The “miracle” of water

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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I really enjoy reading health tips, and Facebook has made that very easy. However, I have a thing for accuracy, so I *Google anything I’m interested in trying.

I did just that after reading information supposedly from the Mayo Clinic regarding drinking a glass of water before bedtime to reduce the risk of heart attack or stoke and drinking two glasses when you get out of bed in the morning to jump start your internal organs.

According to articles on Google, yes, the information is absolutely true and no, it’s absolutely false. Isn’t the internet a great tool?!

The best way to discover the truth was to go directly to the Mayo Clinic website. My search for “best time to drink water” and “water heart attack stroke” didn’t yield specific results. However, I did find a nice, concise article, Water: How much should you drink every day, which provides some good common sense information.

We should all know the basics shared in the article, such as “every system in your body depends on water” and “water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.” On the other hand, the “lack of water can lead to dehydration,” robbing your body of the ability “to carry out normal functions” and draining your energy and making you tired.mayo_logo

Pretty fundamental information, however, I did read a challenge to the conventional thought of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

Eight 8-ounce glasses of water is “about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations.” (roughly 3 liters or about 13 cups for men and 2.2 liters or about 9 cups for women)

The article goes on to say that the rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, but remains popular because it’s easy to remember. To be more accurate, the author believes we should exchange the word fluid for water, “because all fluids count toward the daily total.”

The thought of water not being our only source of hydration is further explored in an article in Parade Magazine, The truth behind the myths parents tell kids, by Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy fame).

KenJennings“In 2002, a kidney specialist named Heinz Valtin, M.D., concluded this rule was an accident. Back in the 1940s, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended ‘one milliliter of water for each calorie of food.’ A 1,900-calorie diet would indeed work out to about 64 ounces of water a day. But everyone seems to have forgotten the next sentence: ‘Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.’ Most of our water gets to us in non-water form. In fact, a National Institutes of Health doctor told the Los Angeles Times that a healthy adult in a temperate climate could replace his body’s daily water loss with food alone! The Center for Nutrition found that even supposedly ‘diuretic’ beverages (like coffee, tea, and soda) provide almost all the hydration that water does.”

O.K., I’m not ready to give up drinking water or any other beverage to meet my hydration needs, but it is important to separate fact from assumption.

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Image courtesy of zirconicusso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The bottom line is that we need to listen to our bodies and drink when we’re thirsty. Hydrate when you exercise. Hydrate in hot or humid weather. Hydrate when you’re breast-feeding. Hydrate when you have an illness accompanied by fever, vomiting or diarrhea (although I’d drink Gatorade rather than water in this case).

Water might not be a miracle cure for what ails you, but it can’t hurt. It has zero calories, is inexpensive and is easily accessible (at least in most locations), so go to grab some water and let’s toast to a life filled with more **finesse!

*(yes, Google is now a verb – at least in my world)

**finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

4 thoughts on “The “miracle” of water

  1. Excellent points. I’ve wondered for some time about all the rules and regs supposedly surrounding something as simple and basic as our water consumption. It’s great to see it laid out so concisely here!

  2. One guideline I’d heard is your body weight in pounds divided in half equals the number of ounces of water you should drink. That’s a lot of water for us larger people. I live in a dry climate, and I do drink a lot of water, but that was ridiculous.

  3. I had read some time ago that the 8 cups a day rule was based on basically nothing. It’s good to know that my coffee counts too. I also read once that one set amount for every person no matter their size just doesn’t make sense.

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