We’ve all heard it before: Drink at least two liters of water a day. However, it looks like you can put down that oversized bottle of H2O and pick up your favorite glass of juice instead. According to health experts, we don’t need to gulp down that much water in a day for optimal hydration.
Academic and public health expert, Spero Tsindos, examines water consumption in the latest edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. He writes that our bodies need around two liters of fluid each day, but that does not mean that all of it needs to come from water.
Tsindos suggests that fruits, vegetables and juices can be just as beneficial for hydration and should play a role in our daily fluid consumption. He even goes on to say that coffee and tea add to our daily fluid intake. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink water. I’m saying the need to drink two liters of water on a regular basis is a complete myth,” he explains. “We should be telling people that beverages like tea and coffee contribute to a person’s fluid needs and, despite their caffeine content, do not lead to dehydration.”
In fact, he believes that those who encourage people to drink so much water are inspired by vested interests rather than health concerns. “Thirty years ago you didn’t see a plastic water bottle anywhere, now they appear as fashion accessories,” he says. “As tokens of instant gratification and symbolism, the very bottle itself is seen as cool and hip.”
Sales of bottled water have risen in tandem with guidance from entities such as the National Health Service, who tell individuals to drink large volumes of water. Tsindos adds that the NHS reinforces eight glasses of water a day without any substantial evidence to support it.
He also disputes claims that large amounts of water can contribute to weight loss. “Drinking large amounts of water does not alone cause weight loss. A low-calorie diet is also required,” he says. “Research has also revealed that water in food eaten has a greater benefit in weight reduction than avoiding foods altogether.”
Overall, he does stand by water as an important component for our health and that it is necessary to stay hydrated. It is simply a misconception that everyone needs eight glasses of pure water a day. “The best rule of thumb is to drink when you are thirsty,” he says. “You can expect that in a healthy diet you will be thirsty less often and as such, drink less water.”
As a caveat, while you can get hydrated from juice, it’s important to keep in mind that even freshly-squeezed fruits and vegetables can contain high amounts of sugar which can lead to weight gain and skin problems.
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