By Kirsten Licht, MS, health promotions analyst
Our bodies are comprised of about 60 percent water, and this water is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails; removing waste through urine; and controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Although we should make drinking water a priority in our day, it’s important to recognize that there are many commonly believed myths about hydration:
MYTH 1: You need 8 cups of water a day.
It’s important to drink water daily, but each person’s intake needs are different. You may need more than eight glasses or you may need less. Your needs can change from day to day and depend on your size, weight, outside temperature, daily activities and the foods you’ve eaten.
MYTH 2: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
If you feel thirsty, you’re not already dehydrated — you’re just thirsty; drink some water and you will likely feel better. Our thirst is pretty accurate in reporting our hydration needs.
Dehydration becomes a problem when you exceed a five to eight percent body water reduction. Symptoms of dehydration are much more severe than a slightly dry mouth. They include dizziness, fatigue, confusion, or not being able to stay awake; faintness that is not relieved by lying down; an inability to stand or walk; rapid breathing; a weak, rapid pulse; and loss of consciousness.
MYTH 3: Clear urine is how to tell if you are hydrated.
If your urine comes out clear, it just means you are full of fluid and it is coming out. If your urine is more concentrated, it will be more yellow, but it is still healthy. If your pee is the color of apple juice or darker, or very smelly, you need more fluid.
In fact, It’s possible to drink too much water, which dilutes the body’s sodium levels and can cause symptomatic hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition.
MYTH 4: Caffeine dehydrates you.
The diuretic (causing increased passing of urine) effect of caffeine in coffee and soda is mild compared to the amount of fluid they contain. So the take away is that caffeinated fluids can contribute to your daily fluid intake. However, keep in mind that caffeinated drinks can interfere with your sleep, and some drinks may be high in calories and sugar.
Rather than plan your hydration goals around the common myths above, try following these tips to drink more fluid:
- Make drinking water a part of your daily routine
- Always have water handy
- If you need variety, add flavor to your water with sliced cucumbers, kiwi, etc.
- Set a timer on your phone to remind you to fill up your water bottle
- Eat foods with higher water content — cucumbers, watermelon, spinach, grapes, etc.
- Treat yourself to a nice water bottle
- Find the right temperature — do you like freezing water or is room temperature more for you?