Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 Jun

Drink Less Water?

20879435 7c6e768449Dear Mark,

I always hear that I should be drinking eight glasses of water a day, but it takes a lot of unnatural effort to get close to that. Is it just me? What’s your take on the water rule?

Best,

Jaime

As you know by now, my job is to question Conventional Wisdom. One of the classic health paradigms I’ve always had a problem with is the blanket recommendation by the general health community that we all should be consuming copious amounts of water. It just doesn’t make sense to me and it never has. Face it, Grok did NOT walk around with a canteen or an Evian bottle affixed to his loincloth. He and the Grok family thought Nalgene was the name of the tribe across the valley and they never owned a sippy cup with which to gulp down mass quantities of H20. Day after day it was a drop here and a mouthful there – if a source of water other than a dewy leaf was even available. Since Grok and his cadre probably didn’t spend too much time hanging around the water hole. (All those predators you know…) 8 glasses of water a day is unlikely a physiological necessity, not to mention an evolutionarily relevant model. Grok obtained most of his water directly from the food he ate, and I believe that we probably should, too.

I don’t get thirsty very often. I rarely drink so much as a single glass of water during my normal daily routine. When I was a runner, and later as a triathlete, I would go out for long runs or rides without much water – if any at all. Sure I’d drink a bit to recover lost sweat when I returned home, but if I was riding for less than two hours, or unless it was unusually hot, I didn’t even put a water bottle on my bike. Even today when we take a break playing Ultimate Frisbee on hot Sunday afternoons, I have to force myself to drink sometimes when I might just as easily skip the water altogether. Meanwhile, I see people at the gym with 2-gallon bottles of Arrowhead, fully intent on polishing them off before dinner, thirsty or not. So, am I flaunting conventional wisdom at my own peril? Or am I just doing what comes naturally to a Primal being?

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Years ago someone put forth the idea that we all needed to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Perhaps it came from a series of studies in the 1940s after which the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine opined that the “RDA” for water should be roughly 1 ml per calorie consumed. At their recommended 2000 calories a day, that worked out to 2 liters a day, or roughly 8 eight-ounce glasses. Lost in the translation somewhere was an important caveat that much – if not most – of the water we required could actually be obtained from the foods we eat. In other words, it simply was not necessary to actually drink 8 glasses a day. And since the recommended diet at the time included substantial portions of water-sopping grains, maybe that initial recommendation was too high for someone eschewing grains altogether. (On a related note people will tend to drink more if the beverage is flavored. And, guess, what: carbohydrates (particularly sweet tastes) encourage increased fluid intake. So, it’s useful to ask if the hankering is real thirst or a flavor related craving.)

Nevertheless, over the years, this hydration mandate has become burned into the health consciousness of most people. It appears that nearly every health guru (except yours truly) hammers on this point. Food doesn’t seem to count at all anymore. Eight means eight. And forget including coffee, tea, soft drinks or beer because Conventional Wisdom says that these are diuretics and therefore only increase your requirement for pure water. Of course, that’s wrong, because coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages do actually add to water intake rather than detract from it. Alcohol and caffeine only become significantly diuretic in very large and otherwise dangerous amounts. But I really wonder if all that extra water – however you take it in – is necessary or even healthy if you are already consuming lots of vegetables and other healthy Primal Blueprint food. The average person is said to obtain 20% of his/her water from foods throughout the day. If the bulk of your diet is vegetables and fruit, this percentage is assuredly higher.

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Contrary to what your neighbor might advise you, there is no evidence that drinking eight or more glasses prevents constipation, kidney stones, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections or that it guarantees you’ll have clear skin and a toxic-free liver. Yet these are often cited as the main reasons to drink so much. And forget the so-called hyper-hydration properties of “clustered water,” “ionized super waters,” “penta-water” and the rest of the scam-waters, about which I have blogged in past posts. Water is water is water.

On the other hand, there are some possible health consequences of overdoing this hydration thing. Chronic over-consumption of water can cause the relative concentration of important electrolytes in the blood to drop, a condition called hyponatremia (Wikipedia), which in turn forces water out of the bloodstream and into cells, causing them to swell. Not a big deal for a muscle cell, but catastrophic when it’s a brain cell and there’s no extra space to expand into. Each year we read about people in endurance contests who sweat profusely, overcompensate by replacing the water but not the salts and wind up with cerebral edema. Last year a woman died in a radio-sponsored “water drinking contest,” drinking only about two gallons in a short period of time. Of course, those are extreme examples, but I do have several readers who have shared with me their intent on getting “100 ounces a day”, and I have to advise them to cut way back.

(The following contains my own personal hypotheses. I would love to see some research done in these areas. If anyone is aware of any please drop me a line.)

