Drink six litres of water a day to stay healthy, say researchers

Wednesday 30th November 2022 06:07 EST

Drinking two litres of water a day to stay healthy and hydrated is a myth, with people needing up to six litres depending on job, climate and sex, scientists have found.

In recent decades, the need to drink eight glasses of water a day has become standard advice, yet there is little evidence to back it up. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US studied thousands of people from 26 countries to find out how much water they needed, and discovered it varied widely.

They found that daily averages ranged from as little as one litre per day to six litres, which included water from other drinks like tea and coffee, and also water in food.

“The science has never supported the old eight glasses thing as an appropriate guideline, if only because it confused total water turnover with water from beverages and a lot of your water comes from the food you eat,” said Prof Dale Schoeller, emeritus professor of nutritional sciences.

“But this work is the best we’ve done so far to measure how much water people actually consume on a daily basis – the turnover of water into and out of the body – and the major factors that drive water turnover.”

Unlike previous studies which had asked people to self-report water intake, researchers measured water as it moved through the body. They found big differences depending on temperature, sex and levels of physical activity.

Weight gain and exercise a major factor

For example, a 20-year-old man, weighing 11 stone who lived at sea level in a developed country like Britain where the mean air temperature was 10C (50F), and who did average physical activity, would need around 3.2 litres per day.

A nine stone woman of the same age and activity level, living in the same area, would need just 2.7 litres.

When people doubled their energy expenditure in a day they required an extra one litre, the researchers found, while a 50 per cent increase in humidity required an extra 0.3 litres a day.

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