Moment of Science: 8 Glasses of Water

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From healthy skin to detoxification to weight loss, many of us have heard the benefits of drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day…but today we’re sorting through the truth and the fiction.

*We can start with the thesis statement… You don’t have to drink 8 glasses of water a day, even though the premise is based on good science, if not a little. In the year In 1945, the US Food and Nutrition Board recommended that adult men consume 2 to 2.5 liters of water per day, which equates to an average of 8 glasses of 8 to 10 ounces each. Most people don’t know that there is a second half to that statement: “Most of this amount is found in processed foods.” That’s right…the water in the food you eat counts towards that number! One of the many benefits of eating your fruits and vegetables, most of which are 70-90% water. Interestingly, cucumbers have a water content of 96%, compared to less than 92% water.

*Contrary to popular belief, tea and coffee are not only dehydrating, but count towards your water intake. It is true that caffeine has a diuretic effect that can cause a lot of urination, but clinical studies have confirmed it There are no significant changes in pure moisture…Unless I drop you one every waking hour.

* Don’t forget that you yourself are 60% water… and if you go out by just two percentage points, here comes headaches and cramps and fatigue and all that fun stuff. We excrete a little bit of it through our breath, sweat, and urine, and that’s what you replace day after day, hour after hour.

* Back to the same water picture from the 1940s…the board never cited a clinical study, so the case is somewhat moot. Whether it’s at your 9-5 desk job or after a hard workout, it’s great to have your body tell you when to drink — though ignoring those signals and wondering why you’ve got a mid-afternoon headache is another matter. Your kidneys are already amazing filters, so drinking more water than average won’t actually flush out toxins or improve skin tone more than usual—although it can help flush out kidney stones, and staying hydrated can help prevent them in the first place. Drinking two cups of water before a meal will eventually help you lose weight, but that’s a matter of filling your stomach, leaving less room for food.

* There is such a thing as drinking lots of water. Water intoxication occurs when your kidneys can’t keep up with filtration, draining sodium from your cells, leading to high blood pressure and pressure in the brain, which is not a pretty picture. All that to say… listen to your body (and your doctor) for the best medical advice, and maybe drink a sip or more now, just in case!

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