Do we really need to drink two litres of water?

Water is important for health, however, the recommendation of eight glasses of water a day appears to be an overestimation of requirements. Image: Shutterstock

Researchers suggest our bodies need two litres of fluid per day, rather than two litres of water specifically.

We are made up of around 75 per cent water. It provides the medium in which all the body’s chemical reactions take place and helps regulate our body temperature through sweating. In recent years, drinking large quantities of water has become one of the mantras for healthy living. However, a new study suggests that our fluid intake shouldn’t be restricted to water alone. According to Spero Tsindos, lecturer at La Trobe University people can get their daily fluid intake from fruit, vegetables, juices, and even tea and coffee.

“We should be telling people that beverages like tea and coffee contribute to a person’s fluid needs and, despite their caffeine content, do not lead to dehydration,” he says.

Tsindos presumes the original source for the “˜two litres of water a day’ motto came from the hydropathists and naturopaths of the nineteenth century, when they spoke of the need to flush toxins from the body. When the National Health And Medical Research Council Australia (NHMRC) ran its National Nutrition Survey in 1995, it found that the averages of all adult men and women indicated a consumption of just over two litres for women and three litres for men of fluid. Since then, this has come to mean water specifically, rather than fluid.

Consuming excessive amounts of water also benefits many beverage manufacturers who have been supplying water in plastic bottles. The largest of these manufacturers use purified tap water, rather than spring water.

“The size of the water bottle industry is huge,” Tsindos says. “The prevalence of water in bottles grew out of the European adoption of the fad. Perrier and other very chic brands of water were seen as very elitist and expensive. Drinking plain water from the tap is perfectly fine, especially in Australia. Anything bought in a bottle is usually a waste of money.”

Water is important for health, however, the recommendation of eight glasses of pure water a day appears to be an overestimation of requirements.

“Anything containing fluid is going to contribute to hydration, but care should be given in making bold claims regarding what is good or not in this regard,” Tsindos says. “The best rule of thumb is to drink when you are thirsty. You can expect that in a healthy diet you will be thirsty less often and as such, drink less water.”

Your body will tell you how many litres of water you need.

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