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8 Glasses a Day? The Real Deal on Water

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always heard doctors, parents, teachers, and friends stress the importance of staying hydrated. My doctor would always say staying hydrated will keep my immune system up to par, and that drinking enough water is especially necessary when fighting off the flu or a cold. My mom always said that water gives you good skin and helps you keep extra weight off. My teachers constantly reminded me to drink enough water before a test because your brain can’t function properly if it doesn’t have enough water. And, as college students, the importance of drinking enough water before and after drinking is always encouraged. Anytime I’ve complained of a hangover headache, my friends constantly push Smart Water bottles toward me.  

We all know that water is important—it’s no secret that about 70 percent of our bodies are made up of H2O. But is eight glasses a day really the right amount? And can water seriously improve my skin, get me better when I’m sick, make me smart, and even prevent the dreaded morning-after headache? We investigated to give you the real deal on water.

So what does it actually do?

Since so much of the body is made up of water, the liquid is responsible for a lot in the body. Water brings nutrients and oxygen into the cells, plays a part in metabolism, regulates our temperature, protects and moisturizes our lungs and joints, and detoxifies our bodies. Getting enough water is vital for your body to function properly. “Water is a nutrient, actually, even though there is no ‘nutrition’ in a glass of water, per se,” says Leanne Ely, a nutritionist and author of Saving Dinner, a New York Times Best Selling series. This nutrient has so many benefits, especially for the collegiette™.  

The Benefits of Drinking Enough Water…

It reduces a hangover

Think back to the last time you had a serious hangover. Chances are you woke up that morning incredibly parched and ended up chugging glass after glass of water. Since alcohol dehydrates your body, the best cure for it is replenishing that water you lost. “People are dehydrated post-hangover because the body uses so much water in an attempt to process the alcohol, sugar, and toxins,” says Wendy Bailey, a digestive health expert at Probiotics.org. The water you drink the morning after also helps your body get rid of the alcohol toxins in your body. “Hangovers are mostly an overload of toxins in the body,” she adds. Drinking enough water clears out your system and replenishes what you lost during the night out.

“After drinking all night, I try to drink at least a bottle of water before bed, and even then, I still typically wake up a few times during the night to chug some more,” says Amy, a senior at the University of Maryland. “In the morning, I usually drink a lot of water too, and I know that once my pee looks clear, I’ve probably drank enough water to compensate for the alcohol I drank the night before.”

It helps you lose weight

While water molecules aren’t exactly an army that defeats and carries fat out of your body, drinking water can definitely help keep your weight in check. According to a study by Dr. Brenda Davy, associate professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech, people who drank water before their meals consumed an average of 75 calories fewer during that meal. By consistently drinking water before a meal and eating fewer calories, you could lose up to 14.5 pounds in a year! 
Sometimes, your body confuses thirst for hunger, so you’ll eat when you’re actually thirsty. When you drink water before a meal, you let your body get hydrated, and could potentially realize that you’re not as hungry as you originally thought. Staying hydrated also ups your metabolism, especially if you’re drinking water cold, according to WebMD, because your body burns extra calories trying to warm up the water.

“I never used to drink enough water – usually only three glasses a day – but as part of my spring break diet, I’m trying to drink more water because I heard that it makes you not as hungry,” says Jennifer, a sophomore at Syracuse University. “I’ve only been doing it for like three weeks, but I’ve already noticed that I feel fuller after I drink water, so I normally don’t eat as much as I normally would. And I feel like my body is much more regulated than it used to be.” 

So if you’re on a mission to drop some pounds or even maintain your weight, make sure you’re getting enough of that H20! 


It helps you think

Just about 90 percent of the brain is made up of water, so you can see why staying hydrated is essential to making your brain function correctly. Even being slightly dehydrated means that your brain cells can’t function well and their firing rate slows down. This means that you can’t process information as quickly, and it becomes more difficult to dig things up from your memory. “Cognitive function has been shown to decrease by being under-hydrated by just one 8 oz cup of water,” Bailey says.

“I don’t know if I can say that drinking water makes me smarter, but I definitely feel like my head is more clear when I’m hydrated and nine times out of ten, when I have a headache, it’s because I’m dehydrated,” says Abbey, a senior at the University of Massachusetts. 

