Growing up playing sports, I was really only educated on the harmful side effects of dehydration, but I never heard anything about overhydration. This is starting to change now. Recently, the news has been blowing up about this issue of drinking too much water. Scientists have tried many times to debunk the myth that is that you need 8 glasses of water or more each day to stay healthy. Water is important to our overall health, but more doesn’t exactly mean better. Even more pressing, athletes are actually dying because of overhydration. We are a society that yells, “Drink!” whenever we feel a physical ailment coming on while exercising. But rather than fixing the ailment, we are putting ourselves at risk of overhydration and the possibility of death. Maybe it’s time we all take a hard look at all of the myths surrounding water consumption.
Myth: drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
Fact: Many scientists believe that this myth took hold when a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board Recommendation suggested that a person needs about 2.5 liters of water a day. While this phrase garnered national popularity, the second half of the recommendation didn’t accompany it. What was that second half of the recommendation? This water intake doesn’t have to purely come from drinking water. Other drinks and foods such as coffee, tea, milk, fruit, and vegetables also keep our bodies hydrated. Choosing a clean diet full of wholesome foods and drinks plays a major role in the hydration question.
Myth: coffee and tea dehydrate you
Fact: There is actually no evidence that supports this claim, and believe me there have been many studies shedding light on this debate. In truth, they actually help keep you hydrated.
Myth: you are already dehydrated when you are thirsty
Fact: The amount of water you should drink is kind of like picking the right pair of running shoes for yourself. Listen to your body. Your body is great at telling you when to drink much sooner than when your body is actually dehydrated.
Myth: dehydration leads to muscle cramps and heat stroke.
Fact: Many studies have shown that hydration level does not actually play a role in an athlete’s susceptibility to cramps and heat stroke on a given day. What is actually the culprit? Physical overexertion. When you work your body too hard in a game or you are not used to the heat, your body is going to rebel against you even if you are constantly drinking water. Our habit of guzzling water may actually be doing our bodies more harm than good and can result in hyponatremia, which can be fatal. So, next time you are playing a sport and experience uncomfortable symptoms, stop yourself and think before you chug an enormous amount of liquids.
Water is necessary and a great way to sustain a healthy body and life, but there is no one size fits all for how much water you should drink. It depends on your diet, size, and physical activity. Listen to your own body!