Our ancestors didn’t walk with a bottle of Evian in their hand. Why do we believe that now we have to drink all day long?
Let’s see what are the “recommendations”, and why I refuse to follow them.
- Drink how much? The recommendations
- Drinking too much: the problems
- Dry fasting
- Any exceptions?
- The solution
I will be brief because (unfortunately) you may know the recommendations a bit too well:
You have to drink all the time, one to two liters a day (or eight glasses).
Avoid dehydration? Eliminate something? The message is never very clear, and it’s no wonder: in fact, the more you drink, the more you eliminate… water! Which is therefore useless, besides using the kidneys unnecessarily.
By the way, have you ever wondered WHO makes these recommendations? Misinformation is conveyed by many health media, without ever quoting any valid source…
What are these recommendations based on? I didn’t find anything to support the fact that we need to drink a lot. What has been proven is that dehydration is harmful to the body. But it would be a serious scientific mistake to conclude that we must drink a lot.
The plants need water, but if you water them too much, they die…
The promised benefits that you may find here and there about drinking a lot of water are numerous:
- help with concentration
- more energy
- less headache
- helps detoxify the body
- help against constipation
- help against kidney stones
- help against bladder cancer
- help against urinary tract infections
- cleans the skin
- detoxifies the liver
As I just said, these arguments were based on the dangers of dehydration. But there is no need to drink 2 liters to avoid dehydration! Far from there!
Unless you have a special medical condition, drinking too much isn’t beneficial… in anything!
Dehydration is a danger to the body. It’s true. But we scare the crowds with that, making them believe that we must force ourselves to drink a lot to be properly hydrated. It isn’t true. The body is well designed and you will have a real feeling of thirst far before risking any dehydration.
Yellow urine means that you drink the right amount of water. If it’s too bright, you drink too much. If it’s too dark or brown, you are dehydrated. It’s as simple as that.
In any case, you can count on your body to tell you when it’s (really) thirsty.
Note: don’t confuse a “desire to drink” with a real “thirst”.
Quantity and quality can’t be addressed separately. The quality of the water we drink deteriorates a little more each day. Everyone is lost and wondering what water to drink.
Bottled water (mineral water or spring water) often seems to be the best solution. But it contains three problems. On the one hand, the plastic bottles are found in the water, and we drink it (unless you use glass bottles, but it’s rather rare…). Secondly, many water tables are beginning to show signs of pollution. Thirdly, plastic bottles are not an environmentally friendly solution. This solution is therefore far from perfect.
Tap water is safe to drink, but it contains chlorine, fluorine, heavy metals and endocrine disruptors. Admittedly, the doses are low, but it’s still scary. This is the solution I use.
There are a lot of filters, more or less effective. No filter really manages to remove harmful substances while keeping the minerals initially contained in the water. In particular, the filter decanters quickly turn into a microbe nest.
The reverse osmosis filter is the only one that really eliminates all harmful substances. The problem (apart from the price) is that it also removes all minerals.
The fluids management within the body requires the use of minerals. If you drink large quantities of mineral-free water, you force your body to use its reserves to restore the balance.
That being said, this remains a safe solution if your diet provides you with enough minerals.
Drinking more water than necessary may seem harmless. It isn’t so. Beyond certain quantities, it can become dangerous.
As we have seen, every water contains its problem. The important question isn’t which water to drink, but rather:
How much water should I drink?
If you drink too much water, you over use your kidneys by forcing them to work constantly.
If the water contains toxic substances, you risk saturating the detoxification mechanism of the body.
If the water doesn’t contain minerals, you force your body to use your mineral reserves.
In addition, it has never been proven that drinking a lot eliminates anything (except the water you just drank…).
The management of fluids in the body requires the intervention of minerals. In these fluids there is a balance between the amount of water and the amount of minerals. If the amount of water becomes too much, the body must fetch into its mineral reserves to restore the balance. In the long run, this can trigger deficiencies3 appears to be more than enough.
Drinking is a natural mechanism, but it isn’t well understood yet. A study4, however, has shown that swallowing becomes more difficult if the body no longer needs water.
Your body knows how to guide you, provided you try to listen to it.
