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"I did 43 years of research on that subject Ė the osmoregulatory system. That system is so precise and so fast that I find it impossible to believe that evolution left us with a chronic water deficit," Dr. Heinz Valtin (Reuters)

Another View: Drink When Youíre Thirsty

Within days of the posting of our "More Water" article (# 93), a new study was published saying thereís no scientific support for advice to drink eight or more glasses of water a day. Itís "a myth," says Dartmouth Medical School professor emeritus and kidney expert Heinz Valtin, author of the scientific review in the American Journal of Physiology (August).

It comes from a flawed reading of a 1945 recommendation -- that we consume about one milliliter of water for each calorie of food eaten -- from the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council, says Valtin, who has written textbooks on the subject of human water balance. What they forget is that much of the food we eat contains water. According to Dr. Valtin, the water in juices, milk and other beverages Ė including coffee, tea and soda pop Ė should be counted.

As noted in The Lean Advantage 3, even meat and bread are one-half and one-third water, respectively. Fruit and vegetables are 80 to 95 percent water.

"Obey your thirst" is good advice for most people, says Valtin. Itís true, however, that elderly people sometimes become dangerously dehydrated without realizing it. Marathon runners and others who exercise strenuously, especially in hot weather, need more water as well. But sedentary, healthy adults living in a temperate climate, according to Dr. Valtin, can safely rely on thirst.

The average person doesn't need to carry around a water bottle.

We should pay attention to our water needs, however.

I believe Dr. Kenseyís theory that drinking extra water helps to keep our blood flowing smoothly makes sense. Thatís why I wrote about it. I havenít changed my mind, even though I realize it's a minority view. 

My body works better when I drink plenty of water, especially my bowel function. Still, I donít count the number of glasses I drink each day. I drink a glass of water when I get up in the morning and several times during the day, when I happen to think about it. I drink before and after workouts and walks, especially on hot days. I drink when Iím thirsty, of course. I donít drink before going to the movie, or other places where visiting the menís room might be inconvenient or awkward.

I also eat plenty of fruit and vegetables Ė every day.

Donít be obsessive about drinking water. Use common sense.

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