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WATER - A Fresh Look at Our Water Drinking Habits and Advice!

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  • Michael Meredith
    Theresa has drawn my attention to an extensive and very thorough review article by Subhuti Dharmananda: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/water.htm In this article
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 21, 2005
      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!

      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
      and/or diarrhoea."

      [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:

      Which says...

      "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
      large glasses).
      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."

      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
      Quintessence Tantras
      [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
      exposed to.

      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

      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).

      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
      bottled water.

      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.

      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
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