Is it really 8 cups? Short answer: No. Like almost every other piece of dietary advice you see on the Internet, it’s just not true. How much water you drink is actually not as simple, and will depend on other individual factors.
Yes—drinking water is important. Water plays a huge role in your body’s function. A report from the Harvard Medical School shows all the different benefits of drinking water regularly like carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells, lowering blood pressure, aiding digestion, maintaining electrolyte balance, regulating body temperature, protecting your organs, stabilizing your heartbeat, elevating your mood, and so much more.
One study review from Nutrition Reviews also mentions how water can help with energy levels and can aid in weight management. Plus, water keeps you hydrated, obviously.
So, how much water should you drink? Here’s the kicker…there isn’t enough sufficient data to set a proper recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for daily water intake.
This is coming from the holy grail of nutrition, the Dietary Reference Intake, which states that there isn’t enough conclusive data to set a specific water intake goal for individuals. The only goal they set is an adequate intake (AI) level based on survey data in the U.S.
The survey found that on average liquid consumption for men is 117 ounces a day (~14.5 cups), and 93 ounces for women (~11.5 cups). Also, the DRI does mention that higher amounts of water intake will be needed for people who are physically active or live in a hotter climate.
The keyword here is liquid consumption.
Here’s something you likely didn’t know—even if the recommendation is between 93 to 117 ounces a day, you don’t have to just stick to water to reach your goal. Different drinks can help you reach that goal like coffee, tea, milk, and yes, even alcohol. Even though coffee and alcohol are well known for being “dehydrating,” the science does not back it up. The only reason this myth is a thing is that coffee and alcohol are diuretics, meaning they go through your system quickly and make you urinate, not keeping you hydrated for very long.
No, you can’t replace water and simply drinking coffee or alcohol—clearly, that’s dangerous. But given that coffee is made from water, and alcohol contains water as well, you are still consuming it. The DRI states that only 35% to 54% of your liquid intake needs to come from water. So if we were to actually do that calculation, how much water you actually need would range between 32 to 50 oz. for women (4 to 6 cups), and 41 to 63 oz. for men (5 to 8 cups). The DRI says the rest can come from other drinks and food.
Yes, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the DRI say daily fluid intake can also come from a variety of hydrating foods.
The point is…for healthy bodily functions, it’s important to sip on water regularly. But if all 93 ounces aren’t coming from water, that’s okay! Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Have some milk with your cereal. Bite into a juicy fruit. These are hydrating forms all still count in your total intake. All in all, don’t get so worried about needing to chug water all day.
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