Let’s have a drink!

Drinking water has become an inseparable part of a healthy diet. While some follow the “8 x 8” rule (drinking two liters of water per day) others prefer to “drink to thirst”. What is best for you?

How much water should we drink a day?

“8×8” rule suggests that drinking as much as two litres or 8 cups of water a day is beneficial as it contributes to weight loss and keeps the skin healthy. Furthermore, it is suggested that it helps fight against cancer and kidney stones. It is also advised that the two litres of water should be drunk on top of other drinks as some of them ,such as caffeinated drinks, are considered diuretic (promoting the production of urine; in other words make you piss more so you need to drink more).

However, according to Heinz Valtin in his study published in the American Journal of Physiological—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, there is no scientific studies to support “8 x 8” recommendation. What’s more, caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and soda, as well as mild alcoholic beverages including beer may be counted towards the daily total water intake. Such conclusion though is limited to healthy adults who live sedentary life in a moderate climate. The “8 x 8” recommendation may be advised for the treatment or prevention of some diseases or vigorous work and exercise in hot climates.  

The study above favours the “drink to thirst” approach. In fact, over drinking may cause hyponatraemia (so called water intoxication which occurs when one drink a lot and additionally loses sodium during sport activities).

The proper approach would be to drink as much as your body need. Many people agree that the more they drink the better they digest and they have better complexion and skin. The amount should be individually adjusted. More important, however, is what we drink.  

So, what should we drink?

The choice of soft drinks nowadays is enormous. Brands are competing in getting new clients and increasing their sell by producing new tastes, colours and names. And they are sold in bigger container for lower prices to make sure we all drink them. 

Since its invention in 1970s, high fructose corn syrup became the best friend of soda industry. First of all, it was cheap as corn cropping was subsidised by the federal price support.  Secondly, high fructose corn syrup is liquid and can be directly added to drink.

In 2011, Americans drink 32 gallons of soda a year per person (it is 121 litre of soda a year per person) and 14 gallons of other sweetened drinks (teas, sports aides, vitamin waters, energy drinks) a year per person (it is 53 litre of soda a year per person).  

A single 12 oz can of Coca Cola (355 ml) contain 39g of sugar which is above the daily sugar limit. Unfortunately, human body has difficulty in identifying the calories in sweet liquid as well as it can in solid foods. In other words, the body cannot protect itself from uncontrolled intake of calories from drink and consequently excessive weight gain. 

The sole conclusion is that sweetened drinks contribute only to weight gain while the increase sugar intake may lead us straight to diabetes.

What choices we have apart from soda?

Natural fruit juice fresh squeezed, not from concentrate, pure with nothing added (only citric acid may be added as conservative). The juice with fruit pulp is better than the filtered one as is a rich source of fiber. You may try to dilute your juice with water just to save some calories for stronger cravings. If you dilute it with sparkling water and add some lemon the cocktail may be quite a treat. But remember that the amount of sugar in fruit juice is same high as in sodas.

12 oz can (approx. 370g)Coca colaOrange juiceApple juiceGrape juiceGrapefruit juice
Energy (kcal)331.6328328320333.7
Carbohydrates (g)39.238.742.05634.1
Fiber (g)
Sugars (g)39.831.335.853.933.7

Source: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

Tea and coffee as mentioned above are diuretics but may not be as dangerous for our body hydration level as we used to think. There are many types of coffee and tea and many have benefits. We will write more about them soon.

Water with lemon has almost no sugar and may have beneficial influence on the body. It hydrates you, flush out toxins and rejuvenate the skin. The lemon water is alkaline so it balances the pH into more alkaline which is healthier. 

Apart from this, lemon water is:

  • Great source of vitamin C which boosts immune system
  • Balances pH level of the body
  • Flushes out toxins
  • Helps digestion
  • Helps production of bile
  • Source of citric acid, polyphenol, and ascorbic acid
  • Source of copper (facilitates iron uptake), calcium (builds strong bones and enables cell transport) and potassium (regulates blood pressure and muscles work) 
  • Antibacterial

Mineral water (still and sparkling) rich in basic elements such as sodium, calcium and potassium is great for acid-alkaline balance of our body. You can add mint leaves, strawberries or slice of orange. It will add great flavour.

Distilled water is produced by distillation, deionisation or reverse osmosis. Basically, those processes remove the impurities from water as well as water’s minerals. It is fantastic for steam irons but not us, humans. Drinking distilled water, especially while fasting, contributes to the loss of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, chloride and can cause problems with heart beat and blood pressure. As distilled water is mineral-free it tends to absorb minerals from whatever it has contact with – our body will lose more minerals if we drink it, distilled water will absorb carbon dioxide from air and become more acidic. What is more serious is the fact that it is used in the production of soft drinks. Therefore, drinking soda instead of mineral water will never hydrate the body but instead remove huge amounts of minerals from our body. 

So, stick to mineral water if possible. 

Source: Valtin, H., 2002. “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8×8”? American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology, 283(5), pp. R993–R1004.