Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


As one of the most vocal proponents I know of drinking lots of water, you'd think this would leave me humble pie. Maybe. And I'll admit that saying everyone should have "8 glasses a day", regardless of height or body build, is a poor metric. But I'm unconvinced.

Part of the reason is that, empirically, I feel like I feel better when I drink more water. I had a bout with eczema several years back, and although it's mostly gone, when I don't have enough water I can feel my skin get itchy. Drinking water relieves it. I used to get headaches. I don't anymore. Et cetera. Obviously this doesn't mean that it's generalizable to everybody, but there's that.

Part of it seems to be the clear joy with which they're trying to take down the bottled-water industry - an industry I have no particular truck with, but good science is not made by good nemeses.

And part of it, at least in this short form, is that some of the inferences are silly. For instance:

The body is already 60 percent water. So, if you take a 200-pound man, he's 120 pounds of water.

Adding a few extra glasses of water each day has limited effect. "It's such a tiny part of what's in the body," says Goldfarb. "It's very unlikely that one's getting any benefit."

Imagine if he said:

The body contains over 50,000 potential calories in fat. Therefore, adding an ice cream cone or two a day has limited effect.

And then the idea that water and diet soda are completely neutral in their effect on the body is, to me, somewhat offensive.

But do I just have an investment because this is a sacred cow of mine? Maybe. And the one statement that is of legitimate concern is that excessive fluid consumption could impair the kidney's ability to function. So I'm going to try to work out a test experiment. The problem is getting a control. In the meantime, I'd be curious with your experiments with water drinking.

For what it's worth, by the way, here's the simultaneously more snarky and more compelling Snopes take on the same topic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, some of the inferences in that article are silly. But I don't think you can read it as saying to stop drinking so much water. It's just saying that (a) the need for water is probably overstated, as are (b) its non-thirst-quenching benefits.

But I agree with you that drinking (more) water can often solve many problems: headaches, poor sleep, general grouchiness. At least, those have been true for me.

I've always been mystified by the claim that, by the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. One wonders why our bodies have a thirst mechanism if it fails so routinely. And why the similar hunger mechanism seems to work so well in contrast.

Seems to me that if water makes you feel better, go with it. But if you're not otherwise suffering any obvious ill effects, you probably don't need any more, either.

8/4/08 5:15 PM  
Blogger Wednesday said...

I've cut back on drinking water (boy that's sounds funny to say). I don't remember reading an article like this but the idea was probably in the air. It was definitely based on the idea that my fluid concerns were out of wack. No noticeable difference.

However thinking back to life in Houston where I drank a ton of water. I don't know, need really does seem relative to geography in this case.

24/5/08 1:00 AM  
Anonymous Annette said...

Hey, clicked over here after you sent me that comment.

Regarding the water thing, I stopped stressing out about drinking lots of water when I read this: (the academically minded among us can also read the lengthy linked article that dryly expands on this).

The link you posted sounds a bit hokey, but the above link contains plenty of logical rationale.

What I find interesting is that we humans have so abstracted ourselves from our natural state that we no longer trust our own bodies. The notion that we should just drink when we are thirsty (whatever quanity that may be per individual and their circumstance) seems somehow controversial, yet totally makes sense!

22/6/08 8:37 PM  
Blogger dd said...

What I find interesting is that we humans have so abstracted ourselves from our natural state that we no longer trust our own bodies.

Well, my body (or at least my mouth) sure likes lots of things that aren't that good for me. (C.f. alcohol, cake, etc.) And of course medicine tastes awful but is good for you. So I think it isn't that surprising that we grow up to have the expectation that we aren't the best judge of what to put in our bodies.

25/6/08 11:14 PM  
Blogger J. said...

But an ice cream cone has a known and quantifiable detrimental effect (baring taste...), whereas water has an unknown/debatable effect. The claims aren't really directly comparable.

The lady's comparison of water to diet soda is related solely to drinking instead of eating and its effect on weight-loss. She's saying the act of drinking in place of eating is what helps one lose weight - not what one is drinking. She's not commenting on whether diet soda is *always* a good replacement for water.

Nothing in that article smacks of surprise, really; its claims aren't bold enough. Personally, I don't know how anyone *could* drink 8 glasses a day. You'd float away. And it's such an old statement (that everyone should drink 8 glasses a day) that it smells more of rudimentary science (the basis of most folk remedies) than of good, healthy living. It's regarded as fact because everyone states it as fact (I'd say the same is true of the common insistence that being cold and wet causes colds, but that's another matter).

Furthermore, there's no especially compelling reason to regard bottled water as anything other than (perhaps cleaner, better filtered) tap water. Does anyone really believe any of it is 'bottled at the source' - or that, if it is, the source is some mythical, Ponce de León-ideal, fount of dihydrogen-monoxide perfection? I operate under the belief (perhaps a misapprehension) that most people drink bottled water because it's convenient, or a visible improvement over their tap-options (eg, from rusty pipes in their homes), and not because they believe it's inherently healthier. (Ironically, tap water is fortified with flouride; it's possible bottled water isn't, making it slightly less better for you, but that's also another matter, and also assumes any given bottle of water isn't really from a municipal water supply.) I could be wrong, tho; lots of people believe some really odd shit.

And one last one: whenever anyone starts talking about 'toxins' you can pretty much guarantee they're about to submit something to Modern Jackass. That way hokum lies.

That outta the way, I require loads more water than I *feel* like I require. I frequently find myself suddenly thirsty at the end of the day only to realize I've had very little hydration since waking up (surely that's bad). And occasionally I suffer effects of dehydration without realizing for some time that that's what's going on. So, yeah - it depends on the person, clearly. (If it means anything, my hunger impulse is also flawed.)

1/8/08 2:40 AM  

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