SEB Update: You still don’t need 8 glasses of water a day.

I first wrote about the you-need-to-drink-8-glasses-of-water-a-day myth back in August of 2002 and I was just reminded of it yesterday. The cause of my memory jog was an article on NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast that covered Five Myths About Drinking Water:

Myth No. 1: Drink Eight Glasses Each Day

Scientists say there’s no clear health benefit to chugging or even sipping water all day. So where does the standard advice of drinking eight glasses each day come from? “Nobody really knows,” says Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

Myth No. 2: Drinking Lots of Water Helps Clear Out Toxins

The kidneys filter toxins from our bloodstreams. Then the toxins clear through the urine. The question is, does drinking extra water each day improve the function of the kidneys?

“No,” says Goldfarb. “In fact, drinking large amounts of water surprisingly tends to reduce the kidney’s ability to function as a filter. It’s a subtle decline, but definite.”

It’s only taken six years for the experts to go from saying “I think it’s a myth” in the original article to it’s definitely a myth in the current one. I only mention this because I still get people who feel the need to tell me that I should be drinking more water whenever I mention that I’ve given up drinking diet pop. “You should really be drinking 8 glasses of water a day, ya know.” they say while sucking on the end of a plastic teat attached to the biggest damn water bottle I’ve ever laid eyes on. The only health benefit they’re getting from all that water consumption is from burning calories from having to sprint to the bathroom every ten minutes lest they piss their pants.

See the full article for the three other water drinking myths. My favorite quote is on how to know if you’re getting enough water: If you’re not thirsty, you’re fluid intake is likely “just right.”

6 thoughts on “SEB Update: You still don’t need 8 glasses of water a day.

  1. If you’re not thirsty, you’re fluid intake is likely “just right.”

    I’ve mentioned before a collegue who was thirsty all the time so drank more and more coke- and was then diagnosed with diabetes (Thirst being a symptom).

    The 8 glasses a day comes from the fact the body needs that equivalent every day.  However as most food (especially unprocessed food- fruit, veg, meat) contains liquid this all counts, as does anything you drink- including tea, coffee and alchol, th diuretic effects being outweighed by the actual liquid.  The only thing you shouldn’t drink if thirsty is sea/salt water.

    An obvious unhealthy lifestyle negates this (‘Bottle of Whisky-well thats a pint and half of my daily liquid’), but if your too stupid to realise this then that’s Darwin in action.

  2. Where does it come from?  A 1950’s Boy Scout manual I had around the house, I think. 

    However, there are a couple reasons drinking a lot of water IS good for you in some specific ways.  If you have a fair amount of soluble fibre in your diet, that fibre needs water to produce the desired effect.  And as a survivor of multiple instances of kidney stones, with permanent kidney/urinary-tract damage, I can recommend that you want your piss to be fairly clear, not deep yellow.

  3. This post reminded me of the health “warning” on my isotonic sports drink bottle (stuff that I really like every now and again, but feel guilty about because its all made by the Coca-Cola company):

    “When you feel thirsty, it is too late.”

    How is that for health advice? Drink our products to remain on top of your game and all that shit. Drink them as much as you caaaaannn!!!

    BTW: Did you guys know that some of the taste chemicals they put into these drinks these days make your taste buds think the drink is cooler than it is (and its true – one of the things I do like about these isotonic drinks is that they seem really refreshing when I get to work on a hot day, already all huffing and puffing from the heat and humidity. But I hadn’t known that kind of trick…)

  4. The reason I drink as much water as I do is to keep from drinking other shit. If I can quench my thirst with water and the occasional tea, I know that means I will drink less soda and other shit that isn’t healthy at all.

    So maybe the 8 glasses a day came from someone that wanted a general rule to keep people from drinking other worthless stuff?

  5. It should also be noted that a “glass” of water used to be 8 ounces.  That only adds up to 64 ounces of fluid intake a day, which isn’t an extraordinary amount.

  6. What dof said.  You gotta keep the pee on the clearer side. 

    64 ounces is only two quarts.  Most bottled water is 16 – 20 oz per bottle, so that’s 4 bottles at most for a whole day, if you get it from no other source.  It’s easy to go through 20 oz at one time if you’re exerting yourself.

    I’ve noticed that I can be fine if I’m not exerting myself, but if I go to exercise, I have to drink about 12 oz of water before starting.  Otherwise, I get some annoying dry mouth. 

    I’ve also noticed that if I haven’t had much water during the day, I seem to snack a little more due to the empty stomach.  Water does seem to help in distracting you from the little hunger pangs.

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