Conventional Wisdom suggests that drinking water with your meals is fine – even recommended. But I suspect that some heretofore undiagnosed digestive issues may arise when people drink significant amounts of water or other fluids with their meals. The digestive process starts with, and depends on, a very acidic environment in the stomach (a pH of 1 to 2 ideally). That highly acidic environment also controls the timing of when the stomach empties. When you drink lots of fluid at a meal, you are substantially diluting the stomach acid and diminishing its ability to effectively digest your food. I would guess that many cases of GERD, gas, stomach upset and other common complaints might be addressed simply by NOT drinking so much water throughout the day and refraining entirely from drinking while eating. (Except maybe a little wine, which, having a pH closer to stomach acid has been shown to aid in digestion) This might also explain why some proteins that only break down under optimum acid conditions pass into the intestines only partially digested and thus might be recognized by the immune system as “foreign invaders”, setting up some immune response that gets diagnosed as a food allergy.

Furthermore, unbeknownst to many people, the stomach is one of the first lines of defense in your immune system. Bacteria and yeast that are regularly consumed along with your food can be quickly and easily dispensed with in a very acidic stomach, preventing what might otherwise become a short term bout of food poisoning or a possible longer term GI tract infection. Dilute all your meals with water, however, and the pH rises enough to possibly allow those same bacteria to pass through to the intestines where all hell can break loose. Literally.

Even cold and flu viruses that permeate the air around us are generally rendered harmless when they reach a normally acidic stomach, (after being breathed in and drained with mucous into the stomach). Drinking a ton of water all day long just might disarm that security measure as well.

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So how much water does a person need? I think this question exemplifies our tendency to over-think many aspects of our health and well-being. I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions that animals seem to get along just fine on their own instinct. Do we really think we evolved any differently? Thirst is a physiological instinct that is there for a reason. Still, the makers of this bogus rule also tell us that the thirst instinct comes “too late”: we’re already on our way to dehydration once we get to that point! This is where the paleo-perspective comes in handy. Has our “defective” thirst instinct been leading us wrong – for tens of millions of years? I think you know where I stand on this one. So if you actually feel thirsty, by all means have a drink. For anyone interested in a little history of the rule (and confirmation that thirst doesn’t signal dehydration), check this (PDF) out.

Our individual need for water depends on numerous factors. Activity level, body size, environment (humidity level and altitude, most significantly), quality of health, age, and pregnancy/breastfeeding impose the most legitimate variations. In general, we want to replace the fluids we lose in a day, and intensive activity (with its accompanying sweat) will increase the amount of fluid we need. (For prolonged, intensive exercise and/or significant water intake, it’s essential to balance salt/electrolytes with water.) The drier our climate, the more water we tend to lose, but unless you’re sitting out in the blazing sun for hours at a time, it doesn’t make a huge difference. Altitude, because of the body’s more laborious breathing, can increase our need. Those who are ill can require more, depending on their condition and any treatments they’re receiving. (People with kidney disease, kidney stones, a history of bladder cancer, or a tendency for urinary tract infections are usually advised to drink more.) Women who are pregnant or nursing definitely need to drink more. Finally, I mention age not because older men and women necessarily need more water. In fact, if they’re more sedentary, they probably need less. However, some research has shown that as we age our thirst instinct may not be quite as sharp as it used to be.

For most of us, however, we can safely rely on that brain stem of ours to tell us when it’s time to belly up to the drinking fountain.

One final word on water intake:

Bottled water is a joke. If you don’t trust your tap, get a simple Reverse Osmosis filtering system.

Thanks for your questions, and keep ‘em coming!

massdistraction, Snap®, paulbence photography, phoosh Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Water is Water is Water. Even When It’s Scam Water.

10 Ways to “Get Primal”

Would Grok Chow the Cheese Plate?

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Thanks for the post mark, I especially like the last two points you made: water needs vary greatly upon numerous factors and $1.00/16 oz. of bottled water is a joke.

    primalman wrote on June 9th, 2008
    • I’m betting that all the sodium in modern diets is why we “need” all that water. it’s actually a fix to a problem w/ the modern diet. meanwhile, “drink when you’re thirsty”, which will be lots for some, and little for others, sure seems like pretty good advice.

      GeorgeT wrote on June 13th, 2012
  2. GREAT post Mark.
    The little water I drink daily is to take your vitamins ;-)

    Interesting tid bit;
    My 9 year old son plays roller hockey.
    When he comes of the “ice” on the bench all his team mates guzzle large containers of gatorade and water. For a while I kept on telling him to drink some water……because I never saw him really drinking. When I asked him about it he said he just wasn’t thirsty. I then realized that I’m the same way. But with all the coaches yelling “get some water” to the kids, I forgot that about myself. He is also the only really lean kid on the team.

    Marc

    tatsujin wrote on June 9th, 2008
    • does your son eat the paleo way? I am wondering because I have a 10 year old daughter and I still give her whole grains. I fear that if I don’t she won’t grow properly or something. I’ve been fed to much healthy advise over the years and I just cant get over it. I still have this voice inside my head telling me that this might not be safe for kids.

      Ann wrote on June 27th, 2012
      • I recommend you to read “grain brain” by Dr Perlmutter, you will have a clearer perspective on whole grains and gluten.

