For as long as we can remember, we've been told we need to drink eight glasses of water a day—but we're always failing at it. Where did that rule even come from, anyway? And is it even legit?
Turns out, maybe not. A new study has shown that eight glasses of water a day is not the right amount for every person, and we should actually be listening to our bodies instead. Imagine that.
The study out of Monash BioMedicine Discovery Institute found that our bodies have a mechanism that acts as a dam, regulating how much water we actually intake, and stopping us from overdrinking. (If only that existed for wine....)
During the study, researchers observed the effort people had to make to intake (and swallow) water after exercise, when they were the thirstiest, versus when they'd already ingested a lot of water. The subjects exhibited three times as much effort when drinking when they were no longer thirsty, because the brain actually shuts down the swallowing reflex when it’s had enough. Even worse? If you drink too much water you might even die.
“There have been cases when athletes in marathons were told to load up with water and died, in certain circumstances, because they slavishly followed these recommendations and drank far in excess of need,” said associate professor Michael Farrell of the Monash Institute, who was involved in the study. As the report goes on to explain, "Drinking too much water in the body puts it in danger of water intoxication or hyponatremia, when vital levels of sodium in the blood become abnormally low potentially causing symptoms ranging from lethargy and nausea to convulsions and coma."
Um, yikes—so how much is too much water? Drinking eight glasses per day is not going to overhydrate anyone. “However, you don’t need to drink eight glasses of water in addition to the fluids like coffee, tea, soda, etc. that you are already drinking throughout the day, because these beverages typically include amounts of water as well,” Allison Tannenbaum, registered dietitian, told The Feast. Tannenbaum is also a certified health and wellness coach, and currently serves as New York Life Insurance Company’s go-to nutritionist.
Keep in mind the foods you eat may be adding to your hydration total as well. “If you eat recommended amounts of non-starchy vegetables, which typically have a large percentage of water, that could also be included in a person’s daily fluid recommendations. These facts support claims within the study that you do not need to be drinking a set amount of water per day, because you already intake water through various other foods and beverages,” says Tannenbaum.
Right, like cocktails? Nice try.
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