A lot of what we think about water comes from conventional wisdom, but we don’t spend a lot of time looking into where that wisdom comes from—or if it’s even as wise as it claims to be. Once you start digging around, however, you might be surprised to discover the real story.
Let’s take a look at the truth behind five common assumptions about water.
1. Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day
Interestingly, no one is really sure where this myth comes from. The prevailing theory is that someone turned a report that stated people generally drink eight cups of fluids a day into some sort of daily water intake mandate.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t drink a lot of water, but remember that fluid intake can come from water dense foods such as fruits and vegetables. Consider this common notion a guide to base your own personal water intake levels on and factor in activity levels and health, among other things. Hydrate in advance of exercise, otherwise drink water when thirsty or hungry since hunger pains are also a sign of dehydration.
2. Water Gives You Energy
This one is actually a bit tricky. It’s not exactly wrong—it’s just that most people misinterpret the reasons behind it. You see, water itself cannot provide energy; only calories can give you energy, and water doesn’t provide calories.
The source of this myth comes from the results of recovering from dehydration. If you’re dehydrated, you might feel sluggish, tired, dizzy and confused. Drinking water will alleviate these symptoms and make you feel a lot better. So it’s not water giving you the energy burst—it’s a result of your body feeling rehydrated and rejuvenated.
3. Drinking Water Helps You Lose Weight
This is another one that has some truth to it, but only if you understand the reasoning behind it. Water itself does nothing to promote weight loss, given its lack of nutritional value. But it can be a useful tool for people trying to drop a few pounds, in a few ways.
One, by sticking with water, you’re likely eliminating other beverage options such as sugary sodas or coffee with flavored creamer. Cutting those beverages out of your daily intake can have a significant impact on your total caloric intake. Second, continuously drinking water throughout the day can help boost your metabolic rate, which plays a large role in weight loss. Third, water makes you feel full, especially if you drink a couple of glasses before sitting down to a meal.
4. Any Plastic Container Will Do
Here’s a myth that is flat-out false. We recently published a post about reusable water bottles and tips for finding the best option for you. And if you’re thinking about reusing old milk jugs or soda bottles, think again:
- Milk jugs are biodegradable and will break down over time. Also, any live cultures in the milk that remain in your jug could make you ill if you store drinking/cooking water in milk jugs.
- Disposable water bottles are not great for long-term storage. Water can be stored for long-term use in re-useable Nalgene bottles.
- Soda bottles and sports drink bottles can be used for more short-term water storage if you don’t have other options. However, it’s important to remember that plastics absorb flavors and are capable of leeching chemicals. For those reasons, it’s best to choose food-grade glass and keep water bottles out of the heat and direct sunlight.
5. Water Helps With Detox
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering out and eliminating toxins. Dehydration can hamper waste elimination, but excess water consumption over a short time period can lead to hypernatremia – a dilution of sodium levels in your blood. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania, warns that drinking large amounts of water may actually hinder your kidneys’ ability to act as a filter. Lesson here is to not to overdo it; consider things like your weight, activity levels, environment, medical conditions and your physician’s advice when deciding on your daily water intake.