Is This the Biggest Beauty Lie You’ve Been Believing?
By Carolyn Hsu |
You’ve surely heard this advice – or maybe even doled it out a few times: Drink eight glasses of water a day for beautiful skin and a healthy body.
As it turns out, that’s a longstanding myth from the 1940s that just refuses to die, says Aaron E. Carroll, a pediatrics professor from Indiana University School of Medicine. In a New York Times piece, Carroll sources the origins of this common belief to a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that said people needed 2.5 liters of water a day. What everyone ignored, however, was the explanation that “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”
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Carroll first debunked the water myth back in a medical paper in 2007, but says that public opinion hasn’t changed at all over the majority of a decade since. “There's no real scientific proof that, for otherwise healthy people, drinking extra water has any health benefits,” he writes.
While downing eight glasses a day may not be a magic formula, experts agree that it is important to stay hydrated, regardless of the source of hydration.
“Every organ and body system depends on water to function properly. The optimal amount of intake varies depending on one’s health, activity and geographical location, but can be consumed through drinking water or eating water-rich foods like watermelon and spinach,” says New York dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD. “Research from the Institute of Medicine found that men need approximately 13 cups and women need about nine cups of total fluid intake from water and foods.”
“It’s true that the skin needs water, just like every part of your body, to function properly, but as long as you drink enough fluids to maintain body hydration, you’re fine,” adds Chevy Chase, MD, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD. “It’s never been proven scientifically that if you drink more water, you’ll have more beautiful skin.”