Written by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that guys who drank five or more glasses of water had only a 46 percent chance of having a fatal heart attack, and women had only 59 percent risk, compared to people who drank two or less glasses of water daily.
It gets even better (or worse, depending on how you look at it). Women who drank two or less glasses of something other than water—such as tea, a soft drink, or juice — had a 147 percent greater risk for a fatal heart attack than women who drank five or more glasses of water. (Guys, you had a 46 percent greater risk if you skipped the water for another drink.) Now, if those stats confuse you, I’ll sum it up: drink more water and reduce your risk for a heart attack.
Even after researchers adjusted for other risk factors, these numbers still held intact.
Researchers here looked at coronary heart disease and fluid intake stats in 8,280 male and 12,017 female participants. Overall, these participants had 246 “coronary heart disease events” (128 in men and 118 in women) over the six-year follow-up period.
More than any other factor in this study, water intake determined fatal heart disease risk.
According to lead researcher Dr. Jacqueline Chan, this was the “first study to record the association between high water intake and reduced risk of coronary heart disease…by drinking more plain water, healthy people…reduced their risk of dying from a heart attack by half or more.”
Chan notes there isn’t much evidence about the eightglasses rule. She still wants people not to rely on tea, coffee, and other diuretics that can raise blood viscosity, and focus instead on plain water.
Consider the statistics and you’ll understand her position. Your body is about 83 percent water; your brain and muscles are about three-quarters water, and even your bones pack 22 percent water. Water contributes to every single metabolic process in your body, including absorbing nutrients and removing toxic waste.
Dehydration, on the other hand, can elevate at least four independent risk factors for heart disease: whole blood viscosity, plasma viscosity, hematocrit, and fibrinogen. Heart attacks occur more frequently in the morning, when your blood is thicker because of water loss while you’re sleeping. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough reason for me to crank up my water quota
Maybe you’re not concerned about a heart attack. But I bet I’ll get your attention when I say that not drinking enough water can make you fat. That’s because even when you’re mildly dehydrated, you can raise your stress hormone cortisol one to two percent. Among the many things cortisol does is store fat and break down muscle.
Now, you’re going to hear naysayers claim the dehydration issue is overhyped. They argue there’s no double-blind, placebobased study to show you need eight glasses of water every day. Others claim you get enough water from the tea, coffee, and Diet Coke, so there’s no need to bother with boring water.
Nonsense, I reply to these critics. I believe more water is better. Ideally, I would like you to drink half your weight in water ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you need to drink 100 ounces of water a day. No kidding.
If you’re shaking your head that doing so is impossible, I’m going to give you an easy tip to meet your water quota. Buy a liter-sized Sigg, Klean Kanteen, or other stainless steel water bottle. Fill it up three times, and sip on it, throughout your day.
Bam! You’re done. See how easy that was? You’ll save money, the environment, and you won’t even have to worry about those pesky chemicals leaching from plastic bottles. Best of all, you’ll stay hydrated and enjoy the countless benefits water provides for your body.