The 8 Glasses of Water Myth

I did not discount the various things doctors told me, even if I was disappointed that none of them were able to diagnose a condition with a quick, clean, efficient, pill-based cure.

Dr. O, my nephrologist, quizzed me at great length about my diet. I earnestly assured him that I drank plenty of water, always at least the recommended 64 oz/8 glasses a day, and often more.

He interrupted.

“Which doctor told you to drink 8 glasses of water a day?”

Well, duh, Dr. O, no doctor. But every women’s magazine I’ve ever read, everyone one of which is probably sitting out in your waiting room right now.

He pointed to his diploma on the wall. He’d graduated from medical school the year I was born, and I was 31.

He said he’d seen the magazines, but he’d seen no study, in all of his 31 years of practicing medicine, that recommended 8 8-ounce glasses of water each day, or any amount of water each day.

Yes, doctors believed that you need enough water each day, but they agreed you could get it in many forms, and did not have some magic bullet formula that would spit out the exact volume you should drink.

In my condition, he suggested, it was actually possible that I’d been hydrating so well (out of fear of dehydrating) that I’d created an ongoing electrolyte imbalance that made me more susceptible to dehydration.

Great. Blame the victim! (Kidding, kidding.) (Sort of.)

I still drink plenty of water, but I don’t tether myself to a water bottle the way I used to, and I don’t panic if I haven’t filled up my pint glass 5 times by 2 p.m. And, although I knew it at the time, it was a good reminder to think critically before swallowing medical advice from a magazine.

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