WATER - A Fresh Look at Our Water Drinking Habits and Advice!
- Theresa has drawn my attention to an extensive and very thorough
review article by Subhuti Dharmananda:
In this article here, I want to review some additional points...
* Expert Water Intake Advice - U.S. versus U.K.
* Advice for Children and Schools
* Water Consumption and Health
* Effects of Too Little Water Consumption
* Effects of Excessive Water Consumption
* Health Problems Requiring Extra Water Intake
* Neurotic Drinking!
You are welcome to copy this article for others, but please include
my name and website address (see below) or this link to the CHEAL
newsgroup - Thanks!
OFFICIAL EXPERT ADVICE
Subhuti's article poses the question:
"Is 8 fluid ounces, 8 times a day (two quarts) the best advice?"
Subhuti is referring to U.S. official advice and is writing in
American English, so for British people, and other countries that use
the "Imperial" system of liquid measures, we need to first translate
this U.S. advice into UK English...
In the "Imperial" (UK) system, there are 20 fluid ounces in a pint,
compared with 16 fluid ounces per pint in the U.S.
Also, an "Imperial" (UK) fluid ounce = 28.413075 ml whereas a U.S.
fluid ounce = 29.5735295625 ml.
So Subhuti's question refers to American advice to drink 1.9 Litres
water per day, which is equivalent to 3.34 UK pints.
UK National Health Service Advice
The UK NHS health authority gives this advice:
"You can avoid dehydration by drinking eight large glasses of water a
day and increasing your intake of water if you are ill with sickness
[A "large glass" by the way = 300 ml, so 8 large glasses = 2.4 Litres]
The NHS advice continues...
"When exercising, you should drink up to one litre of water per hour
of exercise, on top of your normal daily amount. This should be
increased if you are exercising in warm conditions, as you will
dehydrate more quickly.
In hot weather, you will sweat more and lose fluid from your body.
Make sure you are drinking enough water to replace lost fluids"
UK Advice to Schools
Government advice to teachers
[http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/healthyliving/foodanddrink/drinkingwater/%5d refers them to the 'Water is Cool in School' ERIC
charity campaign advice:
"The standard recommendation is at least 6-8 glasses (1.5 - 2 litres)
a day, drunk regularly throughout the day (at least 3-4 glasses while
at school) ensuring that plenty of additional fluid is drunk during
warm weather and/or when exercising. "When exercising" means before,
during and after exercise and is not restricted to formal PE and
games lessons, but is also applicable to active play (e.g. football
in the playground or periods of running around).
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Washington DC
(2004), includes a separate category for teenage boys aged 14 over
who require a higher average fluid intake of 2.6 litres (about 11
Pupils spend at least half their waking hours in school. During this
time, they should be drinking at least half their daily requirement,
spread regularly throughout the day."
UK government advice to schools also says:
"An omnibus study backed by a team called the Expert Group on
Hydration (EGH) - a group of independent scientific, nutritional and
medical professionals - found that.... two thirds of those questioned
were not aware that squash, still drinks and fruit juices are
hydrating as well as plain water. And - they argue - 90 percent of
those surveyed did not realise that carbonated drinks - presumably
the cola's and other drinks currently under scrutiny for their role
in tooth decay, mood changes, diabetes and obesity - contribute to
daily water intake. Dr Amanda Kirby of the Expert Group on Hydration
advises "In fact, drinking a soft drink can also help people meet
their required daily amount of fluids."
WATER CONSUMPTION AND HEALTH
Subhuti Dharmananda's review reveals very well that water-drinking
advice is, and always has been, full of conflicting opinions with
very little hard evidence to support them.
At one extreme there is the Taoist view:
"one should not eat until he feels hungry and not drink until very
At the other extreme is the Ayurvedic and modern health authority
advice (which goes even further than the Ayurvedic) in favour of
constant drinking throughout the day.
My favourite advice is that dramatic stuff in the Tibetan
[http://www.Amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1559390093/sunflowerheal-21%5d that you should...
"Fill two parts of the stomach with food, one with drink, and in the
fourth part leave room for the fire-like equalizing wind, the
decomposing phlegm, and the digestive bile."
The problem for health advisors is of course that our water
requirements vary enormously depending on our environmental
temperature and humidity, type of activity, age and health, diet
(most fruit for example is 80% or more water) etc. We also have to
consider the amount of stress, pollution and dietary toxins we are
In healing work, most of us believe that significant healing
experiences and "detox" treatments change the chemistry of the body
and release "toxins". I have had significant experiences of this
EFFECTS OF TOO LITTLE WATER CONSUMPTION
The ERIC campaign for schools states...
