There is little evidence for or against any of the supposed benefits of extra water, such as increased toxin excretion, improved skin tone, lessened hunger, and reduced headache frequency.
Every day your body loses water through urine and sweat, and this fluid needs to be replenished. Fortunately, your body is already equipped with a virtually foolproof mechanism that tells you when you need to replenish your water supply -- it’s called thirst!
Why Do You Need Water?
You can actually survive without food for months, but without water you’d die after a few days, so needless to say, water is absolutely essential to life.
Your body is made up mostly of water, which:
- Is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption and elimination
- Aids your circulation
- Helps control your body's temperature
- Lubricates and cushions your joints
- Keeps your skin healthy
- Helps remove toxins from your body
But do you need to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day?
That’s the recommendation we’ve all been traditionally told. The article above is actually not offering proof that this recommendation is wrong, per se. It’s simply a review of the available research on water’s ability to improve your health when ingested in larger amounts, such as 8 glasses a day or more.
Its conclusion that increased water intake has no discernible health benefits might be a bit misleading, however.
For example, the research on water intake and reduction in migraine headaches showed that 15 patients with migraines, who were assigned to increase their water intake for two weeks, had 21 hours less migraines compared to the control group. However, the difference was not considered to be statistically significant. If you suffer from migraines, you might disagree…
Your Body Tells You How Much Water it Needs – Here’s How
A few years ago I too began to question the general recommendation of eight glasses of water per day, which led to my refined recommendations on water intake.
Since your body is capable of telling you its needs, using thirst and the color of your urine as guides to how much water you should be drinking are good ways of ensuring your individual needs are met, day-by-day.
As long as you are not taking riboflavin (vitamin B2), which fluoresces and turns your urine bright yellow (it is also in most multi-vitamins), then your urine should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water.
When your body begins to lose from 1 percent to 2 percent of its total water, your thirst mechanism lets you know that it’s time to drink some water. If you are healthy, then drinking whenever you feel thirsty should be an adequate guide of how much water you need. You can confirm whether you are drinking enough water by looking at the color of your urine, as mentioned above.
Of course, if it’s hot, exceptionally dry outside or you are engaged in exercise or other vigorous activity, you will require more water than normal so be sure to stay well hydrated in these cases.
Additionally, as you get older your thirst mechanism works less efficiently so older adults will want to be sure to drink water regularly, and again make sure your urine is a light, pale color.
Keep in mind that quenching your thirst with substitutes such as sodas, coffee or sugary fruit juices is NOT the same as drinking pure water! Both coffee and soda are high in caffeine, which acts as a diuretic that will dehydrate you even further. And then of course you have the issue of sugar and HFCS – but I will not rant about that here.
Water is Water, Right?
Not so fast!
Even more important than how much water you should be drinking is what type of water you should drink.
The answer is clean spring water and water that has been filtered by reversed osmosis -- I do not recommend drinking either tap water or distilled water. Contrary to the traditional belief, it’s also important to avoid fluoridated water.
Distillation is the process in which water is boiled, evaporated, and the vapor condensed back to liquid water. Although it’s a controversial stance, I am firmly convinced that regular and consistent use of distilled water is harmful to your health. If you want VISUAL proof, just take a look at these photographs!
Distilled water has the wrong ionization, pH, polarization and oxidation potentials, and if you drink it for too long it can drain your body of necessary minerals. This happens because distilled water is like a vacuum without any minerals, so it will actually leach beneficial minerals from your body to balance it out. While this might be beneficial for a short period during some sort of detoxification regimen, it’s usually highly counter-productive in the long run.
Distilled water is also highly acidic. Most of us are far too acidic already and the last thing we need to be drinking is a fluid that will make us even more acidic.
Distilled water is usually touted as beneficial because of its lack of contaminants. However, many of the devices that distill water are made of metal, which will actually add certain toxic metals like nickel back to the water and worsen your health.
Why You Should Avoid Bottled Water
Filtering your own water is important because you really want to avoid bottled water as much as possible.
Not only is bottled water a major strain on the environment, but a lot of bottled water is no cleaner than tap water. In fact, about 40 percent of bottled water IS regular tap water, which may or may not have received any additional treatment.
The metal antimony (a silvery white metal of medium hardness) has been found in many commercially bottled water brands, for example. The amount of antimony leeching into the water you're drinking depends on the manufacturer, and can vary greatly. One study that looked at 63 brands of bottled water produced in Europe and Canada, found concentrations of antimony that were more than 100 times the typical level found in clean groundwater (2 parts per trillion).
It’s also been found that the longer a bottle of water sits on a shelf -- in a grocery store or your refrigerator – the greater the dose of antimony present. The biggest offenders were packaged in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers. It is believed that the amount of antimony leeching from these PET bottles differs based on exposure to sunlight, higher temperatures, and varying pH levels.
Most municipal tap water -- though generally far from pure -- must actually adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water industry. In one study, a third of more than 100 bottled water brands tested for contaminants were found to contain chemicals like arsenic and carcinogenic compounds, at levels exceeding state or industry standards.
Additionally, fluoride (a highly toxic bone poison that should be avoided at all costs) is usually present in both tap water AND filtered bottled water.
Nalgene bottles should also be avoided as they can leach another unsafe chemical called BPA into your water. Glass bottles are best, but if you’re traveling and can’t use a glass bottle, the high-density polyethelene (HDPE) Nalgene bottles appear to be a safer choice, so far.