Of all the foolish medical myths out there, the most dangerous is the one that claims we must drink eight glasses of water a day for good health.
The average glass of water is 200 to 300 ml. You have been led to believe that you must drink between 1.6 to 2.4 liters of water a day.
Are you mad? That much water can actually kill you. There is an enormous amount of medical research that has clearly and repeatedly shown that too much water can indeed kill you.
Why do you drink water?
Obviously, because your body needs it. Your body has to maintain a balance between its salts and water. The technical term is “osmomolarity”.
And how do you know when you should drink water?
Obviously, your body will tell you. To be more accurate, your brain will tell you. The sub-fornical organ is a specialised part of your brain that tells you when you need a drink of water. Your brain has a sophisticated and accurate mechanism for maintaining osmomolarity. You know it as Thirst.
And how do you know how much water is enough?
Once again, your brain will tell you. Just as the brain has a thirst mechanism, it also has an accurate inhibitory mechanism that tells you when enough is enough.
It’s called the swallowing inhibition response.
Simply put, you will find it difficult to swallow water after a certain point. At this point, stop drinking more water. Just stop.
Who came up with this eight-glasses-a-day crap anyway?
Well, there was a report published back in 1945 by the US Food and Nutrition Board that recommended a total water intake of 2.45 liters. Mind you, total water intake. That includes water from food, vegetables, fruits and beverages like coffee and tea. An apple for example, contains 86% water. A banana has 75% water. A cup of cooked rice about 65%. Rasam, sambar, most curries are 70% water. A cup of tea is 95% water. Even dry roasted peanuts contain 5% water.
Some manufacturer of bottled water misquoted this report, and started this ridiculous and dangerous myth about eight glasses a day.
There’s a more recent report by the US Food and Nutrition, published in 2005, that will give you every single detail you need to know about water intake, and more important, the real risks of drinking too much water.
You can download the entire report using the link I’ve given below.
What this means is that a normal adult who eats thrice a day and has two or more cups of tea or coffee, does not need more than three glasses of water a day.
Look at your urine. If it’s straw colored, you’re doing fine. If it’s dark yellow, drink a glass of water. If your urine is colorless, you’re in trouble. Don’t drink more water.
The health benefits of drinking eight glasses of water are: Zero.
Effect on skin: Nil
Effect on “toxins”: Nil
Effect on weight-loss: Nil.
On the other hand, the dangers of eight glasses of water:
Damage to kidneys: YES.
Increase in blood pressure: YES
Excessive strain on your heart: YES
By drinking eight glasses of water a day, you will lose too much sodium from your body. It’s called hyponatremia. And it is potentially fatal.
How about dehydration then?
Yes, dehydration can occur with severe diarrhoea, excessive sweating caused by heat, and some disease conditions. Elderly people sometimes forget to drink enough water. Only in such cases, and under medical advice, is higher water intake recommended.
So, I don’t need eight glasses a day?
For a normal adult, there is no medical justification for eight glasses of water a day. The health benefits are ZERO. The risks are very real.
Get this into your head: Too much water kills.
There are too many blogs and websites that rant about the “benefits” of overdrinking water. Please do not take medical advice from an unqualified, non-medical nitwit just because he/she has a stylish blog.
Educate yourself by talking to a doctor and by reading correct information from authentic sources. I’ve given some links at the bottom, to start you off. Do use them.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. As Nature intended.
Cheers … Srini.