Elemental: How much water do you really need to drink?

The well-known “8 x 8” rule — you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day — is not only daunting, it’s unfounded. In fact, nobody is sure where the idea came from, and science doesn’t support it. “It has no basis in fact,” says Michael Farrell, a professor at Monash University in Australia, who studies how the brain responds to thirst and other sensations. Likewise, the old advice to “drink before you’re thirsty” is countered by the latest research, as scientists finally figure out how the brain knows when you’re thirsty, and when you’ve had enough.

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