        Mona wrote on January 28th, 2014
  3. The past several weeks i’ve been snacking on watermelon. It quenches my thirst and i find myself not drinking water. Watermelon is my favorite summertime snack, it sure beats a glass of water when you’re thirsty on a hot day!

    Donna wrote on June 9th, 2008
  4. I’ll drink to that! You know what I mean…

    Anna wrote on June 9th, 2008
  5. I drink like a horse. Always have. I can put down 4 glasses of water with breakfast. Funny thing is, I never even bothered checking myself against an 8 glass a day rule. Never cared if I had too much or t0o little water. Water is water, right? Ah well, maybe I’ll cut back a little. Also, I’m a 250lb dude, so my water requirements might be on the high end.

    Lou wrote on June 9th, 2008
  6. Couldn’t agree more with the joke that is bottled water! Imagine explaining this to someone in the 50′s…

    ME: Hey, Mr. 1950′s guy, I’m from the future.
    1950′s GUY: Swell. What’s it like.
    ME: Get this, there’s a coffee shop called Starbucks on every block of this city!
    1950′s GUY: Sounds great, how’s their pie?
    ME: No pie, just coffee.
    1950′s GUY: Good coffee?
    ME: Sure.
    1950′s GUY: How much does it cost?
    ME: Five dollars.
    1950′s GUY: …
    ME: …
    1950′s GUY: Wow, inflation sure is a mean devil. How much for frozen peas, 500 dollars?
    ME: 80 cents.
    1950′s GUY: Coffee costs six times more than peas! What if I don’t want coffee!
    ME: Simple, you can buy some water.
    1950′s GUY: …BUY water?
    ME: yep.
    1950′s GUY: How much does water cost?
    ME: Same as coffee.

    Marty wrote on June 9th, 2008
  7. $5 for coffee? You’re right, that’s a good joke.

    An Americano is from $1.85 to $2.50 at Starbucks or just about anywhere else, depending on size and location (extra shots of espresso raise the price a bit).

    Americanos are shot(s) of espresso in hot water. I prefer an Americano to drip brewed coffee because it is freshly made for me, not pre-made and sitting around who knows how long. Espresso, even watered down, also tastes better than drip brewed coffee (especially old drip coffee) and has less caffeine.

    Anna wrote on June 9th, 2008
  8. ..have a read about Lee and DeVores long term studies of the !San; also how they buggered up one group with bore holes thinking they were doing ‘em a favour (thats a whole other eco-philisophical point that suggests we as a species are ttruly buggered.
    Also having spent a coupla years in Bots and Nam and seen these climes firt hand pre Nalgene..water was obviously scarce and they survived(or not) fine

    simon fellows wrote on June 9th, 2008
  9. I pulled so many muscles during flag football one year because I drank too many liquids every day(100+ ounces of water, 8 cups of coffee, 4 beers). Bad stuff!

    Phillip wrote on June 9th, 2008
  10. Hallelujah! I thought I was the only person in the world who thinks that chugging water all day long is unnatural.

    To all the people who tell me that tea or coffee or fruit “doesn’t count”, I always ask them, “OK, how about if I swallowed a spoonful of coffee beans or the contents of a tea bag, and then drank a glass of water with it? You think that would be OK, right?” They usually don’t know how to answer that.

    dragonmamma wrote on June 9th, 2008
  11. Great post Mark.
    I would humbly agree on many points. The amount of water you take in should correlate to your activity level, your current state of fitness, and of course your dietary consumption (which includes all those wonderful processed and Sodium saturated foods)
    By the time your actually thirsty, it’s too late, your body’s h2O supply is depleted.
    I don’t think there is such a thing as drinking too much water. Your body can and does know how to handle the excess, but yes we should take into consideration how much at one time your consuming!
    Thanks for the great info as always.

    Strong One wrote on June 9th, 2008
    • Just one question…How can a person’s water supply be depleted? Seeing that we are made up of more water than anything, we’d be dead if that were the case. I’m not sure I agree that 84 oz of water each day is bad for a person though. I have gotten myself up to that and once you start, it is quite easy. I’m sure it helps to keep up flushed out. If we ate healthy food, it wouldn’t be so necessary. Back when people ate meat, fruit and veggies and didn’t have processed foods, they probably got more water from their foods. Today, we have to flush the toxins out after eating the bad food choices all day. I agree that water is best drank throughout the day rather than with a meal. Interesting subject. Also, I find that when I do drink more water, I feel better, more alert and less bloating.

      Christy wrote on April 23rd, 2010
      • Even a small decrease in hydration (2-3% if I recall correctly) has a marked, negative effect on performance. For most people, slight dehydration may not be an issue, but for athletes, proper hydration is key. This does not mean massive amounts of water, but water and nutrients when needed. Timing matters as well.

