During my freshman year of college, I encountered many people and things which were quite alien and unfamiliar to me. this is when I first encountered people who would fill up an entire gallon jug of water and carry it around like a normal water bottle. I’m still rather unsure of the motivations behind this. Surely these people weren’t drinking a whole gallon of water every day. And even if you were, why carry around such a huge jug? You could easily carry a smaller water bottle and refill it throughout the day (like I did). My best explanation for these actions is that these people were trying to maintain a certain level of fluid input because they are on some sort of special diet or training plan. A cursory internet search reveals that this is probably the case – people trying to make sure they drink 4 liters of water a day due to some form of high protein workout diet.
Yet even then, a full gallon of water (slightly less than 4 liters) is still a pretty outrageous amount of water to drink. Many of you have probably heard the old adage that you should aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That translates to 64 ounces, or half a gallon. But even then, that is no longer the modern recommendation.
It turns out that this advice was based off research done in 1945, which found that adults should consume 64 ounces of water every day. However, this 64 ounces did not mean “drink eight cups of water a day”. Rather, it referred to the total water intake a person would have. This includes the water that you would consume via your food. And, depending on what you eat, that could be a lot of water. For example, apples are 80 – 86% water by mass. So if you eat a 100g apple, you’ve just accounted for about 3 of your requisite 64 ounces of water.
Taking this into account, a healthy person should really aim to drink four to six 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This number can be varied by many factors, however. For example, if you are sick, your body tends to lose fluid more quickly, so you should drink more. And you should especially make sure to drink plenty extra if you are outdoors when it is hot out, to avoid dehydration. At this junction, I should point out that I’m an astronomer, not a doctor, and you should not take my words here as medical advice.
So as the weather turns warmer, and we approach summer, please remember this. It is important to stay hydrated, but you shouldn’t drink too much. A good rule of thumb is simply this – drink when you are thirsty. And if you’re elderly, sick, doing strenuous labor, or outdoors while it is hot, drink a little extra. Ultimately, though, literally 100% of people who have died have drunk water, so maybe it’s just a very slow-acting poison.
If you know anyone who would like to receive these, please have them send an email to [email protected]. And if you’ve spend your lifetime building up an immunity to water, let me know and I can take you off the list.
I know I’ve fallen behind a bit, and I owe you a few extra posts. They’ll be coming this week. Hopefully.