Did you know you could go about 1 month without eating food but only 1 week without drinking water? This just goes to show how supremely important water is to keeping your body going. Your body is between 55-65% water and needs regular daily water intake to function properly.
As it is so important, it is worth knowing a little bit more about this amazing liquid substance, especially as there are so many false water myths around.
In the following sections, I will debunk 4 of the most common and potentially harmful myths that you might just still believe are true.
Myth 1: You Need to Drink Eight Glasses of Water Each Day.
This has to be the biggest and most widespread water myth going today. But it’s simply not true.
Physician Dr. Heinz Valtin from Dartmouth Medical School undertook the most comprehensive look at this myth in 2002. He set out to find the roots and validity of the ever popular “drink eight glasses of water a day” maxim.
He published his review in the American Journal of Physiology, which found no scientific studies supporting the 8 glasses a day rule. Dr Valtin later sent an email to the HuffingtonPost, saying that since publishing his original research no one has been able to provide him with new data that scientifically backs the “8-glass” recommendation.
So if not 8 glasses how much water should you drink a day? The answer agreed upon by most experts and healthcare professionals is summed up by the IoM (Institute of Medicine). The IoM is an independent, non-profit scientific institute and they recommend 2.7 litres for adult women and 3.7 litres for adult men. This applies to generally healthy adults who live a sedentary lifestyle in temperate climates.
Myth 2: You can Never Drink too Much Water.
No, sadly this is not true. It is possible to drink an excessive amount of water and in extreme cases this can be very dangerous.
Drinking too much water in a short period of time can cause the level of sodium or salt in your blood to drop to dangerously low levels. This condition is called hyponatremia or sometimes referred to as ‘water intoxication’. In very rare cases it can be fatal.
One way to detect over-hydration is if you are passing urine frequently and your urine is very pale. Pale urine could be a sign that you are drinking more than you need.
According to webMD, symptoms of “overhydration” can be very similar to those of dehydration. The symptoms of hyponatremia include things like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Myth 3: Tea and Coffee Does Not Count as Water.
Simply put, this is not true.
Tea, coffee and other beverages do count towards your daily water intake. The myth that these types of hot drinks are dehydrating have been debunked many times over. Even the diuretic effect (i.e. the increase of passing urine) does not reduce hydration.
However, just because tea and coffee count as water doesn’t mean that they don’t come with issues.
When choosing what to drink it is important to be aware that although they will all technically provide you with hydration some are heavy on sugar and extra calories. Drinking your tea with sugar and full fat milk is an example of this. These extra calories can add up to become a big contribution to your daily calorie intake, which can have an impact on both your health and weight.
Another potential issue with consuming sugar in your drinks too often is the harmful impact it can have on your teeth.
The bottom line is that although all drinks deliver you with hydration, drinking water is still the best choice. This is because it delivers full hydration without extra calories or the potential to damage your teeth.
Myth 4: Bottled Water is Healthier than Tap Water.
Now there are some cases where this can be true but it’s not always the case.
Many bottled water manufacturers have come clean in recent years about the source of their bottled water. The fact is that there are many bottled water companies getting their water from the same public water source that runs through your kitchen tap.
Ignore the bold claims of water coming from “natural springs” or picturesque glaciers. Always check the label to see what the water source actually says and if it says “P.W.S”, that means “Public Water Source”.
This doesn’t even address one of the biggest problems with bottled water, which is the large environmental impact. Both in terms of the amount of resources it takes to create a plastic bottle and how difficult it is to recycle. All in all, you’re probably better off buying a water filter bottle if you really don’t like the taste of tap water.
The Bottom Line
For decades, experts and healthcare professionals have been recommending that we drink more water. Although many people understand the huge benefits of drinking water, some myths have become mixed up with facts. This article has hopefully cleared up some of the worst and potentially harmful hydration myths that you might have wrongly still believed were true.