        James wrote on February 7th, 2011
  12. I was wondering if the high grain and simple carb consumption in North America was in part to blame/explain the phenomenon of water bottling. When I was a kid, a million years ago, people just didn’t seem to require so much fluid. No one ever drank a litre of coffee in one shot.

    Maybe back then people didn’t eat like donkeys/horses/cows: grazing on carbs.

    I’ve done some reading on water recently. It seems that the North American ‘fad’ concerning ‘pure’ water is actually counterproductive. High calcium and magnesium levels in drinking water are associated with lower risk of sudden death from heart attack. So what’s the deal with all these near distilled waters? Those Europeans with their spas figured out something on an empirical basis: hard water is good for the body.

    gkadar wrote on June 9th, 2008
  13. I really agree with this and I’m glad it’s been posted.

    Whenever someone tells me that by the time I’m thirsty I’m dehydrated, I just reply that it’s careless of Mother Nature to have messed up such a basic feedback mechanism so badly.

    Here’s another link along the same lines: http://tinyurl.com/zwc

    And it’s easy to spend $5 for the fancy coffee-based drinks, which is presumably what the previous poster had in mind.

    Chainey wrote on June 9th, 2008
  14. all i want to make sure of, is avoid kidney stones…that’s all i wish for

    sir jorge wrote on June 9th, 2008
  15. I’ll just throw in that I used to drink water all day long (probably close to a gallon), was quite literally a stick, and ate a bowl of oatmeal a day as about the only consistently eaten carbohydrate. I get thirsty very easily and I hate the feeling of having a dry mouth. So the more filtered tap water, the better.

    Katie wrote on June 9th, 2008
    • That just goes to show that everybody is different and that no health industry should “force” people to consume the same amount of water in order to be classified as “healthy.” The health industry needs to take into account that God created us differently. This whole “be healthy” movement is counteractive because it is stressing out citizens “including myself.” We as humans need to just trust God in everything and ought not worry about anything.

      miss J wrote on September 15th, 2011
  16. Dr. Gabe Mirkin has an interesting post that implies that professional bike racers have better kidney function because they often become dehydrated. Here’s a partial quote: “The researchers found that frequent dehydration accompanied by drinking large amounts of water did not cause kidney damage. This repeated stress on the kidneys may even explain why the professional cyclists had better kidney function than the less-active participants.” http://www.drmirkin.com/public/ezine051808.html

    Mark L. wrote on June 9th, 2008
    • Long amounts of sitting can compromise kidney function through lack of blood flow.

      Jane wrote on December 9th, 2009
  17. Good article, in fact you’ve stated something I’ve often thought about myself. I just don’t seem to need 8 glasses a day.

    I used to live in Oman & Quatar, in the middle of the desert (when I was younger) and even back then, in 40 – 50 degrees heat, I didn’t seem to need the full 8 glasses of water a day.

    Now I’m in the UK and I drink perhaps 4 glasses a day max. I do have a very healthy diet though. Whilst I think this conventional wisdom isn’t a bad thing, I also think its importance has been overstated and if you just drink when you are thirsty you’ll be fine.

    Office Water Coolers wrote on June 10th, 2008
  18. My believe is that there is such a thing as drinking “too much” water. I use to drink way too much. Years ago I followed advice from a very wise man to drink way less and i noticed how much better i felt!!! Drinking “too much” water is NOT healthy!

    Donna wrote on June 10th, 2008
  19. I’m like Lou. I just drink a ton of fluids. Always seemed to be that way. I have a liter in the morning with breakfast and on the ride to work. Then couple cups of dark roast and then water the rest of the day. Especially with my meals!? If its dinner I will go through a couple pints of ice water no problem. If it’s iced tea when my parents are in. It’s at least four pints. No sugar though. When I’m working out riding more so than when I lift, I go through water quick also.

    Now its all unhealthy :( Hopefully the effects aren’t too detrimental because for the most part I’m just thristy not actively trying to get my eight glasses.

    If you think $1/16oz is bad (and I hate buying water because its silly and the waste), I just got back from my honeymoon in Italy where at the most expensive we had 3 bottles of Pellegrino with one dinner for 5euro each for less than 700ml. Of course the won’t give you tap water. It was about 15 euros for 2L of water. Don’t do the exchange rate conversion it will make you sick.

    Joe Matasic wrote on June 10th, 2008
  20. Uh-oh…I think I’m In trouble…..well, not really. But I have always been constantly thirsty. I don’t care about the 8 glasses thing,I just drink when I’m thirsty.ever since I can remember I wanted water all the time. I always keep a big , glass juice bottle with me filled with filtered tap water and I drink anywhewre from 2 quarts to 2 gallons in a day, depending on the day. I’m extremely active and I talk alot( this is what my mother blames). But if I don’t drink when I’m thirsty I get a migraine. The water rule is silly because every person is different, we’re all an experiment of one.

    hedda wrote on June 10th, 2008
  21. Really interesting concept. I’ve never come close to meeting the water recommendations (even the old 8 glasses of water a day one was too much, let alone the newer ones, which I think are at least 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men), but it’s always something I’ve worried about in terms of sports performance. What do you make of the studies that show performance is affected when you’ve lost even 2 percent of your body weight due to dehydration?

