Myths and truths about hydration, and why many people don’t realize they are dehydrated
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 by: Paul Waters
Are you drinking enough water? Most people often forget the simple act of keeping themselves properly hydratedbecause they’re preoccupied with work or some other activity. Oftentimes, people will only remember drinking when they’re already thirsty, which shouldn’t be the case. The body of a normal human adult is comprised of 60 percent water, and he or she must consume a specific amount of water to survive. Water helps lubricate joints, produce saliva, remove waste through urination, and regulate body temperature through sweating. Dehydration occurs when your body is not getting enough, or is losing too much water.
Signs of dehydration
The symptoms of dehydration depend on how long you’ve gone without drinking, or how much water you’re body had lost. Here are the most common signs of dehydration.
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Headache, dizziness, and lightheadedness
- Reduced amount of urine
- No tears when crying
- Inactivity (in children)
- Muscle weakness
The best way to know if you’re dehydrated is by checking the color of your urine. Clear or light-colored urine indicates that you’re well-hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine means that you’re not drinking enough water. Prolonged periods of dehydration can lead to health problems, including low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and unconsciousness. Almost anyone is prone to dehydration. Just missing a couple of sips of water can increase your chances of dehydration, but there are groups who are more at risk than others, such as:
- Children and infants. Young children and infants are prone to diarrhea, which increases their chances of being dehydrated.
- Older adults. As you age, your body’s ability to effectively conserve water dramatically decreases.
- People with chronic illness. People suffering from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney disease, adrenal gland disorders, and alcoholism have an increased risk of dehydration. (Related: The Dangers of Dehydration (Part I))
- Athletes. Athletes participating in marathons, mountain climbing, triathlons, and cross-country cycling lose a significant amount of water over a short period of time. During heavy exercise, your body loses around 24 to 32 ounces of water every hour.
How much should you be drinking?
Health experts suggest that you should drink half of your body’s total weight in ounces every day. For example, if you weigh around 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water in one day.
Remember to take it nice and slow. The most effective way of hydrating your body is to sip two to three ounces of water at a time. Drinking a large amount of water in a short amount of time can dilute your blood, which carries its own health risks. Remember to always drink water with your meals. When you’re actively exercising, always take a couple of sips during and after. If you don’t get the chance to drink water on a regular basis, consuming fruits and vegetables with high water content can also help in keeping you hydrated. They include watermelon, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, raspberries, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, green peppers, celery, and spinach.
What kind of water should you be drinking?
Now that you know the importance of staying hydrated, it’s time to know what kind of water to drink. Mineral-rich water is naturally clean, pure, and contains naturally occurring minerals which are beneficial for your overall health. Mineral-rich water refers to:
- Well water – Water that comes a hole drilled in the ground. It uses a pump to tap water from an underground source and bring it to the surface.
- Natural spring water – Originates in a natural spring which is bottled at the source.
- Artesian water – Comes from a clean and natural source, but goes through purification and is bottled off-site.
- Mineral water – Can be either artesian or natural spring water that comes from a natural underground source. Mineral water should have at least 250 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved minerals and trace elements.
Common myths about dehydration and hydration
When it comes to keeping yourself hydrated, there are facts and myths you need to be aware of.
- Drinking 8 glasses a day. This one is a myth. The amount of water you need to drink depends on your physical activity and how much you’re using your body’s water supply. Existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease are factors that affect how much water you can drink.
- There’s a limit to how much you can drink. There’s evidence to suggest that some people suffer from a condition called “overhydration.” Overhydration happens when your kidneys can’t get rid of excess water properly. Other factors that can contribute to overhydration are certain liver and heart problems. Overhydration can lower your body’s sodium levels which can cause loss of energy, confusion, seizures, and in some cases, coma.
- Drinking water promotes weight loss. Although water does not trigger weight loss, it can help you feel fuller if taken before a meal. This helps minimize your intake of high-calorie foods.
Remember, to maintain a clean and healthy lifestyle, it’s important to keep your body properly hydrated. Don’t wait for the thirst to hit you. Make sure that you carry a water bottle with you and take a sip from it regularly. This will ensure that you are well-hydrated for the entire day.