Everyone knows you should drink water. Made2Move Doctor Hannah knows - I mean have you seen the size of her water bottle? Water is vital for digestion, athletic performance, and many other bodily functions. The brain, muscles, and lungs can be up to 80% water. Thus, water has incredible power to positively influence athletic performance and decrease mental fog. Feeling mentally foggy or like you are hitting an afternoon slump? Try taking a few sips of water and see if it gives you a boost.
However, the health industry has created a lot of confusion on the amount of water we need, the reliability of thirst, and other hydration factors. Today we will delve into some of the myths surrounding H2O and hydration.
Myth: You need to drink 8 glasses of water per day.
People are commonly told to “drink more water” as the solution for overall health and that 8 glasses a day is what everyone should drink. Drinking water is definitely a valid recommendation, as roughly 60% of our bodies are water. We literally “are” water. But is there evidence to back up this number of 8 glasses a day? It is unknown where exactly this “8 x 8 oz. rule” originated, and studies have found no evidence to suggest that 8 glasses of water per day is required for health. While water is obviously important to stay hydrated, there is actually no definitive amount we need to consume. Just like exercise and food, the amount of water you need is highly individualized and variable.
The reality is that the amount of water needed is dependent on many factors that relate to your overall output of water. This output includes sweat, urine, and breastfeeding. Those who are sweating more due to living or exercising in hot environments or those with high activity levels will likely need more water. So, this means that 5 cups of water per day may be optimal for someone who lives in a cold environment and works out minimally, while 15 cups may be necessary for an endurance runner in the peak of the summer.
Myth: Thirst is not a reliable indicator of hydration status.
Many people are told “it’s too late” if you are already thirsty, meaning you are dehydrated. This is false. Your body is pretty good at letting you know when it needs something and when things are out of balance. However, as you age the ability of the body to tell you when you are thirsty diminishes. This, among other factors like medications and a lower overall water content in the body increases the elderly’s risk for dehydration.