    JenS wrote on June 10th, 2008
  22. JenS,

    Of course working out hard and long changes everything. It’s an unnatural act that requires an unnatural compensatory act (drinking more than you otherwise might). training and racing in the heat without water is suicide (figuratively if not literally). I lost 12 pounds running my first Boston Marathon in hot temps at age 20 (144 to 132). Stupid now, but we didn’t know better 35 years ago.

    Mark Sisson wrote on June 10th, 2008
  23. You start off so well offering evidence-based debunking of a common myth. Then you go on to offer new myths that have no evidence to back them up or are entirely wrong.It seems you employ the same level of evidence to draw your conclusions that you point out initially as being faulty.

    You define hyponatremia as a reduction in all important electrolytes, it only refers to lowering of sodium levels in the blood. The closest word to your definition would be hypo-osmolality. You probably overestimate the risk of water intoxication for a healthy adult. Their intake must excede their ability to excrete water, which is about 900 ml/hr. You can do it, but it requires effort. It is rare enough that when someone pulls it off they often make the news.

    What evidence is there that 8 oz of water at a meal will “substantially dilute the stomach acid”? Ph is a logarithmic scale. To get from 1 to 3 requires a 100 fold dilution. Even if you assume a minimal volume of acid in the stomach, say 25 ml, you’d be talking about chugging about 2.5 liters to get to pH 3, which is still adequately acidic. A large meal accomplishes this shift…for maybe a minute. On what basis do you conclude that water is even more effective at doing this. Rising to 3 or 4 during a meal has no effect on effectiveness of digestion so how are you able to conclude that a glass of water with a meal will “diminish its ability to digest your food.”

    You offer a guess that many cases of GERD are caused by water intake. So now you are speculating that somehow drinking water contributes to lower esophageal sphincter incompetence. How do you guess that water causes this localized muscular dysfunction? By slightly diluting stomach acid? This seems like either wild speculation or a very uneducated guess by someone who is presenting themselves as quite learned on this topic.

    What evidence is there that wine’s effects on digestion are pH related? (none) Ah, but there is something that can effect esophageal sphincter tone!

    What evidence is there that the tiny fluctuation in stomach pH from drinking water or for that matter the larger fluctuation associated with food intake effect the antibacterial effectiveness of the stomach? (none)

    What evidence is there that the tiny fluctuation in stomach pH from drinking water or for that matter the larger fluctuation associated with food intake effect the digestion of proteins in such a way that would effect immune response/allergies? (none)

    In fact most theories of incomplete protein digestion triggering food allergies relate to the infant’s gut where gaps exit for undigested/ partially digested proteins to access the bloodstream and not to the adult gut.

    Infectious agents that spread through ingestion and effect the gut are, not surprisingly adapted to the acid environment and not contracted due to an elevation of gut pH.

    Cold and flu viruses are adapted to respiratory cells (the flu is a respiratory illness and not a GI illness, though some people call that “flu”). If they survive the acid environment of the stomach, they are unlikely to find respiratory cells beyond there in the gut. Some respiratory pathogens can cause significant problems elsewhere (TB for example) and stomach acid may have some effect when those pathogens are swallowed.

    I think it is great that you look critically at common conclusions based on shaky evidence or evidence that has been misinterpreted. However, to debunk 1 and then offer 7 or 8 new conclusions based on no evidence or on faulty understandings of GI function and pathology seems to pretty much destroy the whole point that you started off making…unless this was a clever exercise to see how many people noticed that you debunked one common misperception only to repeatedly make the same mistake that created the need for debunking in the first place. If that is the case, then Bravo! Well done!

    Arjuna wrote on June 10th, 2008
    • I applaud you. I mean, Mark has some good points, but I find some of his claims extreme. You make excellent points. I know when I fail to drink at least 8 cups of water I get tired, cranky, and everything goes downhill. With water, I eat less, I have more energy, and I feel better. And I tested this, I did 4 days of drinking water when I felt like it, and today was the 5th day and in the morning I woke up with a nasty headache (like i did for the past 2 days) and I was sluggish, and cranky… Then I drank some water in the late afternoon, and I had a surge of energy and my moods lifted.
      Drink less water = bad mojo for me. So for Mark to tell people that drinking 8 cups of water to be healthy is a “myth” is misinformation. Because I know that when I drink 6-8 cups of water a day I feel my best, and actually my digestion goes a lot smoother, eating the same things I do with water being the only variable. I turn into a monster when I only go by drinking when I feel like it. The fatigue is unbearable by the way… I sat all day and felt exhausted like I ran a marathon, when I spent the whole day sitting… And I’m a long distance runner and I was about to trip over myself running a mile (and I had a nice 3 days of doing nothing!).
      Sorry Mark, not one of your strongest articles.

