Who decided we needed 8 glasses of water?

I was listening to Dr. Dean Edell on the radio last week, and he said that there’s no earthly reason to drink 64 ounces of water everyday, unless, of course, you really enjoy urinating. I’ve always wondered why people insisted other liquids had no water in them. He says that much of our food contains water. He says that if your urine has no color, you’re overdoing the water bit. Of course, he made an exception for people exerting themselves in hot weather. So who knows where that “Eight Glasses” a day rule originated and if there was any credible basis for it?

I think it was one of those nutty ideas that someone got from somewhere, or maybe misunderstood something. Maybe it is what you generally need from all sources and they decided only actual water counted. I have noticed that the only thing that happens when I try it is I spend all day peeing. The advice is often accompanied by the information that the feeling of thirst is unreliable and kicks in only when you are desparately dehydrated. What a crock! In fact, I read maybe a year ago of someone dying from an overdose of water. Something like 12 glasses was enough to mortally change the electrolyte balance in the blood.

It’s called “drowning”.

Anyways, try this

There may also be a bit of a conflation of what is recomended in special cases with what is recommended in everyday cases. Dr. Edell’s exception MAY be a clue to the source… I can easily see how a (fitness, sports team, rehabilitative therapy, military) trainer would have a good, solid point in telling someone entering a physical regimen (probably tied in with a diet) to increase water intake even if “not thirsty”, since the person may not properly adjust unprompted, and better to have him take frequent potty breaks than pass out in mid-exercise. Someone may have drawn the conclusion that if forcing down water is good for someone trying to (win olympic gold/come back from life-threatening disease/Be All that He Can Besup[/sup] ), it must be absolutely great for every Joe Blow out there.

Its answered on the board a few times & also snopes.com I think Cecil answered it also very well,
but for some reason, I can’t get on http://www.straightdope.com/ right now to search for it. nuts

Handy, were you looking for this link?

Can water be too pure? Is too much water bad for you? 08-Feb-2002

The column doesn’t mention the 8 glasses guideline, but does mention the Barrett 1998 Chicago Marathon hyponatremia death (water intoxication).

The source for this misinfo is not elusive.

From a newspaper article cited here: http://www.tafkac.org/medical/eight_glasses_of_water.html

Bleach, it was in snopes.com but we have talked about it on the board before.

I see they have a much much better article on snopes now about it:

I hope it meant 1 ml/kcal… or else you’d need a litre for every unit that we think of as a calorie! :eek:

I drink nearly 2 gallons of water a day. Sometimes more if I am doing something where I sweat alot.
If I don’t drink that much, my thinking gets fuzzy, my mouth and eyes get all dry, and I become thirsty quickly. Of course I am very physcially active, YMMV

OK, now I’m worried. I have a friend who drinks about 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of water a day. Is he drinking too much?

I do not know how much water a person needs each day, but consider:

  1. Digestion requires water. Particularly for protein and fat.

  2. Water losses through various forms of excretion and respiration. Suppose you urinate 8 times a day and each time you remove 600ml of urine. That’s 4800ml of water right there.

The only reason that too much water may be deleterious to your health is due to hyponatremia, and you’re not likely to get that unless you are exercising for a long time in hot weather, when you excrete a lot of sodium in your sweat. It’s possible to so dilute your sodium level without that, but that would be highly unlikely. If your friend has been doing this for a while without any ill effects, he’s OK. It’s better to drink too much than too little, within limits.

Phew, thanks! Yeah, he’s been drinking that much for at least a year, so I guess he’s OK.

The one fairly well-established benefit of drinking larger volumes of water–less strain on your kidneys, less chance of kidney stones.

Whose idea? Perhaps the vendors of bottled water:


Hey Speaker of the Dead,

Whenever people discuss dietary calories, it is assumed to be kCals unless specifically specified that it isn’t, and it wasn’t.

And in case you were wondering, the 83 ounces is liquid ounces, not dry ounces.


Bravo!! That just sounds like a feat of some kind to me. I can’t imagine drinking that much. Even when I try to drink “extra” water I have trouble drinking more than a couple of quarts. I do know this gentleman, long time friend of the family’s, in his 80s,
who I can remember years ago (and probably still does) had this habit of going to the kitchen sink first thing upon rising in the morning and downing several glass fulls of water one right after the other. Everyone else blindly groping for coffee and he would consume a gaggy amount of water. Excellent health, has always looked 20 years younger than you’d think.

No Need to Guzzle All That Water, Expert Says