For years, experts have recommended that adults drink eight glasses of water per day to stay healthy. However, this advice has been proven to be unfounded. Everybody is different, and their needs can vary from person to person. So what are your needs when it comes to drinking water? How important is it to stay hydrated, and what does that entail?
The Water Myth
It’s true that staying hydrated is essential to your health. But that doesn’t mean you need to guzzle water constantly, or drink when you don’t feel like it, in order to meet some arbitrary quota. In fact, there’s water in most of the beverages we consume, from coffee to soda and more. Some say that coffee will actually dehydrate you, but this has been found to be a myth.
H20 can even be found in fruits, vegetables, most prepared foods, and more. No matter what you consume, water is most likely entering your body and keeping you hydrated, whether you realize it or not. It makes up most of the world around us, after all. Forcing yourself to drink more of it than you want isn’t actually helping anything.
Furthermore, most people aren’t in danger of getting dehydrated over the course of an ordinary day. In any civilized society with access to clean water, the only time it’s a real danger is if you’re sick and losing large quantities of fluids from your body, that aren’t being replenished.
And even when that is the case, there are a number of easily identifiable symptoms that will manifest long before it becomes a serious danger. The first of these is simply having a dry mouth or being thirsty. If you’re not, then you most likely have nothing to worry about. Your body is programmed to keep you from dehydrating, no matter how many or few glasses you’re drinking.
Debunking Water Myths
The “eight glasses per day” rule of thumb began with a 1945 study that said people need a daily intake of 2.5 liters of water to stay healthy. However, it also went on to clarify that most of that could be found in prepared foods and wasn’t an admonishment for how much everyone needs to drink.
The myth is mainly perpetuated by bottled water companies who want you to keep buying their product. But if you do drink it, keep in mind that in most areas, municipal tap water is just as healthy and often better regulated than the bottled stuff. Buying it is just throwing your money away.
Additionally, most of the so-called benefits of drinking extra water lack scientific proof. For instance, it’s been said that those eight glasses a day can help keep your skin hydrated and healthy. That claim has in turn been expanded to suggest that water helps prevent wrinkles and keeps you looking younger. However, studies have failed to find evidence of any of this.
Likewise, it’s a myth that drinking water can improve your kidneys or help them function better. There is some evidence that it can prevent kidney stones from recurring in certain cases, but beyond that, it has little impact.
Actual Benefits of Water
All this is not to say that drinking water isn’t beneficial. Most experts, even while saying that you don’t need eight glasses a day, still recommend it over other beverages. Coffee has caffeine, which can cause a number of health problems, including anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach, and more. Likewise soda is full of sugar, calories, and more.
Water doesn’t have any of the unhealthy ingredients that are in other beverages. It has no fat, sugar, or calories. Drinking it instead of things like soda and fruit juices, can keep you healthier and promote weight loss. But forcing yourself to drink throughout the day in order to unlock some perceived extra health benefits has no basis in actual science.
Drink water when you feel thirsty. Be sure to have some with you when you’re working hard, doing some strenuous physical activity, or otherwise sweating a lot, in order to replenish what you’re losing. But don’t force yourself to drink water when you don’t feel like it. Your body will let you know when you need it, making sure you stay happy, healthy, and hydrated at all times.