Keeping hydrated by drinking eight glasses of water each day help keep the body’s systems functioning at optimal levels. I used to be a Corpsman in the Navy who was trained to go out into the field with Marines. One of the things that we were taught was the value of making sure the troops drank enough water in stressful situations. We saw firsthand how the Marines who didn’t maintain their hydration ended up in sickbay while the ones who did drink plenty of water were able to train much harder than their dehydrated counterparts. This wasn’t advice given just for hot areas either. When I trained with Marines who trained for arctic conditions, water was also of vital importance.
Why does it work? Well the way I see it, water acts like antifreeze in your body’s cooling system. I remember when I was a kid, it was zero degrees outside. The hose on the line broke and the car overheated. Our bodies work the same way in that when it doesn’t have enough coolant in the system (in our body’s case—water), the body overheats even if the temperature outside is below zero.
Another reason that drinking eight glasses of ice water in a day is recommended is that if you drink eight glasses of ice water per day, it increases your metabolism by around 100 calories per day. This fact is extremely helpful when trying to lose weight. The calories burned from drinking ice water is equal to the calories burned by walking one mile each day, or by cutting back on calorie intake of 100 calories each day. Simply by a glass of ice water each day, you could use 36600 extra calories per year or approximately ten pounds per year.
I’m not a doctor, and I’m not saying that anyone should starve him or herself to death in order to combat a cold, but since water is the body’s best diuretic, it plays a major role in combating colds. Have you ever heard the old wives tale “feed a fever and starve a cold”? It’s not as much of an old wives tale as many would think, at least not the second half anyway. What most people don’t realize is that it is not actually the cold virus that is causing the symptoms we feel. It is actually the toxins that are in our body from our own antibodies fighting the virus that cause the achy muscles, scratchy throat, coughing, stuffy head, and overproduction of mucus. These toxins are created from the death of cells and viruses. By not eating we are starving these cells, similar to the way that antibiotics work on bacteria. (Remember though, colds are caused by viruses, not bacteria, so antibiotics do not help fight colds.) Neither the good cells nor the bad cells are being fed. The cells and viruses become sluggish so they don’t fight against one another quite as hard. They don’t put off as many toxins, so the water can effectively flush the toxins from our bodies. I hope this explanation also gives a better understanding of why we drink more fluids when we have a cold. This is a gross oversimplification of the process, but I think you get the idea.
Unless you have a disease where your doctor recommends limiting fluid intake, eight glasses of water per day isn’t likely to hurt you, anyway. So even if it isn’t necessary to drink that much water it won’t do you any harm to keep drinking water. But maybe someday we’ll find out that we really should drink that much water. Besides, who knows, maybe we’ll soon discover that the cure for the common cold was right there in our water glass all along.