      Harmony wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • If you want your viewpoint to be taken seriously, you need to learn the difference between the words “effect” and “affect”.

      Malandro wrote on August 14th, 2013
  24. Arjuna,

    First off, thanks for your very detailed and thoughtful comment. I appreciate that you took the time to address this so thoroughly.

    Your points are well-taken, but I think I was quite clear that I was not offering conclusions. I was looking at a lifestyle that assumed “more water is better” and from there, speculated what might be happening in some cases. I sprinkled terms like “I suspect”, “I would guess”, “might explain”, “possibly” in reference to “a ton of water”,”lots of fluid” or “dilute every meal.”

    I never sugested that “8 ounces with a meal” could disrupt digestion for everyone or anyone. I was suggesting that maybe someone who has partial hypochlorhydria already or a stomach pH of 3-4 or is taking PPIs can easily cross the line with excessive water consumption. From there I offered some possible health scenarios. Some may appear a little far-fetched from a traditional AMA POV, but that’s what opens the door to discussion. If we want to start more serious debate on “evidence for immune responses”, we’d have to agree that evidence exists to suport both sides of the issue…as happens so often in medicine. If there were a right answer, everyone would agree.

    As I state here often, my posts are representative of a primal point of view. I look at how we live and then suggest ways we might be thwarting our “evolved design”. I certainly use this site as an evolving wiki for my own POV and encourage people to speak up as you have. Your input today helps with that.

    Hope to hear more from you.

    Mark Sisson wrote on June 11th, 2008
  25. Mark,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I think that you may have missed the main point of my comment. The point was that you hold those you disagree with to a higher standard than you apply to your own writing. I saw all the “I suspect”, “I would guess”, etc. I’m sure you know that all those phrases can be summed up in one category. They are called “weasel words” because they are often used to precede an opinion for which the author has no foundation. Many people who are familiar with logic and critical thinking will recognize all the weasel words and discount what you are writing but there are still many who are swayed by them or unaware that they signal faulty arguments. So, if I understand correctly, you admit there is no basis for your assertions but feel they are OK to disseminate as long as you include the weasel words?

    The point was that you noted that those who recommend 64 oz of water a day have no basis for that opinion so it shouldn’t be heeded. I agree. A strong secondary point to your opening is that we should critically examine claims from all sides. Again, I am in complete agreement! You then offered your own unfounded opinions, admittedly surrounded by weasel words.

    I also completely missed where you qualified that you were offering an opinion about people with pre-existing achlorhydria or those taking PPIs. Unfortunately, I’m still unable to locate that in your original post. Could you quote it for me?

    In fact you said, “When you drink lots of fluid at a meal, you are substantially diluting the stomach acid and diminishing its ability to effectively digest your food. ” This proverbial “you” surely sounds like the statement is a general proclamation. It certainly doesn’t say “when you people with achlorhydria” or when you people taking PPIs”. Maybe you meant to add that qualification but forgot. If so, it would be appropriate to edit your post for future readers and even possibly change the title to indicate the narrow application of the opinions you are offering. Other commenters could certainly weigh in on their reading of the post but I don’t see anything that suggests this qualification.

    You go on to suggest that whatever we may disagree about bears some relation to “Primal POV” vs “traditional AMA POV”. First, thank you for assigning me a point of view. I’m not sure you know me well enough to do that. This logical fallacy is currently very in vogue, what with Fox News and all the science deniers who claim that misinterpreting climate science is just a different POV. I must admit it can be frustrating when someone attempts to skirt the factual and logical issues being raised by assigning someone else a point of view and attributing the difference to that. I don’t think the existence of hydrogen ions, the logarithmic nature of the pH scale, or the defect that underlies GERD, as examples, represent any particular POV. There is evidence to support these facts.

    Same with the issue of immune responses. Scientists understand how to weight data and critically assess the relative value of studies. Understanding the scientific process they understand that for a variety of reasons there will be data on both sides of any issue. The problem arises when the value of the data is not examined and we believe that having some data that contradicts the mass of good data means the good data is wrong. Again, please see the climate change debate. This basic misunderstanding of science is used constantly to suggest that issues for which we have a preponderence of good evidence are “unsettled”.

    I appreciate that your intention is positive and you hope to inform people on healthy living. I appreciate your attempts to debunk unfounded assertions such as high water intake. It is an admirable endevour and a serious one. I only hope that you will apply the same standard to your own assertions. A good place to start might be that if you really want to educate people then if you feel you need weasel words to qualify your statement, leave that statement out.

    Arjuna wrote on June 11th, 2008
    • I’d like to point out that Mark said this is my personal hypothesis. You know what a hypothesis is, right? Speculation is the foundation of science. Mark goes on to speculate on some of the ramifications of this hypothesis. Hence these aren’t ‘weasel words’. I find his speculation credible and interesting.

      Without hypotheses, one cannot proceed to theories by applying the scientific method. A hypothesis (drinking too much water might lower stomach pH) can then be tested by making a prediction (people who drink lots of water have a higher incidence of prandially acquired disease) and testing it in a controlled manner.

