The body is about 60 percent water, give or take.
We’re constantly losing water from our bodies, primarily via urine and sweat.
There are many different opinions on how much water we should be drinking every day.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
The health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon.
This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember.
However, there are other health gurus who think we’re always on the brink of dehydration and that we need to sip on water constantly throughout the day … even when we’re not thirsty.
As with most things, this depends on the individual and there are many factors (both internal and external) that ultimately affect our need for water.
I’d like to take a look at some of the studies on water intake and how it affects the function of the body and brain, then explain how to easily match water intake to individual needs.
Can More Water Increase Energy Levels and Improve Brain Function?
Many people claim that if we don’t stay hydrated throughout the day, our energy levels and brain function can start to suffer.
There are actually plenty of studies to support this.
In one study in women, a fluid loss of 1.36 percent after exercise did impair both mood and concentration, while increasing the frequency of headaches (1).
However, keep in mind that just 1 percent of body weight is actually a fairly significant amount. This happens primarily when you’re sweating a lot, such as during exercise or high heat.
Bottom Line: Mild dehydration caused by exercise or heat can have negative effects on both physical and mental performance.
Does Drinking a Lot of Water Help You Lose Weight?
There are many claims about water intake having an effect on body weight… that more water can increase metabolism and reduce appetite.
According to two studies, drinking 500 ml (17 ounces) of water can temporarily boost metabolism by 24-30 percent (8).
The top line below shows how 500 ml of water increased metabolism (EE—Energy Expenditure). You can see how the effect diminishes before the 90 minute mark (9):
The researchers estimate that drinking 2 liters (68 ounces) in one day can increase energy expenditure by about 96 calories per day.
It may be best to drink cold water for this purpose, because then the body will need to expend energy (calories) to heat the water to body temperature.
One study showed that dieters who drank 500 ml of water before meals lost 44 percent more weight over a period of 12 weeks, compared to those who didn’t (12).
Overall, it seems that drinking adequate water (especially before meals) may have a significant weight loss benefit, especially when combined with a healthy diet.
Bottom Line: Drinking water can cause mild, temporary increases in metabolism and drinking it about a half hour before meals can make people automatically eat fewer calories.
Does More Water Help Prevent Health Problems?
There are several health problems that may respond well to increased water intake:
- Constipation: Increasing water intake can help with constipation, which is a very common problem (13, 14, 15).
- Cancer: There are some studies showing that those who drink more water have a lower risk of bladder and colorectal cancer, although other studies find no effect (16, 17, 18, 19).
- Kidney stones: Increased water intake appears to decrease the risk of kidney stones (20, 21).
- Acne and skin hydration: There are a lot of anecdotal reports on the internet about water helping to hydrate the skin and reducing acne, but I didn’t find any studies to confirm or refute this.
Bottom Line: Drinking more water may help with several health problems, such as constipation and kidney stones.
Do Other Fluids Count Toward Your Total?
Plain water is not the only thing that contributes to fluid balance, other drinks and foods can also have a significant effect.
However, the studies show that this isn’t true, because the diuretic effect of these beverages is very weak (22).
Most foods are also loaded with water. Meat, fish, eggs and especially water-rich fruits and vegetables all contain significant amounts of water.
If you drink coffee or tea and eat water-rich foods, then chances are that this alone is enough to maintain fluid balance, as long as you don’t sweat much.
Bottom Line: Other beverages that you drink also contribute to fluid balance, including caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea. Most foods also contain water.
Trust Your Thirst … It’s There For a Reason
Maintaining water balance is essential for our survival.
For this reason, evolution has provided us with intricate mechanisms for regulating when and how much we drink.
When our total water content goes below a certain level, thirst kicks in.
This is controlled by mechanisms similar to things like breathing… we don’t need to consciously think about it.
For the majority of people, there probably isn’t any need to worry about water intake at all… the thirst instinct is very reliable and has managed to keep us humans alive for a very long time (23).
There really is no actual science behind the 8×8 rule. It is completely arbitrary (24).
That being said, there are certain circumstances that may call for increased water intake… that is, more than simple thirst commands.
The most important one may be during times of increased sweating. This includes exercise, as well as hot weather (especially in a dry climate).
If you’re sweating a lot, make sure to replenish the lost fluid with water. Athletes doing very long, intense exercises may also need to replenish electrolytes along with water.
Water need is also increased during breastfeeding, as well as several disease states like vomiting and diarrhea.
Older people may need to consciously watch their water intake, because some studies show that the thirst mechanisms can start to malfunction in old age (25).
Bottom Line: Most people don’t need to consciously think about water intake, because the thirst mechanism in the brain is very effective. However, certain circumstances do call for increased intake.
How Much Water is Best?
At the end of the day, no one can tell you exactly how much water you need. As with most things, this depends on the individual.
Do some self experimentation … some people may function better with more water than usual, while for others it only causes the inconvenience of more frequent trips to the bathroom.
That being said, I am not sure if the small benefits of being “optimally” hydrated are even worth having to consciously think about it. Life is complicated enough as it is.
If you want to keep things simple (always a good idea), then these guidelines should apply to 90 percent of people:
- When thirsty, drink.
- When not thirsty anymore, stop.
- During high heat and exercise, drink enough to compensate for the lost fluids.
- That’s it.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
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Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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