Next time you have a big test to take, make sure to hydrate yourself enough to score an A.

It makes your skin glow

Have you ever looked in the mirror to see that your skin looked flakey and pale? When you don’t sip on enough water, your skin actually can be affected, and no amount of moisturizer can fix it. Being dehydrated affects all your cells, including skin cells, so you can see the dryness on the surface of your skin. Water nourishes your skin and plumps it up, according to WebMD, and it leaves your face clear and smooth. And when it comes to acne and blemishes, drinking more water will detoxify your skin and thus get rid of most of the impurities.  
“Anytime I start breaking out, I always wash my face twice a day and try to drink more water,” says Jeanine, a senior at the University of Michigan. “It takes a little while, but I feel like it cleans out my skin.”  
While you won’t see results over night, drinking enough water for even a week will make your skin look much healthier.

Is eight glasses a day accurate?

So the million dollar question is this: how much water should we actually be drinking to ensure that we’re hydrated enough to get all the benefits of water? While the eight glasses a day is accurate for some, it’s not a blanket statement that applies to everyone. “Women should drink a minimum of one ounce of water per two pounds of body weight,” Bailey says. “In other words, for each 50 pounds of body weight, you should drink three 8-oz. glasses of water.” So if you only weigh around 100 lb., you only need six 8-oz. glasses of water each day.  But if you’re closer to 150 lb., you should shoot for nine. 

When it comes to exercising, drinking alcohol, and drinking caffeine, it’s important to up your water intake. Since all three dehydrate you, in order to keep your body healthy, Ely suggests drinking an extra glass of water for every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you drink. For every 30 minutes of exercise, replenish your body with one extra glass of water.

What if I don’t like water?

Many girls don’t like the taste of water, and struggle to get it down because it’s so plain. If that’s the case, you can flavor your H2O with a squeeze of lemon or orange, or purchase some low-calorie Crystal Light packets to spice up your drink. Fruit juices, tea, coffee and other beverages still count toward your total water consumption, but remember, coffee makes you even more thirsty, so it probably is best to try the other options, instead.

You can get some of your water from foods, as well, and the average person consumes 20 percent of their daily-required water from food. Fruits and vegetables are great food sources of water, as are soups, yogurt, oatmeal, and milk. In fact, lettuce is 95 percent water, orange juice is 88 percent water, and yogurt is 85 percent water, so just by snacking on these foods, you’re giving your body more water without even realizing it.

How can I drink more water?

So you want to get into a habit of drinking more water? Follow our tips for extra sips!

  1. Purchase a large water bottle (preferably about how many ounces you are supposed to drink per day) and carry it with you to school, work, your internship, to the gym, and so on. Make sure you finish drinking the water by the time you go to sleep.
  2. Drink from a straw – you tend to consume more water this way.
  3. Drink a glass of water before every meal.
  4. In between drinks at the bar, ask for a cup of ice water.
  5. Make it a point to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
  6. Keep a bottle or cup of water next to your bed, and drink it if you wake up in the middle of the night.
  7. Order a glass of water along with your drink at a restaurant.
  8. Incorporate a serving of fruits and vegetables into every meal to consume more water.
  9. Drink a glass of water in between each class.
  10. Write down how much water you drink each day so you can make a point to add more if you need to.

There you have it, collegiettes! Now run to the nearest grocery store and stock up on the liquid goodness (or just head to the tap). You’ll thank us when your skin is glowing, your weight is in check, you ace your test…and you have no hangover come morning.


Wendy Bailey, digestive health expert at Probiotics.com 
Leanne Ely, a nutritionist and author of Saving Dinner, a New York Times Best Selling Series. 


College girls around the country 

Nancy Mucciarone is a senior at Syracuse University, majoring in magazine journalism and minoring in psychology. Along with writing for HerCampus, she is the fashion and beauty editor of Equal Time magazine, a freelance writer for Studio One Networks, as well as the public relations vice president for Alpha Xi Delta. She is the former web editor for College magazine, and this past summer, she was loving life in New York City as she participated in the Condé Nast Summer Intern Program as an editorial intern at Footwear News. When she's not making detailed to-do lists or perfecting the grilled cheese sandwich, you can usually find her watching Animal Planet or trying to curb her Milk Dud addiction. She aspires to one day be the bachelorette.