Gem of the Week: Forget 8 Glasses of Water a Day

AlexBClark/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/37072792@N06/4292188381/sizes/z/in/photostream/">Flickr</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


For many years, people have been told they should drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. That’s 64 ounces, or nearly 2 liters. This week,  Scottish practitioner Margaret McCartney is calling it “thoroughly debunked nonsense” in the current issue of the British Medical Journal.

McCartney took on medical claims disseminated by Hydration for Health, a water-pushing health organization created by the company that owns Volvic and Evian. McCartney wrote that she did not see any high-quality scientific literature provided by Hydration for Health proving drinking so much water was essential. In fact, she found evidence that mental performance suffers when people drink more water than they’re thirsty for. “In other words, there is still no evidence that we need to drink more than we naturally want, and there may be unintended harms from an enforcement to drink more water,” McCartney wrote.

While McCartney didn’t see evidence backing up the 2-liter-a-day rule, she did see bottled water companies pushing the “water=health” idea to sell more of their products. As McCartney wrote on her blog: “The bottled water industry is pushing the idea that we should drink more than we normally would with the promise of health benefits, and I don’t think there are any. That’s all. And I would recommend tap rather than bottled water: cheaper, and far better for environment.” The bottled water companies were not happy with McCartney’s attitude. In response, the European Federation of Bottled Waters wrote a letter to BMJ about McCartney’s article and cited a recommendation that “at least two liters of water should be consumed per day.”

The British National Health Service still recommends that everyone drink “six to eight glasses” a day, but in the US, the Mayo Clinic’s site says that the eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day “isn’t really supported by scientific evidence” and that “if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty” and produce enough clear or light yellow urine a day, you should be fine.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate