I love water. I love swimming in it, SCUBA diving in it, bathing in it, skiing on it, floating in it, almost everything about it. The only thing I don’t like doing with water is drinking it. I don’t like the boring taste of it, I don’t like how it sloshes around in my stomach, I don’t like going down the hall to the bathroom five times a day, and I don’t like how it makes me feel bloated.
So I was pretty excited when I started reading news articles about how the old “drink 64 ounces of water every day” lecture I’ve endured from numerous doctors over the years is being debunked by Dr. Margaret McCartney in the British Medical Journal. Now here’s a knowledge translation challenge I can get behind!
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. McCartney (who regularly writes in the media about evidence-based medicine) wrote that the recommendation to drink six to eight glasses of water a day is “thoroughly debunked nonsense,” and that there is no high-quality scientific evidence to support it. She also pointed out that many of the organizations peddling the recommendation are backed by bottled water companies.
Dr. Heinz Valtin of the Dartmouth Medical School agreed with her, telling the Huffington Post that there aren’t any scientific studies supporting the eight-glasses-a-day rule, and that he hasn’t seen any additional evidence that would confirm the recommendation. Valtin published a review of the literature several years ago in the American Journal of Physiology.
However, McCartney’s commentary wasn’t peer-reviewed, and the Mayo Clinic acknowledges that most doctors still recommend drinking eight to nine glasses of water a day. In fact, it’s so ingrained into people’s consciousness that convincing them they might not need to be flooding their bodies with water may be a steep uphill battle.
On a side note, one interesting factoid that came out of this is the various ways it’s acceptable to get your water. I’ve always been told that my water should come from, well, water. But it turns out that’s not really the case. It’s also acceptable to get your water from fruits and vegetables, as well as liquids other than pure water. Aha! I knew it!
Despite all of this, I know when I go in for my next doctor’s appointment I will still be asked how much water I am drinking. I will still lie about it, while seriously underreporting how much Coke I drink, just to keep them off my back. What about you? Are you chugging down the water you’ve been told to every day? And what do you think about the guidelines? Tell me in the comments!