About hydration – 6 busted myths

When it comes to tips on health and hydration, information reaches many people in a very short time thanks to technology. But they are not always true. We start believing them and sometimes adopt new daily habits without checking if they are really true. In theory, hydration is as simple as it sounds. Are you thirsty? Drink something. But so much information can be confusing, and having the right knowledge is critical because hydration is key to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

Drink 8 glasses of water

The daily water requirement is not a universal rule. Quite the contrary! It must be determined individually for each person, depending on gender, age, lifestyle or diet. Men need to drink more water than women, the elderly and children are more prone to dehydration, and people who eat fresh fruits and vegetables, especially if they follow a vegetarian diet, absorb more water through food than others. Body weight also affects the amount of water needed, which can be estimated simply by multiplying the number of kilograms by 0.33 ml. But even this amount can be insufficient under certain conditions. Extreme temperatures, whether too high or too low, high altitudes, intense physical activity, or certain medical conditions can increase the body’s need for water to function properly. Therefore, 8 glasses of water may be insufficient for some people.

Thirst is not a sign

Thirst is certainly a very strong signal that you should drink more water. Experts say that our mechanism is pretty accurate, but they suggest that it should not be the only one we rely on. Dehydration is the body’s natural loss of water through sweating, tears, urine, feces and respiration. The kidneys control the body’s water balance, and when we feel the need to replace water, they send a message to our brain to drink more water, making us feel thirsty. It is true that people who do not consume enough water are chronically dehydrated and their bodies no longer feel thirsty. Since they do not feel thirsty, they mistakenly believe that they do not need water. On the other hand, there are situations when we feel thirsty even if we have drunk enough water, but this does not mean that we are dehydrated, such as when we eat spicy foods, have diabetes, or take certain medications.

Only water hydrates you

Water is the best remedy for preventing and treating dehydration, but it is not the only one that can help you. Most fresh fruits and vegetables have a high water content and can help meet your daily water needs. Watermelon (92% water content), peaches (89% water content), oranges (88% water content), cucumbers (95% water content), lettuce (96% water content) or zucchini (94% water content) are among the most suitable options. Other alternatives include soups and borscht due to their high sodium content, which helps water enter the cells and deeply hydrate them, skim milk and yogurt, or unsweetened tea.

You can’t drink too much

Even though water brings many benefits to everyone, no matter when it is drunk, too much water can have negative consequences. In some cases, drinking too much water can even be fatal, as it can lead to symptomatic hyponatremia, a condition in which the level of sodium in the blood becomes too low. This is possible if you drink a large amount of water at one time, which is more common in marathon runners. The sustained physical exertion causes the body temperature to rise too much, so the feeling of thirst becomes extremely strong. Drinking too much water leads to confusion, seizures and even death.

Sport drinks hydrate better

Sports drinks contain a large amount of electrolytes (salt ions) that help the body replace water lost through sweating. These electrolytes are important for proper hydration: they are crucial for the functioning of the nerves and, among other things, help maintain the pH level in the blood. Their loss occurs when you lose too much water in a short period of time, such as after intense exercise, a hot day, or diarrhea. The market is full of soft drinks that, thanks to a good marketing strategy, promise to rehydrate the body quickly. In reality, however, such drinks are only necessary if you have been exercising intensively for a long time, such as running or hiking for hours on a hot day. In other cases, rehydration with plain water is easy. The problem with these drinks is that in many cases they are high in sugar, which means calories and a tendency to dehydrate, so pay attention to the label.

Check the urine color

The color of urine can be an effective indicator to determine the degree of hydration, but there are other important indicators. People who take multivitamins or eat a high-protein diet may have darker urine color than those with dehydration for these reasons. So it’s not just the color that matters, but also the volume. If you go to the bathroom infrequently, it’s a sign that you are probably not drinking enough fluids. On the other hand, if you run to the bathroom every 15 minutes, you may be drinking too much.

The fact is that hydration is essential for a healthy body. Water supports all processes of the body, from respiration, digestion, elimination of toxins from the body, to the cognitive process. The amount of water that each person needs should be adjusted to different factors and whenever there is a loss of fluid to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is accompanied by a feeling of thirst, but may also have other signs, so it is not advisable to wait for them, but to ensure a constant supply of water. Always choose room temperature water – it hydrates better. You can learn more about effective hydration here.

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