60-70% water. We actually can’t survive long without any form of fluid intake. But is it really true that your body doen’t have the capability to let you know when it’s thirsty and not when it’s ‘too late’?
We need water to help our kidneys flush out toxins from our blood. I though that was the kidneys job anyway? How much help does it need, and how much toxins is there? Can too much water start flushing out other things too, such as sodium (we actually need salt for survival, so put some delicious sea salt or Himalayan pink salt on your dinner)? Too much water is actually possible, but you probably have to be an athlete (going from being dehydrated after finishing for instance a marathon and then over hydrating) or an infant (drinking too much over diluted formula) to die from it. Your kidneys can also fail if they don’t get enough fluid, again doesn’t just happen to everyday people, but elderly, young children and bodybuilders (because they are simply dehydrating themselves on purpose.. Understand it if you can?!).
Drinking 8 glasses of water per day (or 2 litres) is a fairly new idea. I am sure there was no advice like this given from health workers 100 years ago. Where does this 8 glasses a day come from? I have had a little look around, and the first guy to mention this (as far as I can see) was Dr. Frederick J. Stare in his book Nutrition For Good Health in 1974 (not very long ago I see). But he didn’t just say drink 8 glasses of water a day, that should be sufficient. He wrote
“How much water each day? This is usually well regulated by various physiological mechanisms, but for the average adult, somewhere around 6 to 8 glasses per 24 hours and this can be in the form of coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, beer, etc. Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of water.“
I think there are two very important things we seem to have forgotten about this, when referring to the ‘8 glasses of water per day’ rule; He says it is usually well regulated by physiological mechanisms. And, the water doesn’t have to come from water, because there is water in everything else we eat and drink (he does mention beer there, I probably wouldn’t recommend swapping your bottle of water for a slab of beer, especially not mid week). I came over this two articles from 2002 and 2012, where they both researched and concluded the same thing; there is no scientific research that we need to drink 8 glasses or 2 litres of water per day. Surprise. The 2012 study by Spero Tsindos concludes with the following;
“Water is important for health; however, the recommendation of 8 glasses of pure water per day appears an overestimation of requirements. All fluids are important in meeting requirements and water should not be singled out. We should be educating the general public that beverages like tea and coffee, despite their caffeine content, do not lead to dehydration and will contribute to a person’s fluid needs, something worth considering when discussing fluid requirements.”
(Has a sip of her cup of coffee), did I mention this is from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. From last year, so I wouldn’t say it’s too outdated? So, the whole idea that we need to drink 8 glasses of pure water every day is actually just an idea. Coffee will only start to be a diuretic after about 7-8 cups of coffee (even I don’t drink that much a day), so it will actually help hydrate you (the caffeine might make you a little edgy though!).
Just to avoid confusion, I do agree that we need to keep hydrated, and I feel a lot better when drinking water every day (especially if I go fro a run) and I can notice a massive difference in my skin if I haven’t been drinking sufficient amounts lately. And yes, I do prefer water over beer or Coke when I am thirsty, because water is better for you in many ways. Just remember that there is a lot of fluids in fruit and vegetables, we are not all the same size or sweat equal amounts every day. We all live in different climates and there will be different requirements for different times of the year many places. So again, listen to your body. It is usually right. If you’re thirsty drink water, but if you feel like a cup of tea, have a cup of tea. And a slice of Watermelon (it even says water in the name, can’t go wrong!).
I did promise to tell you how to drink enough water in the header though, so here you go;
- When you are thirsty, drink water
- When you exercise, drink water
- When you go for a walk, drink water
- When you get out of bed, drink water/coffee/tea/milk/green juice
- Eat lots of vegetables and some fruit
- Oh, and when you are thirsty, drink water
I hope this was somehow helpful. If you got really thirsty reading this, I suggest you drink some water. If you drink a gallon of water a day and pee every fifteen minutes, do you think this is your body trying to tell you something??