If you answered “eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day” you would certainly have given the answer most commonly cited – you would also be wrong!
Eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day has been repeated so often that almost no one even questions it anymore, but when you look into its origins, as Scientific American recently did, you find that there is no scientific evidence to support it.
The origin of the 8 x 8 guideline is believed to be a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board suggestion that a person consume one milliliter of water (about one fifth of a teaspoon) for each calorie of food.
On a typical diet of 1,900 calories per day, that equates to a consumption of 1,900 milliliters of water per day, or around 64 ounces – eight eight-ounce glasses.
But what has got lost in the fogs of time is that the original recommendation suggested that much of our daily water needs could be met by the water content found in food. Many foods are packed with water – try eating a pear or some watermelon without slurping – and these can form part of our daily water intake.
In fact, there is no solid research to support the 8 glasses per day guideline. So what does that mean in practical terms?
As most acupuncturists know, common sense is often the best guideline in issues like this. What we usually recommend is to drink when you are thirsty! It sounds simple, but should come with a caveat of sorts.
Water is great, and you should drink lots of it – but fresh juice is also good, in moderation, as are herbal teas. If you also eat a good diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, again, you are likely meeting much of your body’s need for water from your diet.
If, however, your daily diet consists of three double cheeseburgers washed down with three liters of diet coke, chances are you need to drink more water!
The conclusion? Apply some common sense. Eat a good diet, drink when you’re thirsty, and don’t obsess about exactly how many glasses of water you drink per day. Bottoms up!