      The internet has turned everyone into an expert on logical fallacies, but of course the majority of people don’t really understand them. It’s the logical fallacy fallacy.

      Sean wrote on April 1st, 2010
      • Only he said drinking lots of water would dilute the acid. If it lowered the pH, that would mean water makes it MORE acidic.

        Ali wrote on February 21st, 2012
  26. Arjuna,

    You are aware that this is a BLOG, are you not? Do you understand that a blog is not held to the same standards as, say, a medical journal?

    As Mark states in his disclaimer:

    The views expressed on this site are my opinions. My words or any contributions from my staff should not be taken as a substitute for qualified medical expertise. I don’t really censor Aaron or Sara or the rest of my staff (though I do review all their contributions).

    So, while I’m a “health guy” with a biology degree and many years of fitness, health and nutrition experience to my credit, my views are just that – my views. I hope you’ll find the blog to be helpful, challenging, engaging and compelling.
    ********

    I, for one, am really enjoying his thoughts on the subject, even as unbacked by medical research as they may be.

    dragonmamma wrote on June 11th, 2008
  27. Arjuna,

    I’m afraid we are getting bogged down in minutiae here. You call them “weasel words”. I call them disclaimers. You argue that I assigned you an AMA POV; I didn’t. I just acknowledged that from that POV, my ideas might seem unique.

    You argue:”I don’t think the existence of hydrogen ions, the logarithmic nature of the pH scale, or the defect that underlies GERD, as examples, represent any particular POV. There is evidence to support these facts.” and yet you lump these all into a category of facts (the very same approach you accuse me of doing) when the so-called “defect” that underlies GERD is not known for certain in all cases(ie, is not a fact). There are many known and/or suspected causes of GERD and many can be eliminated with simple lifestyle change. Maybe less water at meals is one. While you argue that I shouldn’t suggest copious water at a meal is a possible cause, you can’t say for sure that it’s not.

    Anyway, let’s agree to disagree on these points and move on.

    Mark Sisson wrote on June 11th, 2008
  28. I apologize dragonmamma. I realize it is a blog but didn’t realize that implied that false information was on the menu. Thank you for clarifying that for me. You apparently found something in that disclaimer that implied that false information should not be pointed out or challenged. I didn’t. That may be my mistake.

    Some people do care if the health information they consume is true. I can see that for you it is most important that it is “enjoyable”. I didn’t mean to offend your sensibilities. I agree with you that the writing here is enjoyable. We just have a disagreement about whether truth is also an important aspect of health information. Enjoyable writing that is not true is called fiction. If this blog is fiction, I hope it would be labeled someplace as fiction. Then I could have avoided displeasing you.

    It appeared to be non-fiction. It had a comment section, which I assumed was for comments. The author seems capable of a civil discussion. I discussed. Sorry if that went against policy.

    If your criteria for useful health information is the enjoyment that you receive from it then I wouldn’t think it would serve you to join a conversation on whether or not it is true information. Why not just continue to enjoy?

    Arjuna wrote on June 11th, 2008
    • Arjuna,
      I want to have your babies. :-)

      oldie wrote on January 11th, 2010
  29. Sorry Mark…moving on

    Please excuse my intrusion

    Arjuna wrote on June 11th, 2008
  30. Sorry to interrupt, but…can anyone explain more about balancing salt/electrolytes with water after heavy exercise? After training I normally drain a water bottle pretty fast but never think about replacing salts.

    Shane wrote on June 11th, 2008
  31. You took then words right out of my mouth its true the more I drink water the easier it gets but my natural instinct is not to drink water.I could never figure out how water was doing me any good because within five to ten minutes after drinking I need to urinate and its always pure water it seems to me if you get your water with food it would take longer to digest therefore doing more good.Also I would like for you to talk about potassium I think this is far more important two years ago I was swelling.deoressed,almost passing out when I would get up and worst of all my legs would feel like they were crawling all the time I also have been running for many years and never supplementing but not one of my doctors that I went to told me to take potassium in fact one doctor gave me a prescription for restless leg syndrome but even it persisted I finally started doing some research and found that we actually need 4500 milligrams of potassium per day so I tried it all my symptoms went away and know I know when my body screams for potassium.Thank you for helping us fix things without making it be about popping pills.

    celina wallace wrote on June 12th, 2008
  32. Hey Mark

    What a post to get my mom to read. She always asks “Did u drink water?”. At tims I use to wonder if that was true about 8 glases. This post is a great way to look at th 8 glasses in a day.

    Shashanth wrote on June 13th, 2008
  33. You touched on the grains sopping up water, but have you put any thought into the water that we intentionally cook out of our food? Mainly fresh living/raw fruits and vegetables. Did Grok cook the fruit he would find? Would you eat the orange? Or, would you burn it first?

