Melbourne: The widely-held belief that people should drink eight glasses of water a day to lose weight and stay healthy may be a myth that needs debunking, an Australian academic has claimed.

A more realistic approach should be consuming two litres of fluids a day, including tea, coffee and juices from fruits and vegetables, said Spero Tsindos, a researcher at La Trobe University.

"If you are feeling thirsty then drink by all means a beverage. It doesn't have to be water," Tsindos said in an editorial published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

"I'm not saying you shouldn't drink water. I'm saying the need to drink two litres of water on a regular basis is a complete myth," he wrote.

Noting that the exaggerated water needs had driven growth in the bottled water industry, Tsindos said: "Thirty years ago you didn't see a water bottle anywhere, now they appear as fashion accessories."

"I think it's partly this idea that you need to be drinking two litres a day," Tsindos was quoted as saying by ''.

He also called the notion about the dehydrating effect of tea and coffee a myth, saying: "Everyone thinks that, but the diuretic effect of tea and coffee is somewhat overrated.

"We should be educating the general public that beverages like tea and coffee, despite their caffeine content, do not lead to dehydration and will contribute to a person’s fluid needs."

He further said that drinking a large quantity of water in one sitting to reach the daily intake level was pointless because it would not be distributed where it was needed. It would just dilute the urine.

Drinking large amounts of water to lose weight would not work either without a low-calorie diet, he emphasised.

"There is further evidence that water and a well-balanced diet does far more than water alone," Tsindos wrote.

"Water is important for health, but the recommendation of eight glasses of pure water a day appears an overestimation of requirements," he added.


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