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Eight Common Hydration Myths Debunked

Is it true that you need to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated? Or that coconut water hydrates better than regular water? When it comes to hydration, a lot of misinformed advice continues to gain traction simply because it keeps getting repeated. But that doesn’t make it true. This Washington Post article outlines some common hydration myths and the truth behind them:

1.  Everyone needs eight glasses of water a day. You might need that…or more…or less. The fact is: water needs are highly individualistic. A lot depends on the climate where you live and your activity level. One estimate, from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, is that on average men need 13 cups of fluid and women need nine, but that doesn’t have to all be water.

2.  Food doesn’t count. Actually, it does. Typically, we get 20% of the water we need from food, mainly fruits and vegetables. Especially hydrating fruits and vegetables include berries, citrus fruits, peaches, pineapple, plums, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, and carrots.

3.  Tea and coffee don’t count. This myth comes from the fact that these beverages contain caffeine, and caffeine can act as a diuretic, removing water from the body. However, the net effect is still to add liquid to your system. If you are looking to maximize hydration, stick to non-caffeinated options. But if you love your caffeine, you’ll be glad to know that a cup of coffee or tea can still help.

4.  Coconut water hydrates more than water. Nothing hydrates more than plain water. That’s what hydration means: supplying water to your body. Coconut water hydrates, too, just not more than water.

5.  You need sports drinks to hydrate. Chances are you don’t, unless you are exercising at a high intensity for more than an hour. Sports drinks can replace lost electrolytes (as can coconut water), but for a regular workout or sports practice, all you need to replace is water. Plus, sports drinks are often full of sugar and artificial coloring — and no one needs that!

6.  You need to drink before you are thirsty. For most people, this isn’t true. Your thirst is a pretty reliable measure of whether or not you need to drink. However, there are some exceptions. With age, some people don’t feel thirst as keenly, which can leave the elderly subject to dehydration. Also, people performing strenuous exercise in extreme heat may need to drink before they’re thirsty because they are losing water too fast for their thirst to register.

7.  Drinking gallons of water will help your complexion. Staying hydrated is important for skin health, but once you’ve had what you need, more won’t help. Consuming enough healthy fats from fish and nuts is the next step for a healthy glow.

8.  Water adds weight. Some athletes, in a dangerous attempt to get into a lower weight class, will deliberately dehydrate themselves. It might work in the short term, but over time, staying hydrated can actually help you lose weight. Partly, it’s satiety. You feel less hungry if you’ve had your fill of water and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Of course, this only works if you’re not drinking high-calorie beverages like soda or other sweetened drinks. There’s also intriguing evidence that your cells actually burn more calories when they are sufficiently hydrated.

How do you stay hydrated? Share with us in the comments below!

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