Our health and wellness columnist Dr Andrea Lim debunks popular water myths that we've heard all our lives and sheds some light on their origins.

How often do you hear "drink more water" as the answer to any sort of ailment that we might have, whether it be a stomach bug or a broken ankle? For those of you who have followed this column, you know I love myth-busting; so here are a few of my favourite water myths.

1. Drink 8 glasses of water a day

Shot glasses or pint glasses?  This one is so confusing it really should be thrown out. The official guideline is to divide your body weight in half (in pounds), and drink that many ounces (1 ounce=30ml). More practically, pay attention to signs of dehydration—tiredness, headaches, muscle cramps, poor sleep and chapped lips.

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 2. Drink water when it’s hazy

Every year when our Malaysian skies are covered in hazy smog, the most popular advice dished out is to drink more water. Let’s stick to putting masks on and keeping the windows closed. Or if you have any remaining annual leave, book a holiday and come back when the fires are out.

 3. Alkaline water

This one has gained popularity in the recent years with its’ parent the alkaline diet. To go into the acid/alkaline (pH) balance of our bodies is not the focus of this piece, but in short--our bodies, in a healthy state, maintain a pre-determined pH of their own regardless of the pH of the water we drink. So stick to good old normal water.

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 4. Hot/warm water is good for your health

This one originates from a time where contaminants were found in water that caused disease, and therefore all water had to be boiled before it was consumed, leading to the now popular notion that drinking hot water is beneficial to health. 

 5. Water flushes out fat

Consuming adequate amounts of water can help us maintain a healthy weight—but by keeping us fuller so that we do not mistake thirst for hunger—not by flushing fat out of our bodies.

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