There is a common myth that everyone should drink eight 250ml glasses of water for a total of nearly two litres per day.
How 'real' is this rule?
Ho do you space the intake out correctly?
What counts toward water consumption?
Can you drink too much water?
Well let me answer all of these questions.
Water plays multiple roles in the human body, including acting as a carrier of nutrients and waste, providing thermo-regulation, providing lubrication and shock absorbance, and acting as a solvent.
The regulation of water balance is necessary for health.
Yet given the importance of water, the truth is that water requirements are highly unique to each person.
Age, activity level, geography, diet, pregnancy, and other factors are determinants to each persons water requirements.
The “8x8” rule is outdated. Some research suggests the average adult should drink 50 ounces, or 1.5 litres, while other research argues that thirst is a good barometer of how much to drink for most people.
The bottom line is that water intake requirements vary by person.
The Institute of Medicine suggests that men should drink 101 ounces of water per day, while women should drink 74 ounces.
Given this stark difference between the Institute of Medicine’s figures and those of other research (and some research notes higher requirements), it begs the question of what counts towards water intake.
One article from the American Journal of Physiology notes that, in moderation, caffeinated drinks and mild alcoholic drinks (e.g., beer) may count toward the daily total (Valtin, 2002).
This is supported by other studies from Campbell (2007) and even the Institute of Medicine, which noted that alcohol intake does not result in appreciable fluid loss over a 24-hour period. In fact, beverages such as milk, teas, and juices are composed mostly of water but may not be as healthy as water.
It should be noted that you may already be slightly dehydrated by the time you feel thirsty, so it may be wise to sip water periodically, even if you are not thirsty. Dehydration can negatively impact muscular strength, power, and endurance, so it may be even more important to increase water intake before, during, and after exercise (Savoie et al, 2015).
Not to sound distasteful, but your urine should be clear to slightly yellow. If its dark in colour that could be a sign of dehydration.
While water is vital to your health, it can also be dangerous.
Water intoxication, which can be deadly, can occur if you consume water in excess.
This can occur if when drinking more than three to four litres in a few hours.
Symptoms of water intoxication include head pains; cramping, spasms, or weakness; nausea or vomiting; and drowsiness and tiredness. It is important to space out water consumption.
It is clear that even through evolution and research water consumption is still a specific and unique to everyone as their fingertips, and is not a one size fits all.
To recap, water is important for body functionality. It carries nutrients and oxygen, flushes bacteria and waste, aids in digestion, prevents constipation, protects organs and tissue, regulates body temperature, and maintains electrolyte balance. Guidelines to water requirements vary, but you should drink water to the extent that you are not thirsty and sip it occasionally when not thirsty.
Do not drink excessively.
Research via the Selanto