No doubt many Europeans raised their eyebrows at this story which hit the papers last week: ‘European Union bans claim that water can prevent dehydration‘. It stems from the fact that EU officials found no conclusive evidence that drinking water prevents dehydration, despite a three-year investigation into the hypothesis, and they therefore don’t want sellers of bottled water to trade on the claim that it does. So, should we believe what they say about water?
The ruling has caused some considerable controversy. Although some scientists have said that the finding is technically correct, others have pointed out that it’s the kind of ruling that sends the wrong message to consumers about the benefits of drinking water. Others have noted that if every common-sense practice had to be backed up by scientific rigor, we’d be in trouble.
Here’s what Dr. John Briffa had to say on the matter in his blog post on the subject:
…should we dispense with things that have no evidence to support them even though they seem like the right thing to do and experience shows to be broadly beneficial? If we do dispense with such things, then we doctors better shut up shop – because the great majority of medical practice is not supported by rigorous scientific evidence. Surgery is a prime example. When someone comes in with the signs and symptoms of an infected appendix, surgeons do not wait for ‘randomised controlled trials’ before they operate. Neither do they wait for sufficient supportive evidence before they take steps to stem significant bleeding sustained during injury – they just get on with saving people’s lives, even in the absence of evidence.
For me, the real issue is this: I know if I go for any great length of time without drinking water, I’m going to feel bad. I don’t need to believe what they say about water to make that assessment for myself. I also know that I don’t need to be compulsively drinking bottled water with sexy labels to avoid this condition. Other water-containing fluids will help (and so will water-containing foods).
On a daily basis, in addition to drinking water, I’m also likely to drink coconut milk, green smoothies, herbal infusions – and of course, good old tea and coffee. It’s another great example of ‘do what you know works for your body’. You don’t have to wait until science – or in this case, bureaucracy – catches up.
To add to the comedy value of the whole escapade, consider this: just a few days after the original report, the EU announced that it was OK to claim that drinking water can “help regulate the body’s temperature and help it carry out its normal physical and cognitive functions”. Oh good, now that that’s been scientifically proven, I’m sure I’ll get better results from ensuring I take in enough of the liquid stuff. Or perhaps I just won’t believe what they say about water, and will make up my own mind instead!
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Brian Cormack Carr is a life and career coach, charity CEO, writer, and advocate of a real foods diet.
His home on the web is www.cormackcarr.com where you will find more articles, his free Lifecrafting Newsletter, and information about his online career-creation programme www.vitalvocation.com.
You can follow Brian on Twitter: @cormackcarr