Water is the drink of life, and the mantra of “drink eight glasses a day” has been touted since childhood. Proper hydration and maximum health seem synonymous.
However, new studies show that drinking eight glasses of water a day is misleading. The myth started when facts were taken out of context, and this myth has led to serious health effects.
The idea of drinking eight glasses of water a day started in 1945. The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommended people consume two and a half liters of water a day, which is the approximate eight 8-oz glasses. However, most people have ignored the following sentence after that information in the report. The sentence states, “Mostly this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” meaning vegetables and fruits. Thus, your daily water intake should come from healthy foods.
When taken out of the original context, the eight glasses myth opens up a nutritionary loophole. People can avoid water-rich foods and eat whatever they want, then mediate their diet by drinking water. The myth muddies proper nutrition and health.
Students around University of Georgia can be seen hauling water gallons around campus, hoping all that water will give them health benefits. Such alleged benefits include clearer skin, flushed out toxins in the kidneys, more energy and improved mental functioning. While proper hydration is necessary for normal functioning, there’s little valid scientific proof that over-hydration induces the aforementioned health benefits. There is proof, however, that over-hydration can be damaging.
Drinking too much water leads to water intoxication, according to the National Institute of Health. Excess water flushes out electrolytes, particularly sodium, which can lead to disorientation, confusion and vomiting. In severe cases water intoxication can lead to seizures, coma or death. Excessively drinking water without replenishing electrolytes could cause real harm.
Thus, overhydration is a paradox. Students drink more water to benefit themselves when in reality they could hurt themselves.
The key to not over-hydrating or dehydrating yourself is to simply listen to your body. Evolution gave the human body the gift of thirst, so when you feel thirsty, drink until you are not thirsty anymore. No more water is necessary.
In addition to that, do not drink water if your urine is clear. It means that you are over-hydrated and are ingesting more water than your body needs.
When learning how to be your healthiest self, perpetuated misinformation can potentially harm you if you’re not careful. Educate yourself on proper hydration. You’ll find that a lot ways to be healthy do not hold water.