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Updated 02 October 2015

8 glasses a day a myth

Drinking six to eight glasses of water daily is not scientifically proven to be healthy, experts say.

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Research shows that it is a myth that one should drink six to eight glasses of water daily for good health.

According to Harvard Health, this myth might have started in the 1940s when the American National Academy of Sciences published a recommended daily allowance of 1 millilitre of fluid for each calorie burned.

A survey conducted in 2000 for the Rockerfeller University and the International Bottled Water Association amongst 2 818 adults in 14 cities raised concerns that Americans are becoming dehydrated. However, their survey did not take into account the fluid intake through other fluids such as sodas, coffee, milk and juice.

More recently, a kidney specialist at Dartmouth Medical School who reviewed all research on the topic, confirmed that there is no evidence that people need to drink eight glasses of water a day. In fact, drinking large amounts of water a day may result in dissolution of the salt concentration in the body.

More water myths

According to the University of Pennsylvania's Dr Stanley Goldfarb, who has done extensive research on water intake, other myths with regards to water intake include:

1. Drinking a lot of water suppresses appetite. Many people drink water before and during the meal to try to suppress their appetite, yet there is no consistent evidence that water suppresses appetite. "Because you absorb water so quickly and it moves through the GI tract so quickly, it probably doesn't fill you up the way people have proposed, nor does it lead to the release of hormones which suppress appetite as far as we know," Goldfarb says.

2. Filling up on water flushes toxins from the body. This is not how the kidney works, the expert explains. "When you drink a lot of water you end up having a larger volume of urine but don't necessarily increase the excretion of various constituents of the urine."

3. Water reduces headaches. It does not, according to the evidence.

4. Water drinking improves your skin. According to Goldfarb, there is no data to suggest that it actually improves the water content of the skin.

 
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