Can you be healthy without ever drinking plain water?

Q: Is it possible to live a healthy life without drinking plain water (as long as you drink other liquids)?

from Julio Vazquez via Facebook

Probably, although it depends what you intend drinking. The body has a variety of remarkable ways to ensure it receives the correct amount of water.

To keep the body ticking over, an average man will need to take in 2 litres of water a day. Surprisingly, only a proportion of this – 900 ml – need come from what we drink. A significant amount of water (800 ml) comes from what we eat: 80% of fruit and 15% of meat is water. The digestive system is highly efficient at extracting water from whatever we eat or drink. A small amount of water is manufactured internally by the body through the processes of making energy from food (termed ‘cellular respiration’).

Put simply, the body is highly efficient at extracting water from whatever we put down our gullets. So, in principle, providing your intake of water (be it from food or drink) is sufficient – it needn’t matter what you drink. If you are exercising, in a hot climate or unwell then the fluid requirements will be higher. Your thirst is generally a good guide as to how much to drink.

However, if you spend your life drinking soda, there will be probably be consequences; the acidity and sugar resulting in tooth decay being just one. Drink only coffee, and you will line yourself for some serious caffeine side-effects. Sea water has too high a salt concentration to survive on.

The kidneys are the organs with the principle organs responsible for keeping water, salt and blood impurity levels controlled. I’m sure it is possible to be perfectly healthy by living off a variety of dilute drinks (herbal teas, etc). However, because many soft drinks (e.g. coke) are high in sugar and acidity it would recommended to principally drink plain water.

Answered by Dr Stu

Article by Stuart Farrimond

November 4, 2012

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at or his poncy personal website Here's his .

Back To Top

Leave Your Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *