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How much water do you really need?

June 10, 2008


I’ve read so many good research articles lately-I can barely keep up! Let me start with something that sparked my attention-how much water do we really need, and how did the eight X eight ounces of water a day advice get started?

I’ve always believed that we need to pay careful attention to advice given to us unless it is back by good research (and even then, sometimes you have to use your best judgment), and always ask WHY and then do further research yourself. To blindly take advice without researching or delving further into the why is quite ignorant, in my opinion.

I love water, and I do tend to drink quite a bit-some days less, some days more. I go with what my body tells me to drink and what it needs on a certain day.

I read an excellent article in Nutrition Action recently that Heinz Valtin, a physician and professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Physiology at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire wrote about water and how much we really need a day. His findings were quite interesting, and I’ll summarize them below:

1. After searching for 10 months with a professional librarian, he concluded that there wasn’t a single paper that gave any scientific support to the 8×8 recommendation. There was no evidence as to how it got started, but what he did find was that as far back as the 1940’s, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine made recommendations on dietary intakes of nutrients, and one of them was water. The board wrote that one milliliter of water per calorie be eaten, which would mean about 2,000 milliliters, or two liters, of water a day. (two liters=8 eight ounces of water a day).

2. Other drinks do constitute one half or more of daily fluid intake for many adults. “Diuretics”, which we know as coffee, tea, and alcohol, do not lead to appreciable fluid loss, and should count toward the total amount of fluid consumed (unless you are drinking copious amounts daily, which most of us aren’t).

3. The bottled water industry is making BILLIONS of dollars on the 8×8 myth. Bottled water is hotter than ever, and what a way to increase the sales of it-by intelligent, manipulative marketing.

4. Most bottled water is not healthier and comes from the tap. They take a lot of energy to produce, and they are not biodegradable.

5. There is no conclusive evidence that excessive water consumption helps constipation, helps people lose weight, or offers substantial health benefits.

Interesting, eh? Well, it’s definitely something to think about. I’ve always wondered about excessive water consumption myself. Do we really need to drink excessive amounts of water to remain healthy? Where is the science behind all of these claims?

And yes, I do believe that the bottled water industry is making a lot of big money from our being gullible and very susceptible to what they are telling us. In my opinion, go with what your body is telling you it wants.

With time, you’ll begin to know how much your body needs and desires. It’s a matter of staying in tune with your body, just as you would with food consumption. You must stay alert and aware. There is no need to go to extremes, to excess, just because clever marketing ads tells us otherwise. Be smart, use your best judgment, and drink as you please. But just don’t overdue it. It’s not necessary.

Until next time, be well!


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