WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, August is, just like the human body, at least 60 percent made of water: vacations to the beach, weekend trips to the lake or pool, big pitchers full of refreshing ice water. August is also National Water Quality Month, as you probably know, and it’s when we all have our big get-togethers to celebrate World Water Week (August 26-31!) and Sea Serpent Day (August 7). It may be hot and dry where you are right now, but at least Ken Jennings can make it rain knowledge with his August Debunker column, deflating everything you think you know about H2O.

Water Myth #1: You Need Eight Glasses Full Every Day.

Of all the far-fetched nutritional information that parents and teachers feed to kids, this might be the most dubious. Eight glasses of water? That sounds like a vaudeville act or a Third World prison torture regimen, not a kindly bit of doctor’s advice. The home ec teacher who drummed this rule into me in the seventh grade called it the “8 x 8 rule”: eight 8-ounce glasses of water, every single day. That’s 64 ounces in total: a half-gallon a day. Who drinks that much water?

Not healthy people, says Heinz Valtin, a Dartmouth kidney specialist who studied the belief for a 2002 issue of the American Journal of Physiology. Valtin traces the myth back to a 1945 National Research Council pamphlet advising one milliliter of water for each calorie of food eaten, which would indeed be sixty to eighty ounces for most adults. But everyone seems to have missed the pamphlet’s next sentence: “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods” (my italics). In other words, your regular food intake is giving you most of the water you need without you ever taking a single sip of Dasani.

Valtin is quick to note that you might need more water if you’re in a hot climate, or very physically active, or prone to kidney stones. But everyone else can just take a drink if they’re thirsty, and not if they’re not. (“Thirst means you’re already dehydrated” is also a lie, says Valtin. So is “Urine should be clear!”) Drinking too much when you’re not thirsty can overtax your kidneys, leading to a possibly deadly state called “water intoxication.” So the next time your mother nags you to drink more water, tell Mom she’s all wet.

Quick Quiz: What 2002 sci-fi/horror film contains the line, “Daddy, there’s a monster outside my room. Can I have a glass of water?”

Ken Jennings is the author of Brainiac, Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

Photo by Flickr member bfurnace. Used under a Creative Commons License.

misterducky


quality posts: 3 Private Messages misterducky

That would be the M. Night Shyamalan
movie "Signs".

garylapointe


quality posts: 0 Private Messages garylapointe
misterducky wrote:That would be the M. Night Shyamalan
movie "Signs".



That's what I was going to put too.

Gary

Gary

Gary Said... (my blog) GHotos (my PHotos) Montezuma Pacific (photos from my favorite section of Costa Rica)
The Daily Meme.

basharoftheages


quality posts: 0 Private Messages basharoftheages

Strangely enough, I've had several health professionals (doctors and nurses) stress the 8 glasses of water thing to me. It's shocking that this "myth" is spread around in med schools.

Slarti59


quality posts: 8 Private Messages Slarti59

Interesting...

When I don't go out to eat (and get soda) my daily fluid intake is less than 24oz a day (mostly juice) and is frequently 0.

My boyfriend on the other hand drinks at least 64oz of water every day and often twice that. I'm pretty sure he only drinks when he's thirsty.

davidmcgill


quality posts: 0 Private Messages davidmcgill

64 oz sounds like a lot, but it's about three 20 oz bottles. So... if you can drink three 20 oz bottles of soda in one day, you can certainly drink three 20 oz bottles of water in one day. One at each meal! I actually now use SodaStream and carbonate my water, so I get the "soda" feel without the syrup's calories.

msolgonick


quality posts: 0 Private Messages msolgonick

This guy is full of it! Drinking that much water a day can do nothing but good for you. To say that there is no benefit or that it is not good for you (by over-taxing your kidneys) is a horrible position to take. One of the main reasons people get headaches is because they let themselves get dehydrated. If you are just 2% dehydrated you lose over 20% of your energy.

I could go on and on. If you think I'm wrong - Try drinking that much and see how you feel!

jordi67


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jordi67

google hyponatremia. water is just like most things; too much is just as bad as too little.

agingdragqueen


quality posts: 119 Private Messages agingdragqueen

Staff

I did the math from my water bottle and I drink about 100oz a day.

I'm going to die aren't I.


sweetcosmicpope


quality posts: 0 Private Messages sweetcosmicpope

When I was in navy bootcamp, we were required to drink 8 to 12 canteens of water daily. And a canteen holds about a liter of water.

SESteve


quality posts: 15 Private Messages SESteve
agingdragqueen wrote:I'm going to die aren't I.



It's guaranteed.

msolgonick


quality posts: 0 Private Messages msolgonick
jordi67 wrote:google hyponatremia. water is just like most things; too much is just as bad as too little.



