Hydration is a hotly debated topic. How much water is enough? Do we really need as much water as studies have shown? When you throw in variables such as age, weight, medical conditions, and activity level, arriving at a set number of ounces can be difficult. And hydration myths abound, causing well-meaning people to make mistakes when it comes to drinking water.
Let’s dispel some of those myths!
- If you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. This one has been widely known hydration “truth” for ages. If you feel thirsty, your body’s telling you to drink water, not that you’re on the brink of dehydration. Feeling thirsty keeps you from getting dehydrated by telling you, “Hey, drink something!”
- You need eight glasses a day. Maybe, maybe not. This all depends on your gender and your activity level. Even your climate. Experts recommend an average of 90 ounces for women and 120 for men. But, again, let your thirst guide how much you drink.
- Caffeine dehydrates you. Coffee and tea are liquids, so while it’s true that caffeine can slightly increase how much you pee over the next three hours after ingesting it, caffeine itself doesn’t put you at risk of dehydration.
- Your urine needs to be clear. If it’s clear, you’re overdoing it when it comes to water. To indicate healthy hydration levels, your urine needs to be a light yellow. If it’s dark yellow or orange, it means that you need to up your water intake.
- You can’t drink too much water. Surprisingly, yes you can. There’s a condition called hyponatremia, to which athletes are particularly susceptible, where your kidneys can’t process large amounts of water or sports drinks. The body's naturally occurring sodium can’t keep up with the amount of water, leading to swelling in the cells and in severe cases, death. Lesson? Don’t force yourself to drink large amounts of water at a time, and space your water intake throughout the day
- You need to get all of your hydration from water. Actually, many fruits and vegetables have high water content. Some fruits and vegetables (like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and celery) contain over 90% water, in addition to vital nutrients. Getting your five a day may also mean that you’re getting adequate water intake.
- Sports drinks are superior to water when it comes to hydration. Not always. Most of the time, plain water is just fine. But if you’ve been sweating a lot or exercising in hot weather, the electrolytes in sports drinks can help replenish lost sodium and nutrients quickly.
The bottom line: Let your body guide you. If you feel thirsty, drink water. If your urine is too dark, drink more water. With consistent and adequate water intake, you’ll have more energy, clearer skin, and better digestion.
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