hype or happening? Health

Should we drink three litres of water daily?

Making a life away from home (#adulting), my college friends and I often find ourselves sharing tips on what helps us stay healthy. Pinged one, on our ‘girl gang’ WhatsApp group, “I have 750ml of warm water every morning, before brushing my teeth. It’s like a bath for your insides.” Says another, “I have honey lemon water.” Because this is coming from a Kashmiri with the rosiest cheeks I’ve seen, I’m inclined to believe her.

We’ve all heard the 8x8 water rule, as children: drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water (around two litres) every day. It’s one that has stuck around for ages, despite being debunked many times as having no scientific basis.

However, beauty magazines have now gone one step further and will tell you even two litres isn’t enough, that you should be drinking over three. Not only is it supposed to give you radiant skin but also curb appetite, reduce belly bloat, and help with weight loss.

As tempting as the imagery of the extra litre of water washing away all our toxins is, there isn’t much scientific evidence to prove that. “Drinking around two litres would be ideal. This you can get either in water, or through fruits and vegetables that have high water content,” says Dr Balasubramaniyam R, Chief Nephrologist, Kauvery Hospital, Chennai. Watermelons, oranges, peaches, tomatoes, lettuce and cabbage, cauliflowers, and yoghurt are rich in water. So even if you miss the occasional glass of water, you can make up for it through your diet.

Not drinking three litres per day won’t dehydrate you. “The signs of dehydration are tiring out easily, getting dizzy because of low blood pressure, muscle cramps and low urine output,” he says. To not reach this stage, listen to your body when it tells you that you’re thirsty.

Our water requirements, moreover, are highly individualised. “A person living in a humid climate would sweat and need more water. Whereas a person living at an altitude would not get as thirsty,” he says. How much water you need not only depends on the climate, the pollution you face, the kind of physical activity you undertake, but also on your body type: you could be working the same sedentary job as your colleague, and still feel thirsty more often.

Blindly following the daily-three-litres-of-water rule could be dangerous as well. “People who have heart or kidney diseases need to watch their water and salt intake,” says Dr Balasubramaniyam. Watch out for signs of breathlessness, or swelling of the feet.

Summer is coming, so stay hydrated, stay healthy. But don’t overthink it. Now go buy some watermelons.

In this column we decode health trends, and decide if it’s all just ‘hype’ or actually ‘happening’

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Printable version | Mar 26, 2020 7:38:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/hype-or-happening-drinking-three-litres-of-water-daily/article26495352.ece

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