Weekly Clinical Service Dose: 5 Things You Need to Know About Staying Hydrated This Summer
Every single cell in the human body needs water to function correctly. We need water to regulate our temperature, to cushion and protect joints and organs and to help digestion move effortlessly. Most of us drink at least some water every day, but now that it’s summer and the mercury is rising, it’s important to be more vigilant than ever.
Here are some of the most common dehydration myths — and the facts behind them.
Myth: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Fact: It’s not too late. In fact, thirst is the body’s way of telling you to drink water, and you’re not at risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated the minute you feel a little parched.
Myth: Everyone needs to drink eight glasses of water a day.
Fact: This general rule of thumb is outdated, propagated today mostly by bottled water companies. So how much do you really need to drink? The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends men get roughly three liters of total beverage intake every day, and women get 2.2 liters, while others say there’s no need to force water consumption if you’re not thirsty.
Myth: Clear urine is a sure sign of hydration.
Fact: While keeping an eye on your urine output maybe isn’t the most pleasant summer activity, it really can provide a measure of how hydrated (or dehydrated) you are, essentially in real time. But it’s not clear urine that you’re looking for, but rather a pale yellow.
Myth: Exercisers need sports drinks
Fact: If you’re working out for less than an hour, water will do just fine. You don’t deplete electrolyte and glycogen reserves until you’ve been exercising intensely for over an hour. Endurance athletes can benefit from the right mix of sugar (read: energy) and sodium, although today’s sports drinks, with their miles-long ingredients list full of impossible-to-pronounce artificial additives may not necessarily be the smartest pick.
Myth: Coffee dehydrates you.
Fact: Only if you overdo it. While caffeine is dehydrating, the water in coffee (and tea, for that matter) more than makes up for the effects, ultimately leaving you more hydrated than you were, pre-java. Consuming 500 or more milligrams of caffeine a day — anywhere from around three to five cups of coffee — could put you at risk for dehydration
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