Are you drinking enough water?


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    Many people have heard of the generally accepted rule for daily hydration of being eight glasses of water a day. This also equates to 2 liters, which seems like a daunting amount of water to consume that many people are not able to drink daily. Are we really just chronically dehydrated or is this a fact we should question?

                Research has been done by nutritionists that do not correlate with the eight glasses a day rule. The reasoning behind the myth is that we lose about 2 liters of fluid a day, just from doing normal tasks like breathing, sitting, and walking. The downfall to the myth is that it does not take into account the amount of water we take in from food, rather than just drinking straight water. Dr. Monica Reinagle, a nutritionist, argues that the food we ingest from water equates to about a liter and a half, especially if fruits and vegetables are part of the diet.

                So if we don't need to drink as much water as previously recommended, how much water is too much? There have been frightening stories of infants and athletes suffering from water intoxication. When the body has too much water, it suffers in the same way the body would drown in fresh water. The sodium levels drop and water seeps into the cells, causing an imbalance of salt outside of the cell. The cells then swell from excess water. In extreme cases, the cerebral edema and fluid in the lungs manifest. These factors can cause death if the sufferer is not medically treated. However, since the kidneys can process 15 liters of water daily, it is not likely for this to occur. Also, is not recommended for a person to drink more than 8 ounces in an hour, so the body has adequate time to process the liquid.

                So as a summary, drink water when you're thirsty and don't drink more than 8 ounces an hour. Also, don't drink an excessive amount of water in a short amount of time. Do any of you feel you drink an adequate amount of water? Would you be willing to change your drinking habits based on this nutritionists' recommendation? Do you believe the research  is accurate?

6 Comments

When I read your blog, I thought back to our discussion in class about the dangers of daily soda ingestion. It's no wonder that we have an obesity epidemic considering many people have replaced water and the positive effects it has on the body with calorie and sugar-filled soda.
From a personal standpoint, I always feel better when I'm adequately hydrated. However, I often have to make a conscious effort to drink water throughout the day. The advantages to staying properly hydrated have been proven in a variety of experiments like this one done in 2008. THe study found that "women who drank at least five glasses of water a day had 41% lower risk of fatal heart disease".
You mentioned that it is not recommended that a person drink more than 8 oz of water in an hour. That didn't seem very believable to me because after all, 8 oz an hour would mean that it'd take a person over 2 hours to simply finish a standard water bottle! However, I did like that your link addressed the idea that caffeinated beverages dehydrate us is a common misconception.

I personally love drinking water. It is a fact that water keeps you energized naturally. I hate when I urinate and see yellow, it makes me feel as if my body is dirty. Water flushes the body of waste. As a guy, I'm not really concerned with gaining "water-weight". If you were worried about your weight, I would definitely control your intake. I don't drink soda, because it is unhealthy and it makes me feel down. Water revives me and I love that feeling. For me, I drink about 8 glasses a day. I have always done that and it has worked out for me so far. I am healthy, and don't get sick too often. Another perk for me is that water keeps your muscles saturated, which is good for me in the seeing gains in muscle.

After reading your blog, the first thing that came to mind was: don't you think the amount of water a person needs would sufficiently vary from person to person? Taking account of factors such as weight, health conditions, or especially a person's amount of physical activity should play a role in what is considered the correct amount of water for a person to consume daily.

An article on MayoClinic formulated a list of some of those things I mentioned, along with others. One factor it listed that I hadn't thought of is environment. Weather conditions such humidity and heat cause fluid loss through sweating, heated indoor air (that we are primarily exposed to in the winter) causes the skin to dry, and high altitudes (the article states 8,000+ feet) can trigger fluid loss through more frequent urination and faster-paced breathing. People exposed to these types of conditions would all require more water intake, although the MayoClinic article doesn't go on to say how much.

As for increasing water intake after exercising, the article gets more specific - and I know your blog was based on the question of what specific amount of water is the correct amount. The article suggests that during short bouts of exercise (routines less than an hour), 1.5-2.5 cups of water should be consumed.

The article also mentions factors such as illness/health conditions and pregnancy as factors, but those seem to be less relevant.

While you brought up the issue of drinking too much water (with a great explanation of why it's dangerous, by the way) the article explains that it's very difficult for the average human with an average diet to end up with this problem (its correct name is hyponatremia). Mainly only extreme athletes with intense workouts are likely to suffer from this.

Strangely enough, while the website does address food intake being a major source of daily water supply, it still stands ground to the "8 cups of water" a day rule. It even suggests we drink more than 8 cups per day (13 cups for men, 9 cups for women)!

If you're really curious about if you are drinking the right amount of water personally, the article explains that you can assure your fluid intake is accurate if you are producing about 6.3 cups of light-colored urine per day.

I don't really think you can pinpoint a specific number of water that is the sufficient amount for every person. It really depends on a lot of factors, and there are out there in accordance with MayoClinic's suggestions.

I found an online daily hydration calculator that surveys you based on your weight and various other personal factors. It then predicts the amount of fluid ounces/liters of water you should be consuming in a day! Try it!

Oops! I accidentally shared the link to my individual results to the daily hydration calculator. Here is the correct link.

I recently saw this (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121485664867016997.html) article on the Wall Street Journal website that talks about if the 8 cup a day rule is real or just a myth. The article states that many small studies were done, but since they weren't very statistically significant they weren't considered important. What the studies did show though was that water increased calorie burning, reduced migraines, and increased blood flow to the skin. These things were brushed off because apparently there wasn't enough evidence. The researchers said that they haven't found any specific benefit that was significant, but they haven't proved that there ISN'T any benefit either. The article says that there shouldn't be a rule of how many cups to drink. If you are more active and play sports, for example, then you should drink more water than someone who is more sedentary. People who are not as active and drink too much water can suffer from Hyponatremia, which is when the sodium concentration in the blood falls very low- it is sort of like drowning, just like you said. I don't think there should be a recommended amount for the whole population. Everyones habits and bodies are different so it depends on what makes you feel healthy.

I think it might be a little difficult to determine just how accurate the information is. For, one the general rules of health are just that-general rules. Everybody's health is so different. I think the 8 glasses a day rule was probably put forth by water bottling companies just trying to sell their product. Same way cigarette companies used to put out ads saying cigarettes were good for you. Wouldn't the amount of water you need to drink also depend on where you live? Someone living in Arizona is probably sweating more than someone who lives in Minnesota so your environment combines with your unique health to determine just how much you need. The article from the first link made me wonder though, how come caffeinated drinks don't dehydrate you even though they can leave you feeling thirsty?

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