Our bodies need water to function properly, regulate our temperatures, help us digest food, and protect our joints and organs. And, in the hot summer months, it’s especially important to drink lots of water while you’re enjoying the great outdoors, exercising, or working outside. Know the truth about dehydration can help you stay healthy, so we’re debunking four common myths about being hydrated.
Myth #1: Dehydration isn’t as serious as everyone says.
Sure, the most common dehydration symptoms include mild headaches and sluggishness. But, dehydration can become severe and require immediate medical attention. According to the Mayo Clinic, serious symptoms include swelling of the brain, kidney failure, seizures, and even death. If dehydration symptoms aren’t caught early and treated with extra fluid, you can develop dizziness, confusion, and extreme thirst. Other serious symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and irritability. Symptoms of severe dehydration should be taken seriously, and medical attention should be sought immediately.
Myth #2: You should drink eight glasses of water a day.
We’ve all heard this rule, but how much truth does it hold? There is no scientific evidence to support the well-known theory of drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Still, your body does need a steady supply of water to operate efficiently and keep you healthy. The Institute of Medicine recently determined that men should drink around three liters, or 13 cups, of total beverages every day, and women should drink around 2.2 liters, or nine cups. These intake levels include more than just water and can apply to coffee, tea, fruit juices, and even foods like watermelon and cucumbers, which have high water content.
Myth #3: Staying hydrated means only drinking water.
Yes, drinking water is an important part of staying hydrated. But, it also takes minerals, electrolytes, and essential fatty acids to keep the water you’re drinking where it needs to be in your body. Electrolytes and trace minerals help transport water to the blood cells, where they then activate enzymes. Those enzymes help with digestion and other bodily processes. Without enzymes and essential fatty acids, cells can’t properly absorb and hold the water they need. So, make sure you’re taking in the elements you need by eating mineral-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Cook with high-quality sea salt, which can deliver up to 60 trace minerals and help manage water flow in your body. And, don’t forget to include whole foods that are high in essential fatty acids, such as flax seeds and walnuts.
Myth #4: There’s no such thing as too much water.
Typically, your body flushes out any extra water it doesn’t need. But, if you’re drinking more than 12 liters of water in 24 hours or exercising heavily, it’s possible to disrupt your body’s natural balance and end up diluting too much electrolytes. The condition, known as hyponatremia, occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low. Hyponatremia is rare, but anyone can get in trouble if they drink water in excess without replacing essential minerals and electrolytes. Overconsumption of water is most likely to occur in long-distance runners, and can lead to serious complications. So, don’t force yourself to keep drinking water if you’re feeling full. And, if you’re drinking lots of water during heavy exercise, be sure to add adequate salts and electrolytes to balance it out.
Staying hydrated will help you avoid heat illnesses this summer, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat fruits and vegetables that are high in water content.
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