Is making sure we drink two litres of water a day a waste of time and money?

Along with getting our five a day, millions of us try to glug two litres of water a day thanks to messages that have been drummed into us for years by the NHS and health experts.

We believe it helps keep us healthy and slim, but last week, Australian nutritionist Spero Tsindos, at La Trobe University in Melbourne, sparked controversy by claiming that eight glasses of water a day ‘is over the top’ and instead of hydrating our body’s cells, we just pee most of it out.

What’s more, he claims, it doesn’t help weight loss without a low-calorie diet, and in fact drinking tea and coffee, which we’ve been encouraged to limit, actually count towards our daily liquid intake.

So what is the truth about H20?

How much water do we really need?

“Strictly speaking, most people don’t need two litres of water a day,” agrees Dr Carina Norris, a nutritionist and author of Healthy Eating. “We get a lot of water from food – especially fruit and vegetables – and from other beverages such as tea, coffee and juice. However, two litres is a good amount to aim for and trying to stick to eight glasses a day certainly won’t hurt you.”

The benefits of staying hydrated include better health, digestion, improved immunity and it’ll leave you alert and energised. So what is enough?

‘The best way to tell if you’re drinking enough water is to look at the colour of your pee,’ says Dr Sarah Brewer.

“A pale straw colour shows you’re drinking enough – if it’s darker than this, you should aim to drink more.

The first pee of the day doesn’t count though. “This tends to be much darker due to the fact you haven’t been to the toilet all night. However, there is such a thing as a dangerous amount of water,” adds Dr Norris.

“Water intoxication is where a person drinks so much it dilutes the salt in their blood. It can leave you lethargic, light-headed and in extreme cases, it can be fatal. But, this happens very rarely and only tends to occur when people are dehydrated through exercise and they suddenly drink two or three litres in a short space of time.

“But drinking a similar amount over the course of a day won’t do you any harm. Especially if it’s hot, you’re exercising, travelling on a plane (dehydrating) or in an air-conditioned office.”

Do tea and coffee count?

Yes, good news if you’re always trying to cut down on the amount you drink. “We should be telling people that beverages like tea and coffee contribute to a person’s fluid needs and, despite their caffeine content, do not lead to dehydration,” says Tsindos.

And Dr Norris agrees. “Not only do tea and coffee count towards your daily fluid intake, but they actually have health benefits and are full of antioxidants. They’re dehydrating because they’re both diuretic – i.e. they make you wee a lot – but they contain enough water to make up for this.”

So what are these health benefits? A recent study published in the health journal Nutrition Bulletin discovered that three cups of tea a day reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Another recent study – this time from the National Cancer Institute, US – found that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to die from a host of illnesses including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Green tea has also been shown to speed up metabolism and aid weight loss.

“It used to be said that tea and coffee didn’t count,” says Dr Brewer.

“However, new research suggests this isn’t the case.”

Which is a good excuse to put the kettle on!

Are soft drinks part of my daily allowance?

In theory, fruit juice and fizzy drinks do count towards your water intake, but some of them have lots of sugar and calories, which can reduce the health benefits of their extra fluid. “They’re OK in small amounts, but pure water is much healthier,” says Dr Norris.

A recent study from the University of Glasgow found that Brits regularly underestimate the amount of sugar in seemingly healthy drinks like fruit juice and smoothies, and that the average person drinks 3,144 calories a week through non-alcoholic beverages. A similar thing applies to ‘hydrating sports drinks’.

Dr Brewer adds: “Most people who drink them do so sitting at their desk, so they get a hit of sugar they don’t actually need. The only exception is coconut water, like Vito Coco Coconut Water, which has become popular with celebrities in recent years, thanks to the fact it’s refreshing and full of vitamins.”

The only drink that doesn’t count towards your fluid intake is alcohol.

“It’s so dehydrating. A small glass of wine is OK, and studies show moderate amounts of alcohol lower blood pressure and help relax you, but any more than this is bad for your health,” says Dr Brewer.

Other ways you can ‘eat’ water

According to Tsindos, we should also consider the fluid in unprocessed fruits and vegetables, a claim backed up by recent research from the Institute of Medicine in the US, showing that 20% of our daily water intake comes from food.

Dr Norris agrees: “Our food contains a surprising amount of water, which counts towards our daily intake. Fruits and vegetables are a particularly good source, along with soup.”

The best ‘watery’ fruit and veg include lettuce, cucumber, melons (especially watermelons), berries, citrus fruits (kiwis, oranges) pears, mushrooms and dark green, leafy vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, rocket etc).

