How Much Water Should I Drink? 1920 and 2020 Recommendations

glass of waterI recently came across advice in a 1920 home economics textbook about how much water we should drink each day – which led me to search for 2020 advice.

1920 Recommendations

When one rises in the morning, it is well to drink one or two glassfuls of water. From one to two quarts of water, either as plain water or in beverages, –should be taken each day. It used to be thought that water drinking during a meal was harmful. Scientific investigations have shown that this is a mistaken idea. Water may be drunk at mealtime. Indeed it has been found that it aids in the digestive processes, provided foods are not “rinsed down” with it, and provided very cold water is not used.

School and Home Cooking by Carlotta C. Greer (1920)

2020 Recommendations

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that men drink 15.5 cups of water a day, and women drink 11.5 cups a day. But this is just a guideline.

How much water you need depends on a number of factors, such as what you eat and the way you move your body. Adequate hydration can even change based on climate and what the weather’s like on any given day.

Mayo Clinic

The 1920 advice recommends drinking 1-2 quarts of water a day. Since there are 8 cups in a quart, this would be 8 – 16 cups of water each day. The low end is less than the 2020 recommendation of 15.5 cups a day for men and 11.5 cups for women. A hundred years ago there was no differentiation in the amount needed by gender, whereas it is recognized today that men need more water than women.

20 thoughts on “How Much Water Should I Drink? 1920 and 2020 Recommendations

  1. The thing that occurs to me about water in 1920, was it safe to drink? No answer, but I have this idea that 100 years ago water was best boiled first then made into tea or coffee.

    1. I wonder the same thing about water today, for different reasons. Lead maybe then. Pharmaceuticals maybe now. Arsenic maybe then. Treatment chemicals not filtered out maybe now.

  2. When, as a teen, I got migraines, my elderly Aunt Rachel told me I needed to drink lots of water. I started drinking more then, and have never had those horrible headaches again! Now I am elderly myself – lol.

  3. I can drink 4 liters in a day if I’m out hiking in the mountains in the warm weather. But when I’m working at the screen the whole day I need at most a liter and a half (6 cups). I suppose the recommendations are for manual workers. You should just drink what you need, and maybe a little more, because most people do tend to drink a bit less than what they need. Especially as they grow older.

  4. A nice comparison that shows how nutrition and good health ideas change. I remember just a few years ago it was recommended that adults drink 8 cups of water. As much as I champion drinking water, I hope the recommended requirement does not increase any more!

  5. If I had to face two cups of water first thing in the morning,I’d never get out of bed!😄 so I just take my water in form of coffee. I do try to drink more water… it has to be cold though not a tap water drinker.

  6. Interesting post Cheryl! I always heard it was half your body weight although I always aim for 3 liters or more 🙂

  7. My grandmother never drank water with her meals, and I always wondered why. I hadn’t realized that at one time, it was considered dangerous to do that! I guess she just missed the announcement that it was okay to do that.

  8. It’s encouraging to know that healthy habits were thought of back in the day. I don’t know why I imagined they weren’t. My grandfather used to wake up and drink a glass of water with a spoonful of cider vinegar in it. I also remember my mother-in-law saying once that you shouldn’t drink water while eating, so she must have heard that and lived by it. Interesting.

  9. Good to see the older version compared to the current thinking. I think the 1920 version is probably closer to a healthy amount than the 2020 one. It should be about 1.6 Litres a day unless the weather is very hot or one is very active, and then it should be more. Myself, I rarely drink that though, as I rarely feel thirsty and forget to drink enough. I have to force myself, most days.

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