Whether you like drinking water or not, it accounts for about 60% of your body weight, and plays a pretty darn important role in making sure your body functions normally. Here is where we help you separate fact from myth in regards to hydration.
Myth 1: By the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. TRUTH: Thirst is your body's way of telling you to drink. If you listen to your body, you'll know when to drink and exactly how much to drink so you're optimally hydrated, says Dr John Heiss, director of sports and fitness at global nutrition company Herbalife. "Our bodies evolved over millions of years to accurately let us know when we're thirsty," says Heiss. Heiss states that drinking according to the body's thirst indicators will do you just fine.
Myth 2: Unless your urine is clear, you're not hydrated TRUTH: Clear urine is actually a sign of overhydration which can lead to serious complications. If you are hydrated, your urine should be straw-coloured to transparent-yellow colour.
Drinking too much water can cause dangerously low blood sodium levels, also known as hyponatremia or water intoxication. Sustained, excessive intake of water, sports drinks, or other fluids – exceeding the body's ability to eliminate fluids in the form of sweat and urine – is the major risk factor for exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH).
Symptoms typically include headache, vomiting, confusion and seizures, resulting from swelling of the brain (cerebral edema). Without immediate treatment, severe hyponatremia can be fatal.
Myth 3: Stay hydrated to prevent heat stroke TRUTH: Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition where your body temperature rises above 40°C. Dehydration simply makes you more prone to it. "People who are dehydrated are hotter," says Casa. In fact, in a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training, Casa determined that for every one percent of body mass lost through sweat, your body temperature increases by half a degree, "which makes hydration hugely important for preventing heat stroke," he says. However, there are several other factors that play a role; body size, exercise intensity, fitness level, and age as well as humidity and air temperature can affect who does or doesn't develop heat stroke. Staying hydrated is a good call and can reduce your risk, but paying attention to the whole picture is a better predictor.
Myth 4: Sports drinks are healthy TRUTH: NO. Unless you do sports, you do not need a sports drink. A sports drink contains the same amount of sugar as a soft drink. Studies have also shown a link between consumption of sports drinks and irreversible damage to the teeth – the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, the glossy outer layer of the tooth. So, drink with purpose and in moderation.