Busting Common Myths Around Drinking Water
6 mins read

Busting Common Myths Around Drinking Water

Summer hit Bengaluru by late February and I see myself reaching out for iced water more often than I usually do. 

Feel thirsty – drink water. One would think drinking water is as simple as that right? But no. Trust our current social media landscape to add a dozen complications to ‘how to drink water right’ leading to a lot of confusion on how much water to drink, what kind of water, what temperature, sitting or standing, steel or copper glass, and so on. 

Let us wade through the myths being propagated on drinking water and find out if there’s any drop of truth to it:

Eight Glasses Of Water A Day

Have you heard of the Illusory Truth Effect? When you are repeatedly exposed to false information, you’ll start believing that it’s true. So it’s not your fault if you thought that the eight-glasses water rule is gospel. There is nothing medical or holy about eight glasses of water a day. Two research papers from 1945 and 1974 said that the body uses six to eight glasses of water to function optimally. This somehow got interpreted that one must drink eight glasses per day. The water needed by the body comes from all of the food we eat (dal, vegetables, fruits, etc.) and beverages we drink-  milk, tea, coffee, everything counts. Just drink water when thirsty and stop keeping a count of how many glasses unless medically advised to do so (some kidney patients are advised to drink lesser quantities of water)

We Need To Drink Our Water Quota For The Day 

This has led to people investing in fancy time-marked bottles, app reminders, and whatnot, to push themselves to stay hydrated. If the sodium levels in your blood go up, the body will do anything to get its hands on water. The body’s thirst mechanism is so finely tuned and complex. I heard this fascinating piece of information in a podcast featuring nephrologist Dr. Joel Toeff on the fascinating autopilot of thirst and drinking water. “It takes about 10 minutes for 

the water that you drink to get into your bloodstream and your brain knows within a minute or so that you’ve consumed enough and it’s already like making the calculations based on what it’s sensing in your mouth and your oesophagus.” This is the kind of fascinatingly complex mechanism our body uses to detect and assuage thirst, so to say that our body does not know if it is thirsty is just nonsense. You and I may not know that we are thirsty, in our preoccupied selves, but our body knows and it will make us reach out for water on an autopilot.

Warm Water Dissolves Fat

Warm water cannot dissolve fat. No water can dissolve fat because primary school science teaches us that fat does not dissolve in water. Drinking sufficient water aids weight loss by keeping us full without calorie intake and by avoiding sugared or high-calorie drinks, which is a possible way to lose some weight when you drink enough water. 

Cold Water Burn More Calories

While it’s true that your body expends some energy to warm the water to your body temperature, the amount of calories burned in this process is minimal and not significant enough to contribute to weight loss in a meaningful way.

Lemon Water To Start The Day

Lemon water does not cause weight loss or dissolve belly fat. Lemon water does not detoxify the body. The concept of detoxifying your body with foods and drinks is a silly trend, but it is not supported by medical science. Neither does lemon water ‘alkalise’ the blood or energise the body. What lemon water can do is erode your enamel and cause cavities, so be prepared for visits to the dentist. 

Drink Water While Sitting Down

I’m awestruck (and scared) that videos peddling this kind of information have millions of views. This leads to water accumulating in the joints, risks heart and lung function, and damages kidney function. You see, there’s no limit to imagination when the claims need not be backed by science. There is no known anatomical link between the stomach and the musculoskeletal system as far as I know, so feel free to drink water standing up or sitting down, as long as you are not presenting any choking hazards for yourself. It’s a pity we are having to deal with debunk straight-up nonsense like this one. 

Water Makes Your Skin Glow

A small study revealed that in people with low daily water consumption, increasing water intake had a positive effect on skin appearance and helped maintain plumper skin. If you’re already well hydrated, drinking more water will not have any additional impact. The water that you drink cannot reach the epidermis, which is the outer most layer of the skin.

Alkaline Water Help Prevent Diseases

I’ve saved the best for the last. Robert Young, who pioneered the alkaline diet, had to do jail time for practicing medicine without a license and misleading cancer patients with the alkaline diet. There is simply no science to suggest that drinking more ‘alkaline’ water has any health benefits. The body has several complex mechanisms that work hard to maintain its pH and it’s not something you can change by just drinking ‘alkaline water’ and thank goodness for that. 

What’s The Bottom Line?

Don’t overthink it. Be in tune with your body. Trust it to maintain homeostasis. Drink water when thirsty. Hot, cold, warm, iced, whichever way you like it. Standing up or sitting down or in a lotus pose, is up to you. And don’t be fooled by quackery like alkaline water. 


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