“Soup is particularly good,” says Dr Norris, who says that studies show people who eat soup before a meal eat less calories overall and tend to be slimmer.

“It’s thought that water in food fills you up more than food and water separately,” she explains.

So be sure to eat soup as often as possible – pick one that contains some lean protein (chicken, ham) and includes a selection of vegetables.

Is bottled water better than tap?

In the last 10 years, carrying a bottle of water has become a fashion statement, and one of Tsindos’s most controversial claims is that bottled water is a waste of time, an expensive gimmick driven by the bottled water industry.

Regarding the ‘two litres of water a day’ message, he says: “This has been interpreted to mean two litres of water specifically and it has driven a steady growth in the use of bottled water. Some 30 years ago you didn’t see a plastic water bottle anywhere, now they appear as fashion accessories, like tokens of instant gratification and symbolism, the very bottle itself is seen as cool and hip.”

So, are water bottles really an expensive waste of money?

“I personally wouldn’t bother with bottled water,” says Dr Norris.

“The tap water in this country is free, good quality and tastes good.”

What Olympic athletes REALLY eat (Lots of red meat, fruit... but also rich desserts)

While most Olympic athletes people see on television appear trim and often even slim, the road to the Games for many of them is paved with a stunning quantity of food rich in proteins and carbohydrates.

Turkish javelin thrower Fatih Avan says he is mindful of what he puts in his stomach while training for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

‘I may have become an elite athlete with my good performances but I can only be a great athlete if I can win an Olympic medal,’ he said.

Massive meal: Turkish javelin thrower Fatih Avan, 23, has a nutritional program that gives him a daily intake of 3,500 calories.

Artist uses fruit and veg from his local greengrocer to re-create famous masterpieces

At dinner tables across the country, mothers constantly tell their children: ‘Don’t play with your food!’ But for artist Alon Zaid, the habit has produced the most spud-tacular results.
The 60-year-old has recreated some of the world’s most well-known masterpieces using fruit and veg from his local greengrocer.
He sliced and diced vegetables including potatoes, cabbage, broccoli and aubergine and arranged them to look like the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Interesting Fruit Facts

Avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams.
Apples contain an antioxidant that fights cancer .
The banana plant is in the same family as the lily and the orchid.
A medium-sized orange contains the amount of vitamin C that a healthy adult should eat daily.
Olive trees can live for more than 1,500 years.

Eat a variety of colours of fruit

Eating fruits and vegetables of a variety of different colors can give you the best all-round health benefits; each contains a distinctive blend of super nutrients that are fantastic for our well-being.

Eat Fruit To Help Stop Smoking

People wanting to kick the habit are three times more likely to succeed if they eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, a study shows.

Smokers with higher fruit and vegetable consumption also smoked fewer cigarettes per day, waited longer to smoke in the mornings and scored lower in nicotine dependence tests.

20 More Fruits You Probably Don’t Know

I love fruit and I clearly just can’t get enough of them. When I try to imagine what one of these odd fruits taste like, it’s almost like trying to imagine a new color. I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around something I have never experienced, but that does not mean that I won’t try to experience as many as I possibly can in my lifetime. So, on account of all the omissions that were listed on the previous top 20 fruits you probably don’t know, I decided to include them and make the rest of the entries a bit more global. There are hundreds of fruits out there, but as I can’t carry on writing lists about all of them, I have settled for a few that I had never heard of and found interesting. Once again, I have not written this list in any special order, but decided on giving the number 1 spot to the most repeated omission.

A Few Interesting Fruit Facts

Avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams.
Apples contain an antioxidant that fights cancer .
The banana plant is in the same family as the lily and the orchid.
A medium-sized orange contains the amount of vitamin C that a healthy adult should eat daily.

Fruit Myths

“If I drink one glass of apple juice and one glass of orange juice that counts 2 servings of fruit” – A glass (200ml) of 100% fruit juice only counts once towards the 5-A-DAY target for fruit and vegetables, regardless of how much you drink – this is because fruit juice has very little fibre.

Top 20 Fruits you probably dont know!!

I was playing a game the other day, in which you have to come up with fruit that starts with every letter of the alphabet. Apple, banana, cherry…. and that is about where I hit a blank. My epic failure at this game made me do some research and what I discovered was a whole world of delicious looking fruit that I had never even known about! I was completely shocked to find that there are actually hundreds of different types of fruit (no need to include them all as omissions in the comments), most of which I had never even heard of. This list is not to rank the fruit, but rather just to inform you about them. The only fruit on this list I consider ranked is No: 1, as it deserves the spot, in clearly being the coolest fruit on the planet. How many of these exotically delicious fruit have you tried?