The following recommendation has been drilled into our heads by doctors and health experts, and by now we know it by heart: We must drink an average of eight glasses of water a day in order to give our skin a healthy glow, to keep our waistlines trim, to maintain healthy kidneys ... the list of health benefits goes on and on.
Except now there are some physicians who are claiming that the eight glasses a day adage is pure nonsense. Here's why:
Dr. Margaret McCartney, a Scottish physician, and others argue that there's no clear evidence showing that water actually improves our health. And, in fact, they suggest that drinking excessive amounts of water may even be bad for us: It can lead to loss of sleep (when you get up to pee in the middle of the night), impair concentration, cause kidney damage, and even bring about a fatal condition called hyponatremia.
Scared yet? Well, then, you should take Dr. McCartney's recommendation and only drink when you are thirsty. Except that's not always a fool-proof measure either ...
With all the confusion and debate surrounding something so simple and basic as water intake, is it any wonder that so many Americans reach for soda instead? I highly doubt there's a significant number of people out there at serious risk simply because they guzzle too much water a day. (I'm a big water drinker, and even I find the eight glasses per day recommendation challenging.) To make people paranoid about something as benign as water seems irresponsible and stupid to me, especially if it's giving them an excuse to reach for an unhealthy alternative.
I think a good rule of thumb when it comes to water drinking -- and with most things -- is common sense and moderation. Because if we're not careful, the next thing they'll be telling us is that excessive walking can lead to two broken legs.
How many glasses of water do you drink a day?
Image via cogdogblog/Flickr