We are fortunate to have access to decent drinking water here in Victoria, BC, Canada. We can get water straight from the tap, filtered water, water in bottles, and even from local streams! We all hear about the importance of drinking water, so how much water do we really need?
There is actually no scientific evidence that supports the claim that people should drink 8 x 8 ounce glasses of water a day to be healthy. Generally, if the “8 x 8” rule is not already part of your lifestyle, you will probably not notice too much difference in your general health which is contradictory to what has been out there as the “truth” regarding water consumption. That being said, will you notice a difference if you drink more water? Absolutely! Being as you can only survive approximately 3 days without water, it is obviously an important part of our health.
Scientists have found that many people have very few health problems if they don’t drink enough water. Of course, there are many factors at play. Mild, chronic dehydration may not be a problem if you are moderately healthy but, if you suffer from kidney stones or are training for that half marathon, dehydration can definitely lead to some more serious health concerns. Here are some situations that require additional water intake: increased activity and exercise, warm to hot weather, illness with diarrhea or vomiting symptoms, women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, and health conditions such as kidney stones or bladder infections.
What’s confusing about water intake is that we forget that water is in almost everything we ingest in the form of food and liquids. Even though we may not be drinking a lot of plain water in a day, we are still getting water from our juice in the morning, or the salad we had for lunch.
Interestingly, the Institute of Medicine recommends between 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men, of total water intake per day. Well above the unsubstantiated 8 x 8 rule of water consumption. Other guidelines suggest to drink when you are thirsty and monitor the colour of your urine (if its murky and dark yellow, drink more water, enough so that its colourless to light yellow). If you have a difficult time getting plain water into you, other liquids such as juice, milk, tea and coffee can count towards your water intake! Also, any extra water we ingest can ward off constipation, help with basic maintenance of body fluids, and assist in kidney function. Having a bit of a “hydration back-up” won’t hurt either, and water is a calorie-free option for weight control.
So, even though there is no scientific evidence proving that we need over 2 litres of water a day, it is probably in our best interest to reach for that extra glass whenever we get the chance.
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