I’ve heard so many people saying recently that their goal is to drink more water. I’ve also seen lots of posts on Instagram with the tag #stopdropandchug, which is when you need to drink water and take a picture of yourself doing it. This post is going to explore the latest water guzzling trend and if there is scientific evidence to back it up.
The Great Water Myth
You must drink X amount of water in a day to stay healthy
I remember reading something on the NHS website about needing to drink 2 litres/8 glasses a day. To achieve this target, people are buying special marked water bottles and there are apps to help you monitor your water intake. This seems very exact, surely there can’t be a one size fits all approach when it comes to how much water to drink as we are different shapes, sizes and sexes?
According to this article on the website ‘Today Health’: “We have a marvellous built-in hydration control. It’s called thirst, which works through multiple hormones and sensors in our vascular system.” The writer also emphasises the importance of not overdoing water as this too can be dangerous – In extreme circumstances you could even die from drinking too much as your body could not process it fast enough.
Another article discusses a review published online by the American Journal of Physiology by Valtin professor emeritus of physiology at Dartmouth Medical School in which he reports there is: “No supporting evidence to back this popular counsel, commonly known as “8 x 8”. This article and the original study also speculate that the 8 glass rule must have been something started by health organisations, but is not based on real scientific findings. Interestingly, Valtin also discusses the fact that hydration can be provided by fluids other than water including caffeinated drinks and diluted alcoholic beverages!
This article in the Guardian also quotes the original Valtin study – and adds: “We should all raise our glasses to Dr Margaret McCartney, a GP from Glasgow, writing in the BMJ, who has revealed what most doctors already know: there is no scientific evidence that we need so much water. None. At all.”
No one is denying that we need to drink water to stay alive/healthy. Who can forget the Bear Grylls Rule of 3: “3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.”, However – it turns out that our bodies are quite capable of regulating the amount of water we need to drink and signalling when we need to have more – Well done body! So please don’t stress yourself out trying to reach a fictitious target – There are enough other health issues to worry about!