New study: this is how much you need to drink every day

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The rule of thumb of drinking two liters daily is getting shaken up by a new study. This is because the amount of water needed depends on various factors.

Drinking two liters a day – that used to be a rule of thumb. A new study puts an end to this. It was recently published in the journal Science. Since about half of our daily water intake comes from food, researchers estimate that we only need about 1.3 to 1.8 liters per day. Previous studies in this area were based on surveys of small samples of people. More than 90 scientists worldwide have collaborated to measure water turnover using a different technique.

Five thousand six hundred four individuals between the ages of eight days and 96 years from 23 different countries participated in the study. Participants drank a measured amount of water enriched with deuterium, which occurs naturally in the human body and is entirely harmless. The scientists measured the speed at which the deuterium disappeared from the body, which provided information about how quickly the water transformed in the body. They found this depended on the subjects’ age, biological sex, physical activity, and environment.

The analysis found that people who live in hot and humid environments and at high altitudes and athletes, pregnant and lactating women, need more water because their turnover is more elevated. Similarly, water turnover would not equate to the need for drinking water, said Professor John Speakman, one of the authors from the University of Aberdeen. “Even if a man in his 20s has a water turnover of 4.2 liters per day on average, he doesn’t need to drink 4.2 liters daily,” he said.

He explained that drinking the recommended two liters is probably not harmful, but it’s also not necessary in most situations. The calculations suggest that a typical middle-aged man should drink about 1.6 to 1.8 liters per day, and an ordinary woman of the same age should drink about 1.4 liters. This figure could drop to about 1.1 liters per day for people in their eighties. However, it depends a lot on what foods they eat. For example, if they drink a lot of soup, they need to drink less. Tea, coffee, carbonated drinks, and fruit juices also count toward the daily total. Therefore, there can be no universal recommendation, says study co-author Speakman.

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