Drinking Water - How Much?
Unless you live without ever watching TV, listening to radio, reading a newspaper, or surfing the internet, you must have heard that one "should" drink 8 glasses of water, 8 ounces each ("8X8"). Twenty years ago, one never saw people of all ages going around with bottles, drinking every few minutes. Bottles were reserved for babies, and even they would wait a few hours between feeding periods ... So what has changed? What breakthrough in research led people to conclude that their health depends on drinking? Why does one now need to spend so much more time in the bathroom returning this gift of life to the environment?
I believe that the bottled-water industry has been instrumental in spreading this myth. They are the corporations who stand to gain most from increased consumption of water. However, my opinions aside, it is the goal of this site to provide you with facts - results of published, peer-reviewed research; not my opinions! So what are the facts? Reference 1 presents results of a literature search throughout the medical databases, as well as extensive consultations with nutritionists who specialize in the filed of thirst and drinking fluids. The results suggest that for healthy people, there is no "8x8" water-drinking requirement. The review includes studies to examine whether cancer, heart disease and other conditions are impacted by drinking. These incidence of these diseases are decreased slightly in people who drink 4-5 glasses a day of liquids, but the the liquid intake may not be the cause of the decrease (for instance, it is possible that people who drank more in thiese studies, took better care of themselves in other ways, such as by diet and exercise, and these were the reasons for the decrease). Certainly there is no indication that 8 glasses of water are required. A study on dieting does not show a significant improvement in weight loss resulting from more drinking. Likewise, constipation, sometimes thought to be alleviated by drinking, is not discernably impacted by an extra intake of 4 to 8 glasses of water.
This reference also points out that there are hazards associated with enhanced water consumption. Hyponatremia is a situation where too much water consumption has resulted in the dilution of sodium and other essential chemicals in the cells of the human body. In the extreme, this can lead to death. Another concern is that more drinking of water leads to an enhanced consumption of pollutants in water - both bottled water and tap water contain bacterial and chemical pollutants that become absorbed in the body. Last but not least, bottled water is unnecessarily expensive, and at the very least, the frequent trips to relieve the water are a nuisance!
Last Modification - May 1, 2005