Is Needing to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day a Myth?

8 glasses water..Yes. And Aaron E. Carroll tells us where this myth came from. Way back in time there was a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that people need about 2.5 liters of water a day and that “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.” The recommendation was NOT that we needed to add 8 glasses of water to the liquid we already were getting. People reading the recommendation seemed to ignore the sentence that followed closely behind, which read, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”

A related myth I’ve often heard is that coffee doesn’t count as liquid because it will dehydrate you. That’s not true either.

Liquid is present in many things we eat, including fruit, vegetables, and everything we drink (juice, tea, coffee, beer, wine). We don’t all need the same amount of water and our bodies are good at telling us when we’re thirsty. If we’re seriously dehydrated we will have some symptoms. Healthy kids and adults don’t have to worry about being dehydrated. We also don’t have to worry because we naturally feel thirsty.

A White House nutritional policy adviser, declared “40 percent of Americans drink less than half of the recommended amount of water daily.” This wasn’t based on fact. There IS no recommendation.

I had a friend who drank so much water, he depleted the potassium in his body and had to go to the emergency room. He was close to death because he took the myth seriously and even augmented it. But there’s no proof that huge amounts of water are beneficial to otherwise healthy people.

Aaron E. Carroll, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, wrote in the New York Times article, No, You Do Not Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day, “There is no formal recommendation for a daily amount of water people need. That amount obviously differs by what people eat, where they live, how big they are and what they are doing. But as people in this country live longer than ever before, and have arguably freer access to beverages than at almost any time in human history, it’s just not true that we’re all dehydrated.”

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