Every January, hydration appears on millions of resolution lists. We’ve all heard the longstanding recommendation to drink eight glasses of water a day, equivalent to a 2-liter bottle, and so in January, water trackers are downloaded in droves. For a lot of hydration experts, this is the bad advice that won’t die. Add to this, common viral suggestions to drink even more than 64 ounces of water (one suggests drinking your body weight in ounces!) and plugs for hydration drinks that promise to be better than water. When it comes to hydration there is a lot of misinformation out there.
The fact is that your optimal intake depends on a bunch of variables, each unique to you.
- Body size
- Activity level
- Where you live
- Health status
Research shows that people who live in hot and humid environments and at high altitudes, as well as athletes, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with high levels of physical activity need to drink more water. The newest data reveals that the average amount of water necessary for most people is more like 6-7 8oz glasses per day.
Where did the idea that we don’t drink enough water come from? You don’t have to look too hard to find links between organizations that promote drinking more water to companies that produce bottled water. Additionally, companies that manufacture sports drinks have been known to promote the “science” of hydration. So, let’s separate science from hype by looking at a few hydration myths.
4 Common Myths About Hydration
If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
False! When you lose about 2% of your fluids, which is very tolerable for most people, you get thirsty. So, you drink some water, and you’re good to go. However, mild dehydration has been linked to worsened mood and lower alertness, so maintaining a level of hydration throughout the day will keep you happier and more productive.
Caffeine dehydrates you.
False! Who else is happy to hear that? It turns out that this myth is based on an almost 100-year-old study that looked at only a few people. Newer research reveals that this myth doesn’t hold up. But do you know what does dehydrate you? Alcohol.
Food doesn’t count towards hydration.
False! Most people get around 20% of their water intake from food, depending on their diet. Research shows that milk is one of the best beverages for hydration, even better than water or sports drinks due to its natural electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein. Other hydrating foods include yogurt, apples, oranges, lettuce, strawberries, watermelon, and celery.
Sports drinks and electrolyte drinks are more hydrating than water.
False (except in extreme situations)! Water should be the primary hydration source for children and adults. Sports drinks are not more hydrating than water. However, sports drinks and electrolyte drinks are useful when trying to rehydrate after high intensity activity or during illnesses with high fever and gastrointestinal distress. The electrolyte content in drinks like Gatorade or Pedialyte makes rehydration more efficient for athletes and patients who are very dehydrated.
The Bottom Line
The best way to determine whether you’re getting enough fluid is to look at your urine. If your urine is pale yellow like lemonade, you’re hydrated. Darker urine that looks like apple juice indicates that you need to increase your fluid intake.
At Amaze we want to help you get healthy and stay healthy. If you think Amaze might be able to help, chances are we can. So, please reach out! Connect with a medical provider through your Amaze account or call (720) 577-5251.