Despite the fact that the human body is roughly 60% water, some people absolutely loathe the taste of it. Charlotte, a water hater, tells Bustle, “When I take a mouthful, I feel like I'm going to retch; it reminds me of being in a swimming pool as a child and accidentally ingesting a load of water up my nose. It's a similar sensation.”
Like any peculiar movement, there are public faces for these sorts of things. Several celebrities have bravely gone on the record to state themselves as water haters. Vanessa Hudgens has “fainted twice from dehydration,” which led her to found a cactus water company, while Zendaya dislikes water, coffee, energy drinks, and soda. According to Lindsay Lohan, “Water is so boring.”
This is not entirely untrue. Water itself has no color, taste, or smell to the average person. However, there’s also evidence to suggest the source of water can play a role in how it tastes.
“Most people feel neutral about it or lean towards enjoying it, but there are some folks who really do hate the taste of water, similar to how you may hate the taste of pickles,” Ellen Davenport, an anti-diet-culture licensed nutritionist based in Chicago, tells Bustle. “They may be ‘supertasters,’ which is a term used to describe people who have very strong taste reactions compared to other people — especially bitter or sour foods and drinks. Supertasters actually have more taste buds than an average taster. It's possible that supertasters can taste the minerals in the water they are drinking, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, [and] chloride.”
Charlotte, for example, has avoided the drink for as long as she can remember. “I've struggled drinking water ever since I was a kid,” she says. “The only way I can get around it is by taking a mouthful, then holding it in my mouth for a few seconds. I can never swallow it straight away, it's like my jaw gets locked? I've also found that ice cold water goes down much better than room temperature, as does taking small sips either from a glass or a straw. Oh, and don't even get me started on fizzy water. I long to be one of those chic people who orders it at a restaurant, but it tastes like pins and needles to me.”
And she’s not the only one. Georgia says that she “never craves water,” and would rather drink coffee or Coke. Even when she’s thirsty, she prefers to reach for a Pedialyte or Gatorade because of their sugary taste. On average, she drinks eight to 12 ounces of water per day (or at least tries to). “Water isn’t satisfying,” she says.
The recommended amount of water a person should drink can be calculated by dividing their weight (in pounds) in half and drinking that many ounces per day.
Extreme dehydration is rare for those who have access to water, but even minor symptoms of dehydration can build up to more serious health issues. When the body doesn’t get enough water, necessary functions will start to decrease. “Water is crucial not only for comfortable bowel movements, but to help your body naturally get rid of toxins, excess cholesterol, [and] hormones through your detoxification systems. More broadly, water makes up the majority of your blood, is necessary for temperature regulation, muscle, bone, and brain health, and so much more,” Davenport says.
Taste aside, even water haters will admit that they’ll notice a change in their bodies when they go for a long period of time without it. “Being dehydrated sucks. I've suffered from tension headaches since I was 10 years old, and dehydration can definitely make that worse, and even sometimes kick them off,” says Charlotte. “I tend to be more dehydrated when I'm stressed, as I have lots of meetings and get to the end of the day and realize I haven't drank anything.”
According to Davenport, there’s no real substitution for water, but there are ways to make it more bearable for those who truly cannot stomach it. “They can add citrus like lemon or lime, add cucumbers or berries to make infused water, or buy water-flavoring drops. For regular use, I recommend looking for flavor drops that have as few ingredients as possible to help limit artificial colorings and flavors,” she says. “Herbal teas are also a great way to drink water while also getting great health benefits. You can make homemade Gatorade by combining a pinch of sea salt, water, honey, and lemon or lime juice.”
Georgia — who rehydrates with regular Coke after working out — only recently started attempting to drink more water after her friends started bullying her about it. To keep herself accountable, she's started using a daily habit tracker (which Davenport also recommended) and drinking from glass water bottles that she finds aesthetically pleasing. She struggles to maintain a consistent intake, but it’s better than nothing.
The recommended amount of water a person should drink can be calculated by dividing their weight (in pounds) in half and drinking that many ounces per day. Admittedly, most people in America are not drinking enough water, much less the people who already have a bias against it. For supertasters, Davenport recommends looking into water filters like The Berkey and putting reminders in places where they can be seen (whether that be a mobile calendar or a physical planner).
Regardless of personal preference towards it, the fact of the matter remains that our bodies need water. As my friend once said to our other water-hating friend, "I know your pee stinks, I know your p*ssy is dry, and these are fixable things.”
Ellen Davenport, nutritionist