The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

eight glasses of bullshit a day

It being a new year and all, I've been trying to clean up my act. For someone who already doesn't drink alcohol or coffee (the latter gives me migraines) and has no interest in anything requiring filling my lungs full of smoke, this has culminated in New Year's Resolutions about exercise and breakfast, and also a vague commitment to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

I read in a book (you know, those things made of paper that exist offline) that a good way to keep track of your eight glasses is to count how many gulps you take when you drink a glass and then try to drink eight times that number of gulps every day. It's quite handy, although I've been converting my gulps into half and quarter glasses cos otherwise I forget where I'm up to. I just thought I'd pass that on, dear readers, because I thought it was a damn fine idea.

But then I actually started drinking all this water. And I discovered that my office is rather a long way from the toilet. Which started me wondering - if so much of this water is, ahem, passing through me, do I really need it all? And how come I got by reasonably well for all this time without drinking all this water?

But then I thought, well how much damage could I really be doing myself by drinking too much water, except perhaps wearing holes in my shoes from all the walks to the conveniences, and decided to persevere for a bit longer.

I mentioned all of this to a friend of mine, who is rather the sceptic (in fact I'm 98% sure he's a signed up member of the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists so favoured by Paul and Xavier) and he made a sarky comment that tipped me over the edge from slight cynicism to medium conspiracy theorism.

Here's the International Bottled Water Association's website. You didn't even know there was such a thing as the International Bottled Water Association, did you? Anyway, do the IBWA's hydration calculation for yourself and you'll no doubt discover you in fact "need" considerably more than even 8 glasses a day. (For readers who are more inclined to metrics [like myself] here is a handy metric conversion site.)

There's an interesting article on some big flash report on water intake from Dr Heinz Valtin, who's a professor of physiology at Dartmouth. Here's the money quote:

...he finds it, "difficult to believe that evolution left us with a chronic water deficit that needs to be compensated by forcing a high fluid intake."

Ok I'm convinced - the eight glasses theory is at least a crock and at worst a ploy to get us all to buy bottled water at a time when health conscious consumers are turning away from the other products sold by those who peddle plastic-wrapped H20 - soft drinks.


Rich said...

I'd believe the professor, too.

I think it's really bad how advertisers are allowed to make pseudo-medical claims for their products. I think the worst are the "eat red meat five times a week" ads - that can't be good for you!

Mr Stupid said...

Mr Snopes has the skinny on the eight glasses:

It's a rule of thumb, and it includes water ingested through food. However, since my kidney stone last year I personally try to drink as much as possible. A constant flow of water through the kidneys is supposed to be a good way to flush out all those little crystals that are constantly forming before they become a large, painful problem. And if I wear a track between my desk and the bathroom, well I need the exercise too ...

That being said, I'll be stone cold dead before I buy bottled water. Straight from the tap from me, and by preference left overnight in the freezer for a crisp taste.

Make Tea Not War said...

I read somewhere that the 8 glasses of water a day thing was made up by a woman's magazine journalist in the 1920s. I wish I could remember where.

Michael said...

You lose about 2 litres of water a day in perspiration/other loss and that has to be replaced.

Fortunately, if you eat your 5+ veges and fruit you're 90% of the way there as they include lots of water.

In NZ, tap water is of such a high standard (there are a few exceptions) that bottled water has no benefit.

Maria von Trapp said...

I haven't read the other comments because I don't have time so someone might have already mentioned it, but, apparently (and xavier will probably once again be the expert) things like soup, your daily coffee, tea, lettuce (and other fruit and veg), etc, etc, even soft drink, all contribute to your 8 glass "requirement." I'll ask my sister-in-law who is a nutritionist and come back to you.

Kakariki said...

I reckon your bladder (or whatever) gets used to the increase water intake after a while and you don't need to pee so much after a while. If that's any help :)