Water is pretty boring, as far as beverages go. It doesn’t have a catchy jingle, a secret family recipe or even a taste, really. Yet people can’t seem to get enough of it.
“I get people in my office every day, every week, saying something like, ‘I’m concerned I’m not hydrated,’” said Lauren Antonucci, a nutritionist in New York City.
Their concerns may be based on conventional wisdom. One well-known recommendation suggests drinking eight glasses of water a day; another warns that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
But anxiety about water consumption could also stem from a different, more philosophical source: Hydration is now marketed as a cure for nearly all of life’s woes.
The Answer to Everything
Water, in recent years, has been imbued with the powers of a mysterious elixir. The latest “it” celebrity’s skin care secret? Oh, just water. Feeling sluggish? You probably need more water. Uninspired and utterly hopeless about your career and romantic prospects? Well, have you had any water today?
People hydrate as if their reputations depend on it. They dutifully carry water bottles with them wherever they go, draining and refilling them with gusto.
Some go so far as to track their consumption in a journal, or with a mobile app. (There’s one that uses a plant as a metaphor for the user’s well-being. Depending on the volume of water one has consumed, it may appear to be thriving or wilting.)
Hydration is the mark of a well-adjusted, successful person. On Jan. 1, Twitter flooded with resolutions to drink more water, including from Twitter’s brand account.
But will more conscious hydration really make for a more productive 2020?
“There’s no evidence that a little bit of dehydration really impacts anybody’s performance,” said Dr. Mitchell Rosner, a kidney specialist at the University of Virginia who studies overhydration in athletes, in a phone interview.