The new real deal on water

Making headlines this week is a new study on drinking water that shoots down the current thinking that you need 8 glasses a day. NPR did a nice little piece on 5 myths of drinking water that I thought was worth a mention:

Myth No. 1: Drink Eight Glasses Each Day

Scientists say there’s no clear health benefit to chugging or even sipping water all day. So where does the standard advice of drinking eight glasses each day come from? “Nobody really knows,” says Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

Myth No. 2: Drinking Lots of Water Helps Clear Out Toxins

The kidneys filter toxins from our bloodstreams. Then the toxins clear through the urine. The question is, does drinking extra water each day improve the function of the kidneys?

“No,” says Goldfarb. “In fact, drinking large amounts of water surprisingly tends to reduce the kidney’s ability to function as a filter. It’s a subtle decline, but definite.”

Myth No. 3: Lots of Water Equals Healthier Skin

The body is already 60 percent water. So, if you take a 200-pound man, he’s 120 pounds of water.

Adding a few extra glasses of water each day has limited effect. “It’s such a tiny part of what’s in the body,” says Goldfarb. “It’s very unlikely that one’s getting any benefit.” His full editorial is published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

One study published in 2007 on the cosmetic benefit of drinking water suggests that 500 ml of water increases capillary blood flow in the skin. “But it’s unclear whether these changes are clinically significant,” says Goldfarb.

Myth No. 4: Drinking Extra Water Leads to Weight Loss

A more accurate statement may be: Drinking water is a helpful tool for dieters.

“Water is a great strategy for dieters because it has no calories,” says Madeline Fernstrom of the University of Pittsburgh. “So you can keep your mouth busy without food and get the sense of satisfaction.”

But water is not magical, she adds. Other zero-calorie options such as diet sodas are fine, too.

Myth No. 5: It’s Easy to Get Dehydrated During a Workout

Dehydration sets in when a person has lost 2 percent of his or her body weight. So for a 200-pound man, this means losing 4 pounds of water.

Marathon runners, bikers and hikers all need to recognize the signs of dehydration. “It is also obvious that individuals in hot, dry climates have increased need for water,” says Goldfarb.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes drink 16 ounces of fluids a couple of hours before starting sports practice.

But for a stroll in the park, no water bottle is necessary. Goldfarb’s advice: Just drink when you’re thirsty.

This is good news for me – I can’t FATHOM how to consume 8 big glasses a day. And now I’m thirsty so I’m off to find some water! Happy Friday!

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7 thoughts on “The new real deal on water”

  1. I tried that guzzling water thing years ago and couldn’t do it. I can drink plenty of diet soda, coffee, tea, etc but I just can’t drink water all day long. I’m glad it’s a myth after all!

  2. Kathy – Indeed. I was glad that they pointed that out, too.

    KC – I’m just not often that thirsty. But I’m really OCD about drinking water. It’s got to be COLD.

    Endub – *laugh* Good point!

  3. With all the marathon training in the past few years I got in the habit of drinking enough water so that my urine is clear (really oversharing here)… a daily average for me is 130+ ounces a day.

    I use my R&Rs mugs! =)

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