The Wonders of Water
Water is one of the most basic elements of life but figuring out how much we
ought to drink hasn't always been so simple.
Most of us grew up thinking we needed to drink eight glasses of water each
day, in addition to any other drinks we might choose. But the latest
recommendations say that we no longer need to worry about drinking specific
amounts of water. Instead, we can simply satisfy our thirst with any beverage.
As it turns out, there really was no scientific evidence for the 64-ounce daily
recommendation that was based on survey data of usual consumption.
Of course, water -- clean, refreshing, and calorie-free -- is an ideal
beverage of choice but studies have shown that you can be just as
hydrated with coffee, soft drinks, or even beer. And some folks swear by its weight
loss powers, including Mireille Guiliano, author of the best-selling book
French Women Don't Get Fat.
To help make the facts about water crystal clear, WebMD asked experts for
the skinny on just how much water we need, and whether drinking water can
really help keep those extra calories at bay.
The New Fluid Guidelines
A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Physiology
questioned the old recommendation of 8 ounces of water, eight times a day.
After a thorough review, researcher Heinz Valtin concluded there was inadequate
evidence that healthy adults -- living in temperate climates and not engaged in
rigorous activities -- need large amounts of water.
For normal, healthy adults, Valtin recommended simply drinking when thirsty.
And he reported that even caffeinated drinks can count toward satisfying our
In February 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new recommendations
that agree with Valtin's findings. The new guidelines remove the
eight-glasses-a-day recommendation, and say healthy adults may use thirst to
determine their fluid needs. Exceptions to this rule include anyone with a
medical condition requiring fluid control; athletes; and people taking part in
prolonged physical activities or whose living conditions are extreme.
How Much Is Enough?
The IOM report did not specify requirements for water but made general fluid
intake recommendations based on survey data of 91 ounces (that's 11-plus cups a
day) for women and 125 ounces (15-plus cups a day) for men. Remember, these
guidelines are for total fluid intake, including fluid from all food and