    Gonom wrote on June 13th, 2008
  34. Just curious, I have always just my water consumption on the color of my urine. It’s been darker lately since I have mainly been drinking tea and only water when I am thristy. Does this darker color have anything to do with my health? Does it make a difference?

    Cara wrote on July 1st, 2008
  35. Cara,

    I don’t think the color of your urine has anything to do with your health in general (unless you had just finished a marathon and were urinating “coke-colored”). Otherwise, just let your thirst be your guide. And that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a spot of tea even when you’re NOT thirsty!

    Mark Sisson wrote on July 1st, 2008
  36. Mark,

    Just as a note, I thought I could interest you in a post that I recently read from Lifehacker. It was a note that the BMJ tried to debunk a few medical myths. One that caught my eye was the fact that everyone should drink 8 glasses of water daily. I thought I would paste the relevant text here to save you some time:

    As taken from http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7633/1288:

    “The advice to drink at least eight glasses of water a day can be found throughout the popular press. One origin may be a 1945 recommendation that stated: A suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 litres daily in most instances. An ordinary standard for diverse persons is 1 millilitre for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods. If the last, crucial sentence is ignored, the statement could be interpreted as instruction to drink eight glasses of water a day.

    Another endorsement may have come from a prominent nutritionist, Frederick Stare, who once recommended, without references, the consumption “around 6 to 8 glasses per 24 hours,” which could be “in the form of coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, beer, etc.” The complete lack of evidence supporting the recommendation to drink six to eight glasses of water a day is exhaustively catalogued in an invited review by Heinz Valtin in the American Journal of Physiology.

    Furthermore, existing studies suggest that adequate fluid intake is usually met through typical daily consumption of juice, milk, and even caffeinated drinks. In contrast, drinking excess amounts of water can be dangerous, resulting in water intoxication, hyponatraemia, and even death.”

    Although I may not agree fully, I believe this will help your argument.

    Your Digital Trainer,

    Jeremiah Bell

    Jeremiah Bell wrote on January 2nd, 2009
  37. Jeremiah, thanks. Good stuff here.

    mark sisson wrote on January 5th, 2009
  38. I’ve been looking for this post since June 2008 and I FINALLY FOUND IT!

    I’ve been telling my coworkers they really need to cut back on the water, mainly because it’s silly to pay for it and because we have a delicious water fountain and the tap tastes like lead pipes and rocks. They all seem to be stuck on the RDA of 6 to 8 a day; they’re also mostly overweight, have mobility issues and a constant case of bad breath and or a whiff of body odor when the temp is high enough to promote a bead of sweat. I attribute a lot of this to the overzealous water intake and inadequate “healthy” food ingestion.
    I’m an enigma to most because they rarely see me consume water (and I can “not eat” for days)…but can always count on me having my coffee, juice or tea, a salad or any type veggie cooked or raw and yogurt or on occasion rice. I’ve NEVER had acne or skin problems, and although I find it difficult to gain weight I haven’t changed that much since high school- can even still wear some of the clothes. As well, I’ve been known to “reject” water; ran track and cross country in HS and water always came back up so I’d take minuscule sips (like Grok) or not at all, the hotter it is the less I want to drink. I don’t sweat profusely, nor do I have issues with BO…again, not so with my “camelesque” (no pun but it could easily fit) counterparts. Am I truly an enigma or am I just happily following my primal instinct and letting my body tell me what it needs?

    NoElleNo wrote on March 10th, 2009
  39. I wrote my master’s thesis on water consumption, and he’s right that the 8 glasses of water a day is a misinterpreted piece of data that stuck. There is a big difference between glasses of water and your total water consumption (which includes consumption from food).

    The amount of water you need varies by person. I am a runner who lives in the Sonoran Desert and has urinary issues that are assuaged with drinking lots of water, so I actually drink at least 6-8 glasses a day. But I’d never suggest that other people do the same thing.

    J. wrote on April 4th, 2009
  40. Times are a changin’ and so should our outlook on ALL aspects of life. We are and have been for a hundred years or so, a re-thinking world. What was rule even a couple years ago may very well be proved drool as of yesterday. Science is everything but ever changing so never become so dead set as to cancel out anything 100%.
    That being said, how the heck did you ever feel that a quality comparison of us as human beings, living in the enviroment that we do, should rely on what Grok did as “makes sense”
    Pardon my ridicule but come on! Grok didn’t need much water so we don’t either. I won’t even get into a heated and extremely educational debate over this but I really enjoyed reading the previous one. However, your statement is as wide open for trouncing as I have ever seen. How about this one…” Grok was never seen filling his gas guzzleling Escalade up with Premium Unleaded fuel”
    Times are a changin’ and thanks to people such as yourself, so are opinions but lets try not to slay the dragons with swords dull as bricks.
    By the way, if you think water is water is water…you have never seen the effects of a rain storm on all things growing compared to the constant yet inadequate watering using an irrigation system on city water…Miraculous is the difference ! Have an awesome day.

    torchum wrote on April 6th, 2009

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