Monday, February 28, 2005

FLUSH!

I am always coming across the claim that we should all drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Drinking water is supposed to 'flush you out,' 'get rid of toxins,' and so on. People write and talk about the benefits of drinking lots of water as if this is a proven scientific fact and we should feel bad about not taking proper care of ourselves if we don't drink the mythical eight glasses of water a day. Lots of people do feel bad about it, I've noticed.

(Aside: The 'getting rid of toxins' thing always triggers my bullshit detector, and I am particularly fond of a Michael Leunig cartoon in which a man is standing with his arms out and looking down at his body, which is erupting gunk from various random places and apparently falling apart. "Look Beryl!" he is saying delightedly. "The toxins are coming out!")

Anyway, back to the water thing. I looked it up, to find out what scientific research has been done, and found this. If you can't make it through the whole thing (it is worth reading, though) this part from the concluding comments is enough to at least stop you from feeling bad about the amount of water you are not drinking:

Despite an extensive search of the literature and many personal inquiries and discussions with nutritionists and colleagues (see SEARCH STRATEGY, end of article), I have found no scientific reports concluding that we all must "drink at least eight glasses of water a day." On the contrary, there are publications that state the opposite (38, 46, 52), and skepticism about 8 X 8 has begun to appear in the lay press (5, 7-9, 20, 39, 58, 78, 88). Not only is there no scientific evidence that we need to drink that much, but the recommendation could be harmful, both in precipitating potentially dangerous hyponatremia and exposure to pollutants and also in making many people feel guilty for not drinking enough.
So there you go. The next time someone tells you that drinking eight glasses of water is essential in your daily life you can repeat that last sentence to them:

"OH YEAH? Not only is there no scientific evidence that we need to drink that much, but the recommendation could be harmful, both in precipitating potentially dangerous hyponatremia and exposure to pollutants and also in making many people feel guilty for not drinking enough. Bite me."

(You might need to rehearse.)





Totally irrelevant funny link: If your computer screen is dirty you might like to try this. (Warning: uses Flash, and takes a while to load.)

3 comments:

Andy said...

Hey, I've come across that article as well. It makes me feel better that all those people walking around with water bottles, drinking constantly as though they thought they would live forever, aren't actually helping themselves at all.

I'm just stopping by from Blog Explosion, and thought I'd let you know that I've enjoyed what I've read so far on the site.

suki said...

And drinking all that water makes you need to run to the restroom A LOT... :P I know, I tried.

E.P. said...

Amen, GoodAunt! :) I read that article (or one on the same topic) a good while ago, and it made me think of something Mencken said: "there is no idea so stupid that you can't find a professor who will believe in it."

The "experts" all contradict each other: one year, eggs are The Great Satan; the next year, nahhhh, no problem, The Great Satan turns out to have some sort of built-in substance which cancels out its (formerly lambasted) putative perniciousness (Hey, that's reminiscent of U.S. foreign policy, isn't it! First, Saddamn H. is our "ally"; then all of a sudden, he's the Middle Eastern Hitler.) Ditto for diets: for several years, fat is The ArchEnemy. Then all of a sudden, it's carbs.

Next thing you know, they'll be touting a Twinkies diet. Sheesh.