We know staying hydrated is important. To help you out, here are seven water myths you can allow to evaporate thanks to the experts at the National Council on Aging.
Myth #1: If you’re not thirsty, you’re not dehydrated.
Fact: You can be dehydrated but not feel thirsty. In fact, you can lose 2-3 percent of your body weight in fluids before you even realize you need a drink. As we age, our natural thirst can gradually diminish, so keeping hydrated is key self-care for older adults. If your urine is pale and clear, your fluid intake is probably sufficient; dark or brown urine can indicate dehydration.
Myth #2: You can’t drink too much water.
Fact: You can overdo your water intake by drinking more than your body can flush out. This condition, called hyponatremia or water toxicity, can result in dangerously low sodium levels, causing confusion, nausea, headaches, and convulsions. Sometimes, it can even lead to death. People with heart failure, kidney failure, or Addison’s disease are prone to hyponatremia, as are some endurance athletes.
Myth #3: Sports drinks are the best choice to rehydrate after vigorous workouts.
Fact: These highly promoted beverages may contain hydrogenated oils, which can damage your thyroid, or lots of sugar. Sports drinks with less sugar and without artificial additives can be beneficial after a long, strenuous workout, but otherwise water is fine.
Myth #4: Drinking water is the only way to stay hydrated.
Fact: Health experts say we get 20 percent of our fluid intake through foods with a high-water content like cucumbers, celery, strawberries, grapefruit, spinach, and watermelon. During colder months, boost your fluid intake by eating low-sodium soups, broths, and stews. Salty, high-sodium foods such as potato chips and packaged meals can actually dehydrate your body by drawing water out from your cells.
Myth #5: We all need eight glasses of water per day.
Fact: Your fluid intake is based on your age, activity level, diet, health, and medications. Some drugs, such as diuretics, chemotherapy drugs, and diabetes medication, can increase your risk for dehydration. In general, you should take one-third of your body weight and drink that number of fluid ounces daily. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, try to drink 50 ounces of water. Speak to your healthcare provider about the fluid intake that’s right for you.
Myth #6: Coffee dehydrates you.
Fact: For years, people believed that caffeine was a diuretic, made people lose fluid from their bodies. Recently, health experts have debunked this theory. One study found that consuming up to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day caused no evidence of dehydration.
Myth #7: You can always fix dehydration by drinking more water.
Fact: Treating dehydration depends on the individual and symptoms. Mild dehydration, with symptoms such as a dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps, can often be treated with water or a drink containing electrolytes. Moderate to serious dehydration, with symptoms such as confusion, dry and sunken eyes, severe muscle cramps, low blood pressure, may require medical care and intravenous fluids.