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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eight glasses of water a day myth

Years ago, someone said we should drink 8 glasses of water a day.  I remember thinking at the time that no one could possibly drink that much water but the theory persisted and for years, people who weren't  the least bit thirsty, starting downing large amounts of water.  A belief evolved that if you weren't into water, you weren't taking good care of your health.

Now one Australian academic has upset all the fitness fanatics, know-all dieticians and health zealots everywhere by saying it's a big lie.

Spiro Tsindos wrote an article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health which was released today.  He tells us we also get fluid from fruit, vegetables, juices, tea and coffee.  "If you're thirsty, by all means drink a beverage, but it doesn't have to be water."  He went on "We should be telling people that beverages like tea and coffee contribute to a person's fluid needs and despite their caffeine content, do NOT lead to dehydration."

He says that drinking large amounts of water in one sitting to reach the daily intake is pointless because it would not be distributed where it was needed, it would just dilute the urine.   Diets that recommend large amounts of water be consumed are also a waste of time without a low calorie diet.

So where did the idea of 8 glasses of water a day come from?  Blame the Americans.  Way back in 1945, the National Academy of Sciences in the US recommended that 2.5 litres of water should be consumed every day.  That's when common sense went out the window and we fell for it - hook, line and sinker and the bottled water companies have been jumping for joy ever since.

Drinking too much water can kill you, it's called Hyponatremia, especially dangerous at rock concerts and raves.  The body's salt levels drop so drastically, the brain starts to swell and death can soon follow.