Sunday, July 09, 2006

Eight glasses of water myth

Benedict Carey says:

For years we've been admonished to chug eight glasses of water a day--for our skin, for our weight, for general good health. But--surprise!--experts say that advice might not hold water.
Talk about a drinking problem.

Doctors say. "The notion that there is widespread dehydration has no basis in medical fact," says Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of the medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Doctors from a wide range of specialties agree: By all evidence, we are a well-hydrated nation. Furthermore, they say, the current infatuation with water as an all-purpose health
potion--tonic for the skin, key to weight loss--is a blend of fashion and fiction and very little science.
Consider that first commandment of good health: Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This unquestioned rule is itself a question mark. Most nutritionists have no idea where it comes from.
Kidney specialists do agree on one thing, however: that the 8-by-8 rule is a gross overestimate of any required minimum. To replace daily losses of water, an average-sized adult with healthy kidneys sitting in a temperate climate needs no more than one liter (about four 8-ounce glasses) of fluid, according to Jurgen Schnermann, a kidney physiologist at the National Institutes
of Health.
Try confusion. The way it's almost always stated, in books, magazines and newspapers, the 8-by-8 rule specifically discounts caffeinated beverages, such as coffee. This is flat wrong. Caffeine does cause a loss of water, but only a fraction of what you're adding by drinking the beverage.
That is to say, one cup of coffee equals about two-thirds a cup of water--if you're not a regular caffeine drinker. Regular coffee and tea drinkers become accustomed to caffeine and lose little, if any, fluid. The same goes for tea, juice, milk and caffeinated sodas: One glass provides about the same amount of hydrating fluid as a glass of water. The only common drinks that produce a net
loss of fluids are those containing alcohol--and usually it takes more than one of those to cause noticeable dehydration, doctors say.

Thirst Is Your Best Indicator
Robertson says that this mechanism almost always kicks in when we've lost between 1% and 2% of body water. "There's no evidence that this 1 to 2% decrease is harmful in any way," he says. "Thus, there is really no need to 'prevent' this slight decrease in body water by
drinking a specified amount in the absence of thirst."
"If you're a normally hydrated person, like you or me," says Dr. David Rish, a dermatologist in
Beverly Hills, "then drinking extra water is not going to do anything for your skin. If your skin is dry, and you're hydrated, the best thing to do is apply lotion."

Using Water as a Diet Aid
Perhaps most cruelly of all, there's no good evidence that drinking water significantly curbs
appetite. "I think that's mostly an invention of the diet industry," says Carolyn Katzin, a nutritionist in Brentwood who runs the American Cancer Society's nutrition program in California. "A better way to get water is in fruits and vegetables."
A couple of liters of drinking water certainly fill the stomach, researchers say. But you're just as hungry shortly thereafter; and once all that water flows under the bridge, you tend to eat as many calories as you would have without guzzling.

My personal views on the article -
My views differ a little, though I agree to most of the things mentioned in the piece. The suggested quantity not really applicable in the Indian context, where we have about 80% humidity most of the time. Plus each human being is different (similar to the 8hrs a day of sleep myth), so there is no common standard available. I believe the writer is a little biased against water, it definately has a lot of benefits which have not been highlighted by the writer. Try searching for benefits of water on the net and you will find contradictory research reports on benefits of water (from improving chances of cancer survival, helping diets, benefits during pregnancy......)
As regards me, I drink close to four liters of water a day and am doing quite good with it.


The Wager Witch said...

I think it depends on the person - the amount of water one should drink.

But I have just been told by my doctors to try and flush out my system by drinking a gallon of water a day!

I HATE DRINKING WATER. Ick yuck agggg.


Well - nice reading your blog and have a splendid day!

Wager Witch
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Girish said...

Thanks. I could not agree with you more. You have a great day too.

Anonymous said...

You are right Girish, water needs are personal and there is no one size/Qty that fits all. It is commendable that you drink 4 liters - I probably get 2-2.5 in a day - I have ways to go!
In any case, the good thing is water is the only thing that really quenches thirst and you get rid of it by perspiring and going to the rest room so most of us are not in any danger of having too much.
Keep such articles coming!


Girish said...

Thanks will do that.