Is it Still 8 Cups a Day? A Nutritionist’s Guide to Healthy HydrationJune 2, 2015
The human body is approximately 60% water. That water plays a vital role, as it helps transport nutrients, eliminate waste, and regulate body temperature.
Unfortunately, that water reserve is constantly being depleted through sweat, urine, and stool. This is why nutritionists recommend drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. But “plenty” of water has meant very different things over the years, and old theories about hydration are changing thanks to new scientific research.
So just how much do nutritionists recommend people drink to stay healthy? Read on to find out what the latest research is saying about healthy hydration.
Not too Much or Too Little, Say Nutritionists
Without any water at all, a person can die in a week or less, which is why the conventional wisdom on water consumption was that more was always better. But, just like breathing in more oxygen, drinking more water isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.
While everyone needs water to stay alive, drinking too much water in a short amount of time can lead to a deadly condition known as hyponatremia. Hyponatremia, also known as “water intoxication” happens when blood gets diluted by excessive amounts of water. Although this condition is very rare, professionals with a sport nutrition certificate say that endurance athletes are especially vulnerable to water intoxication.
Of course, nutritionists don’t recommend going to the other extreme and forgoing water altogether. Instead, they say that it’s all about striking the right balance.
Nutritionists Refute the 8-Cups-a-Day Myth
For a long time, it was thought that the optimal amount of water to drink was eight cups – the equivalent of about two litres – of water a day. However, a study from Australia demonstrated that eight cups wasn’t as necessary as scientists originally thought. Although two litres a day isn’t enough water to cause harm or lead to water intoxication, the study concluded that people can drink less than the traditional eight cups and still lead healthy lives.
What Nutritionists Recommend
Nutritionist training in Ontario and elsewhere around the world provides students with the latest guidelines on hydration and the studies that support them. What that new research suggests is that the human body is very good at regulating its water intake. If too much water is coming in, then the body will eliminate it through urine. And if there is too little, then that water will be stored in the body and a person’s urine will turn a dark yellow.
Professionals with a nutritionist certificate therefore recommend that patients listen to their bodies, and adapt their water consumption habits accordingly. If they notice that their urine is too dark, then they should drink more fluids. If they are urinating frequently and the colour of their urine is barely yellow and almost completely clear, then a patient can drink a little less.
Weight loss nutritionists also say that one of the biggest benefits of drinking water is that it can promote weight loss. Substituting soda and sugary drinks for water can greatly help patients looking to lose weight and lead healthier lives.
Do you want to learn more about how nutrition and water consumption affect health? Have a look at the AAPS program page and see what courses are available in nutrition today.