From http://chemistry.about.com/cs/5/f/blwaterintox.htm


The kidneys of a healthy adult can process fifteen liters of water a day! You are unlikely to suffer from water intoxication, even if you drink a lot of water, as long as you drink over time as opposed to intaking an enormous volume at one time. As a general guideline, most adults need about three quarts of fluid each day. Much of that water comes from food, so 8-12 eight ounce glasses a day is a common recommended intake. You may need more water if the weather is very warm or very dry, if you are exercising, or if you are taking certain medications. The bottom line is this: it's possible to drink too much water, but unless you are running a marathon or an infant, water intoxication is a very uncommon condition.



jcolag


quality posts: 8 Private Messages jcolag

I hate to be "that guy," in this case, but I'm not entirely clear where the debunking is. We have one guy saying that the idea comes from a pamphlet, and that (if this is the case) the qualifier has been forgotten.

Uh-huh. But how does that mean it's not healthy? I notice there's little cited science (none cited here) saying anything more aggressive than drinking less won't kill you. Which...yeah, but that's not the point. Malnourished people can live for a pretty long time, too.

I also wonder if a change in diet may change the requirements. High-fructose corn syrup is hygroscopic and agitated water and oil form an emulsion. Neither of those scenarios were common in the 1920s, of course. I don't know the biochemistry involved, here, but I have to wonder how well our kidneys and intestines can wrest water molecules out of that sort of food.

qsopht


quality posts: 3 Private Messages qsopht
msolgonick wrote:This guy is full of it! Drinking that much water a day can do nothing but good for you. To say that there is no benefit or that it is not good for you (by over-taxing your kidneys) is a horrible position to take. One of the main reasons people get headaches is because they let themselves get dehydrated. If you are just 2% dehydrated you lose over 20% of your energy.

I could go on and on. If you think I'm wrong - [b][u]Try drinking that much and see how you feel![u][b]



Actually, the Neurologist I see for migraines says that sleep is probably the most important factor.

Sam

cam4mav


quality posts: 0 Private Messages cam4mav

I frequently drink around 5 or 6 Powerade 32oz bottles of water throughout the day. I'm in Tucson, and fairly active. I still wake up dehydrated even with almost 3 gallons of water a day!

Are you going to die if you don't get 8x8 a day? of course not. but is drinking more than that a bad thing? of course not. It takes soooo much water intake to be harmful, it is literally painful just having that much liquid all at once before it is harmful beyond discomfort. if it is spaced out, it takes an even more ridiculous amount.

This 'debunks' not a whole lot, and then enforces a new false idea that water is a danger unless you avoid it unless truly thirsty with zero evidence presented.


mndvs737


quality posts: 4 Private Messages mndvs737

Yes, drinking too much water can be harmful - reference the case of the radio contest where people drank massive amounts of water and had to resist the urge to go to the bathroom. However, if I'm drinking water at a moderate pace throughout the day, my body will absorb what it needs and "ask" to get rid of the excess. As long as I "answer" that "call", then I shouldn't see any ill effects.

lwhardin


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lwhardin

Eat when you are hungry. Drink when you are thirsty. Play video games and shop woot! the rest of the time.

lwhardin


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lwhardin
cam4mav wrote:I frequently drink around 5 or 6 Powerade 32oz bottles of water throughout the day. I'm in Tucson, and fairly active. I still wake up dehydrated even with almost 3 gallons of water a day!

Are you going to die if you don't get 8x8 a day? of course not. but is drinking more than that a bad thing? of course not. It takes soooo much water intake to be harmful, it is literally painful just having that much liquid all at once before it is harmful beyond discomfort. if it is spaced out, it takes an even more ridiculous amount.

This 'debunks' not a whole lot, and then enforces a new false idea that water is a danger unless you avoid it unless truly thirsty with zero evidence presented.



If you wake up dehydrated after drinking that much water, check into 2 things:
1 - what is the humidity in your house?
2 - you may have a sleep disorder that is causing you to breathe through your mouth and snore a lot. That will dry out your mouth, throat and chest

msolgonick


quality posts: 0 Private Messages msolgonick

Woot should offer some water jugs at a great price just because they posted that stupid article.

inkycatz


quality posts: 105 Private Messages inkycatz
msolgonick wrote:Woot should offer some water jugs at a great price just because they posted that stupid article.



We have offered some Camelback and Stanley products, just saying. Stay hydrated!

I'm just hanging out, really.

Discord


quality posts: 6 Private Messages Discord
lwhardin wrote:Eat when you are hungry. Drink when you are thirsty. Play video games and shop woot! the rest of the time.



