We’ve all heard it said that we should all drink eight or more glasses of water per day. Is this accurate, or is this just one of those old saws that gets repeated so often that people assume it must be true?
The reality is that there are few scientific studies that address the topic. One study by the European Food Safety Authority found that women should have an intake of about 2 liters of water per day (about
8 glasses’ worth), and men 2.5 liters—but this recommendation includes the water inside food, which of course varies with diet. These recommendations were based on the assumption of a moderate temperature and a moderate amount of physical activity. Of course, the need for water increases dramatically with intensive exercise, with heat and humidity, and also if one is suffering from fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Now there’s clearly nothing wrong with aiming for eight glasses of water per day, since dehydration is surprisingly easy to achieve and presents a risk for bladder cancer and even heart disease. I once was shocked to discover that I was dehydrated when I went to get my blood drawn at a lab, and my level of dehydration made that task impossible for the nurse. I felt fine—I had no clue that I was dehydrated—but I apparently was. So there’s no downside to making an extra effort to ensure that we’re properly hydrated, and there could be considerable health benefits.
But eight glasses of water a day? Let’s say you awake at 8 a.m. and decide to have a glass of water every two hours until you reach the daily goal of eight glasses. You’d have to have a glass at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. It sounds pretty daunting. Does anyone really live that way?
So here’s a more manageable way to stay hydrated. Your key to success is the morning. Sleep, after all, is somewhat dehydrating. As soon as you wake up and rinse out your mouth, drink at least one glass (and two is better) of water. Then have a breakfast like oatmeal (or oat bran, or buckwheat, or other grain) that will provide an ample quantity of water that gets absorbed into the cooked grain. Top that oatmeal with fruits like berries or grapes or chopped pears or apples. These fruits are mostly water by weight. At some point in the morning, either with your breakfast or afterwards, have a cup of green tea. So, between
your initial glass (or two) of water, your oatmeal, your fruits, and your tea, you’ve already had at least half of the eight glasses of water per day you’re aiming for.
It’ll be no sweat to obtain at least the equivalent of four more glasses of water with the rest of the day ahead of you. Have a glass of water with lunch and dinner (ignore the myth that you shouldn’t drink water while eating meals), enjoy a cup of tea in the afternoon or evening, and make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and you’ll exceed the target.
Your cleanest source of water will be the water inside fruits and vegetables—pure, plant-filtered water. Is there any water in flesh foods? Yes, there’s a little bit, some of which is what is euphemistically called “retained water.” It’s the water sprayed on the carcasses in slaughterhouses to clean the carcasses from fecal matter and other pathogens. Does that sound refreshing? In grocery stores, I’ve seen many types of water sold—spring water, glacier water, distilled water, alkaline water, reverse osmosis water—but I’ve yet to see bottled slaughterhouse water.
Water, you see, is just another reason to go vegan.