Should we drink 8 glasses of water a day?


Everyone has heard that you must not drink less than 8 glasses of water per day (around 2L) to stay hydrated, but is it true? Not exactly. There is actually no scientific based evidence that an adequate water intake is satisfied by 8 glasses of water per day.

In fact, the actual amount of water you need to drink varies from an individual to another and is determined by many elements including:

  1. Environment

Hot, dry climate necessitate a higher water intake.

  1. Level of exercise

Because water is lost through sweat.

  1. Health

The body needs more water if it is battling against a disease of health problem, also pregnant and breastfeeding women need to have a higher intake of water.

  1. Body size and composition

  1. Diet

The food you eat contains water; especially fruits and vegetables but also meat, fish and eggs. Although daily intake of water from the diet is estimated to about 20-30%, that number can vary from a country to another according to the type of food typically eaten.

  1. Metabolism: When your body metabolises nutrients, it creates water, referred to as metabolic water.

So how much water should we drink in a day?

There is no real answer to this question, because it really depends on all those factors: for someone 8 glasses of water a day may be enough and for someone else it may be too much or too little, so you just have to listen to your body or look at the color of your urine. If it is pale, you should be drinking enough water and if it is dark that means you should drink more.

Truth is, the only real concern of drinking too much water is that you will be peeing all the time because even though Hyponatremia (imbalance of sodium content in blood due to too much water being drunk) is a real condition, it happens rarely in healthy adults and is more of a concern for athletes. In that case, sport drinks that contain sodium, other electrolytes and sugar can be a good option, but if it’s not the case, don’t worry about drinking too much water, your body will thank you!

*Bonus: When consumed in moderation, coffee (maximum 3x 250mL cups) and light alcoholic beverages (like beer) can be considered a fair water intake contrary to popular belief because the diuretic effect is not important enough to overpower the amount of liquid drunk (HealthLink, 2019). That means that you morning cup of coffee can count in your water intake.

Reference list:

Drinking Enough Water. (2019). HealthLink BC. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abk5466

Mayo Clinic. (2017). Water: How much should you drink every day? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

Palsdottir, H. (2016). Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day: Fact or Fiction? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-glasses-of-water-per-day

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