Nothing about being horny? Slacker.

msolgonick


quality posts: 0 Private Messages msolgonick
inkycatz wrote:We have offered some Camelback and Stanley products, just saying. Stay hydrated!



That must of been the day my internet was down. Dang it!!!

wootfast


quality posts: 3 Private Messages wootfast

Staff

jcolag wrote:I hate to be "that guy," ...



You love being that guy.

johnwhoover


quality posts: 0 Private Messages johnwhoover

It's a typical August day in Phoenix. The high temperature today will be 111°F. I invite the author for a walk around town. He may have a drink of water when he's thirsty, and I'll carry my cell phone to call 911 when he collapses.

jcolag


quality posts: 8 Private Messages jcolag
wootfast wrote:You love being that guy.



Oh, in some cases, I even live for it! But here, it's much less satisfying getting into a pissing contest with people who don't want to drink so much water.

j5


quality posts: 63 Private Messages j5
jcolag wrote:Oh, in some cases, I even live for it! But here, it's much less satisfying getting into a pissing contest with people who don't want to drink so much water.

Because you can guarantee they will lose that match?

move along

whoiskenjennings


quality posts: 7 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

Guest Blogger

jcolag wrote:I hate to be "that guy,"



Apparently you're getting over it though.

in this case, but I'm not entirely clear where the debunking is.



It's easy. Eight glasses is often quoted as a healthy minimum. In fact, you get much of that through your diet and other beverages, so that number vastly overstates the actual healthy minimum.

I understand you're saying that even more water than the healthy minimum might/must be more healthy, but you haven't provided any evidence for that, and Valtin disagrees. (Feel free to read his extremely thorough papers on the subject; just because I didn't cite all his supporting evidence in a three-paragraph blog post doesn't mean it doesn't exist.)

As he points out, you start to feel thirsty when blood concentration goes up 2% or so; dehydration doesn't start until 5%. Thirst is therefore the best indicator of when to drink, not some completely arbitrary guideline. The idea that most people are dehydrated most of the time is demonstrably false.

whoiskenjennings


quality posts: 7 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

Guest Blogger

johnwhoover wrote:It's a typical August day in Phoenix. The high temperature today will be 111°F. I invite the author for a walk around town. He may have a drink of water when he's thirsty, and I'll carry my cell phone to call 911 when he collapses.



The hot Phoenix weather has so fried your brain that you apparently couldn't even make it to the third paragraph: "Valtin is quick to note that you might need more water if you’re in a hot climate, or very physically active."

impaul4


quality posts: 8 Private Messages impaul4

I do between 110-130oz a day. 64 would be a vacation!


jcolag


quality posts: 8 Private Messages jcolag
whoiskenjennings wrote:It's easy.



OK, having gone through the article, I think the article is largely good, but the answer still isn't all that easy.

Dr. Valtin dismisses favorable evidence as some sort of fringe or irrelevant case (not even potential cancer victims are healthy, so their benefits don't count), which is fair, but not while making a beeline for fringe and irrelevant cases for the potential downsides (someone with hormone deficiencies or on drugs getting water intoxication somehow counts as healthy). He also seems to play fast and loose with the definition of "water," starting out with the idea that any drink should count, but then dismissing that it should when the numbers match the "myth." Lastly, he makes the point that there's no actual proof that--barring poisonous or expensive water--there's a problem. As I said before, there's very little cited research suggesting that normal people can't or shouldn't drink as much water as they want, just vague worries, usually involving diabetics and drug users.

The most important take-home, I would think, is that the word "water" can be interpreted liberally to include coffee (as long as it isn't your first caffiene hit in a while) and soup, not that asking for another glass of water at a restaurant might turn a victim into a swamp monster.

Mind you, I agree that you shouldn't be forcing yourself to drink water, and should stop if it's uncomfortable in any way, just like you shouldn't eat if you're not hungry. I also agree that buying water for ten bucks per gallon or drinking contaminated sludge to support the 8x8 principle is worse than trusting an apple to have enough water to keep you alive 'til dinner.

But all the same, I think "we can't find the original research, so stop drinking water" is a little bit impulsive. Clearly, even with people drinking water obsessively, emergency rooms aren't exactly packed with water intoxication victims (it's still rare enough to make the news every time) nor has the expected lifespan crashed.

npritchard


quality posts: 0 Private Messages npritchard
qsopht wrote:Actually, the Neurologist I see for migraines says that sleep is probably the most important factor.

Sam



My personal experience this year: when I started drinking more water (specifically, having a glass first thing in the morning with breakfast, and also making sure to drink extra water when I'm outside in the heat) cut my rate of migraine incidence down by at least 75%. I'm probably still somewhat below 8 glasses a day...though I may be close if you count Coke Zero and milk.

I don't sleep very well in general, so I can't comment on that recommendation.