Healthy water consumption: What do we need?

Are we in danger of becoming waterlogged

  • What is healthy water consumption?
  • Who benefits from our devotion to bottled water
  • A doctor has spoken – find out what she said

Having been lashed by several more gallons of rain this week whilst out with the dog, I must admit that I know what it is like to feel drenched.

But today’s letter isn’t about the foul weather… it is about a modern fascination with drinking water, and trying to work out what healthy water consumption is.

When I look around I see people of all ages carrying bottles of the stuff and swigging away in the office, on the bus, out jogging or just sitting in the car.

We regularly hear and read that we should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, but does this have a base in fact?

How big are these glasses? Tumblers, shot glasses or pint pots?

Should we be having cold water, fizzy water, warm water?

I decided to take a look at the topic in a little more detail…

…and what I discovered will not come as a surprise to Good Life Letter readers!

It all comes down to money once again.

The story of modern water

There is a huge commercial interest in plain old water.

We are bombarded with adverts telling us that it comes from the heart of an extinct volcano; arises out of prehistoric artesian wells or is flavoured with exotic fruit essence etc etc.

Water is big business here in the West. It is no laughing matter elsewhere in the world.

A lack of rain lays huge tracts of Africa and Asia to waste, bringing starvation and death to millions of people each year.

This compound of hydrogen and oxygen is THE vital elixir of life, one that our bodies recognise and has some pretty sophisticated systems in place to manage.

Why then do we need to be told how much to drink, and where to get it from?

Given that our bodies have a very competent way of telling us when we need more water, should it really be the case that we have to drink 8 glasses of water a day…every day?

How is it that a plastic bottle of water has become a fashion item for the busy commuter, lunch time jogger or shopper?

Just look around any office and you will see a plethora of bottled water on show. In every corner lurks a water dispenser.

It was back in 1945 that the Ministry of Health said that we should all aim to drink the equivalent of 2½ litres of water a day, however, it has only been in the last decade that anyone listened to them.

Mind you the people who listened most were the major water bottling companies like Danone.

These companies make hundreds of millions of pounds a year from flogging us a product that we either don’t need or can get from any number of sources for free.

And I am not talking about what we get from our taps either.

The simple truth about how we manage water in our bodies

We get fluid from our food, from the air we breathe and from the drinks we take on board.

It is estimated that over half of the water we need during day will be provided from the food we eat, even more so if we have higher levels of fruit and vegetables in our diets.

Upto 70% of the adult body is composed of water, and during each day we lose some of it through sweating, excretion of waste and every time we breathe out.

So it stands to reason that we need to replace that which we lose.

If we don’t we would dehydrate. Our concentration would suffer, we would get severe headaches and eventually would die.

Serious stuff.

But our bodies recognise the sign that we are getting short of our vital fluid by a very sneaky way…we feel thirsty.

I’m sure this is no great news to you, in fact, you may well be feeling in need of a libation right now.

Within us we have a very effective system for dealing with our hydration. It is called the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone system.

This clever process involves part of the brain, the hypothalamus, sensing how much water there is in our blood.

If it senses that there is too much it orders the kidneys to dump more out into our urine, get rid of more in our stools and increases the amount we sweat out.

If there is too little it reverses all of these processes, and makes us feel thirsty.

This is how we maintain our blood pressure and volume – sounds simple doesn’t it, and more importantly fool-proof.

Guess what it really is.

Now scientists have finally agreed that we do alright on our own when it comes to getting enough water.

At long last a doctor has said it like it is – WE DON’T NEED TO DRINK all of that water. It may well be that healthy water consumption just means eating a better fresh food diet.

Published in the British Medical Journal a few years ago I came across the work of Dr Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow based GP and in her article she clearly stated that the drive to get us to drink more water is nothing but blatant marketing by corporate entities.

Her paper shows that the moisture we consume in food and from other sources is significantly under reported and the maxim about drinking our recommended amount is taken literally by those who profit from it.

Dr McCartney said people should “say no” to organisations that like to tell doctors and patients what to do.

I’ll drink to that, but maybe not water!