"Mild dehydration not only has an adverse effect on physical and
mental performance and temperature regulation during exercise, making
exercise feel harder and more tiring, but will also affect the
subsequent mental performance, energy levels and mood of a child back
in class. In the long-term, the effects on health from failing to re-
hydrate between bouts of exercise are significant.
Children's drinking should be supervised, as they do not
instinctively drink enough during exercise. An hour of just moderate
and/or intermittent exercise can mean a child weighing 30kg can lose
around half a litre of water, and in warm weather this loss could be
much higher. Researchers advise that to restore normal fluid balance
after exercise, we should consume at least the equivalent of 1.5
times (i.e. 150%) the fluid lost during exercise. The key to avoiding
dehydration is to drink before exercise and at regular intervals
during and after.
If children are well hydrated, exercise feels easier and more
enjoyable, helping to develop positive attitudes towards exercise and
encouraging children to exercise more willingly another day."
"Water makes up about 80% of the brain and is an essential element in
neurological transmissions. Poor hydration adversely affects a
child's mental performance and learning ability. Symptoms of mild
dehydration may include tiredness, headaches and a feeling not unlike
jet lag, as well as reduced alertness and ability to concentrate.
Mental performance including memory, attention and concentration can
decrease by about 10 per cent, once thirst is felt. Mental
performance deteriorates progressively as the degree of dehydration
increases. Thirst is usually felt when dehydration results in 0.8 - 2
per cent loss of body weight lost due to water loss. For a 10-year-
old child weighing 30kg this is equivalent to one or two very large
glasses of water (300ml each), which is the amount a child could lose
during a PE lesson or running around in the playground. Water
consumption also has an immediate alerting and revitalising effect.
In schools taking part in the Food in Schools water provision pilot
project, the consensus from teachers was that "enhanced provision
contributed to a more settled and productive learning environment, as
well as helping to instil good habits". The key to boosting the
capacity to learn is to keep well hydrated throughout each day
(ideally from a personal water bottle within arm's reach).
EFFECTS OF TOO MUCH WATER CONSUMPTION
Excessive intake of water can dilute and "flush" out vital minerals
(especially sodium) and vitamins and produce transient oedema (fluid
accumulation in tissues, including the brain), but problems seem to
be quite rare. In the UK recently a performing artist went into coma
and nearly died after becoming neurotically "addicted" to drinking
When toxic elements (e.g. fluoride, sulphate, nitrate) are present in
the water we are drinking - as is often the case - we could be
damaging our health when we drink either single large quantities or a
frequent steady intake without much break for body chemistry to
recover and restore.
Where water or soft drinks are imbibed from plastic bottles or sups
we might also need to be aware that we are drinking small quantities
of plasticizing chemicals, see
for more on these hazards!
Most water that we drink is not sterile and may contain potentially
harmful bacteria and microscopic parasites, such as cryptosporidium
which has caused health problems in the UK and many other countries.
For details of how to sterilise water by boiling, see
If we are drinking "filtered" water, there may be bacterial build-up
over a period of time. Also water filters usually add elements such
as silver to the water to control bacterial growth.
HEALTH PROBLEMS REQUIRING EXTRA WATER INTAKE
There is a good summary here:
Subhuti Dharmananda expresses some concern about the current trend
towards what might be termed "neurotic" drinking - "mindless"
drinking without self-awareness.
I have noticed a similar growing trend - some people constantly
sipping during lectures, meetings or workshops and becoming quite
concerned if they become separated from their "life-support system"
bottle of water for even a short time.
Is this a matter for any concern?
Well, firstly there are the health risks mentioned above in relation
to excessive drinking and toxic elements in water. Secondly, as with
all neurotic (fear-driven, undue attention-seeking or undue comfort-
seeking) behaviours, there is the possibility that it takes time,
attention, money and energy away from more constructive activities.
1. The wise old adage says "All things in moderation".
2. Buddhists tell us to beware of the "THREE POISONS!" - tendencies
which ruin our chance of a healthy, fulfilling and peaceful life -
one of them is "GREED" and another is "DELUSION"!
[Article by Dr. Michael J. Meredith, Holistic Health Consultant
all rights reserved, but may be copied if this attribution is