When it comes to hydration, there are 3 types of foods: those that hydrate, those that are neutral, and those that dehydrate.
Nature is well done: our ancestors had only rarely access to water, so they hydrated mostly through their diet. Not surprisingly, foods that dehydrate are mainly processed foods.
- dehydrated foods (chips, crackers, crackers, etc.)
- processed foods (industrial food)
- foods rich in sugars (sweets, jam, chocolate, etc.)
- foods high in carbs (cereals, bread, etc.)
- alcohol and coffee if consumed in very large quantities (2 coffees or 2 teas are completely fine)
The carbs metabolism uses a lot of water. The more you eat (sugar or carbs), the more you need to drink. That’s probably why we are told to drink constantly…
A study5 proves that drinking water is a good thing for obese children. Indeed, a diet rich in processed and sweet foods causes an imbalance, and requires a significant water intake. The amount of water you need is directly related to your diet. A recommendation of hydration that doesn’t take into account what you eat cannot make any sense.
- fruits (watermelon, melon, peach, apple, etc.)
- some vegetables (cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, etc.)
By choosing this type of diet, you ensures a regular water intake for your body. It is especially at the level of the colon that the water is extracted from the bolus (digested food), which ensures a suitable and continuous hydration.
Note: a study on a Bolivian population6 could show that it was best to hydrate from water from fruits and vegetables rather than drinking unsafe water.
Each percent increase in water obtained from food was associated with a reduced risk of gastrointestinal illness.
Does this sound obvious to you? Keep in mind that the quality of our water is far from perfect. Also, this study proves that it’s possible to change the percentage of water from food against water you drink.
Digestion, including carbohydrate management, is the mechanism that uses the most water. During a dry fast (without food or drink), the body knows how to save and recycle its water.
This practice is ultimately much simpler and safer than it seems. It is a very rewarding (and surprising) experience for those who still think that the body needs water all the time.
My message isn’t that everyone has to drink less. If you have a medical condition that requires you to drink a certain amount of water, I won’t say otherwise. Let me remind you that I am not a doctor.
That being said, I think these cases are rare and that we should learn to listen better to our thirst.
Note, however, that aging slightly inhibits the mechanism of thirst and it may be necessary to force yourself to drink a little bit more with age.
Do not mix up:
- feeling like a tea
Through this article, I wanted to break a myth (8 glasses of water a day), but I also wanted to pass several messages:
- Listen to your body and don’t force yourself to drink more than you need
- Drinking less isn’t a good idea if your diet is dehydrating you
- Adapt your diet to bring the best source of water to your body: the one that comes from fruits and vegetables
- Water is mainly needed for the digestive process, and dry fasting is easier than it seems
And what about you? What is your relationship with water? Leave me a message in the comments.
- Overhydration -msdmanuals1(especially in sodium -hyponatremia).
When you fall asleep, the body produces an anti-diuretic hormone ( ADH ), to slow down the behavior of the kidneys and avoid interrupting the sleep because of the urge to urinate. Or, if you drink too much water in the evening, this mechanism won’t be strong enough to prevent you from getting up at night, which can seriously disrupt your sleep.
Imagine that we are plants. Some will need more water than others. And for most, if you water too often, you will kill the plant.
It wouldn’t occur to anyone to introduce a universal watering recommendation that would work for all plants. Why trying to standardize the great diversity that we are?!
If you drink a lot (and therefore too much), you have at least one of the following three problems:
- You force yourself to drink
- You are not eating properly (see next paragraph)
- You have a special medical condition (kidney failure, diabetes, etc.)
If you force yourself to drink (because you follow recommendations that come from who knows where…), it’s that you don’t listen to your body. Start with not forcing yourself to drink anymore. If you aren’t thirsty, it’s probably that your body is properly hydrated. Then take a second step back, and ask yourself: “Is it real thirst or a simple desire to drink?” Learn to differentiate the thirst for water from the desire to drink large bowls of tea or coffee, or whatever drink you consume throughout the day.
- Overdrinking, swallowing inhibition, and regional response to swallowing.
- Influence of watering on resting energy expenditure in overweight children.
- Water from fruit or the river? Examining hydration strategies and gastrointestinal illness among Tsimane ‘adults in the Bolivian Amazon.