Do you really need 8 glasses of water daily, to stay hydrated? Or is a sports drink a better bet? Read on to figure out what the truth about hydration really is. 

One of the biggest health hazards of the summer heat is dehydration. The best way to guard against this risk, is to drink a few litres of water daily. Water helps protect you from other factors that lead to dehydration, too.

Many causes of dehydration

Believe it or not, a low carb diet can leach water from your body!  That’s because carbohydrates are stored in your body along with fluids, and eating too few, can plunge your hydration levels. Diabetics also risk dehydration, since a high sugar level leads to excessive urination, and water loss.

Child feel thirsty in pink suit isolated on white. Girl with bottle of drinking water. Health and healthy drink. Dehydration thirst concept. Fluid balance hydration copy space

Other reasons for dehydration are hormone fluctuation at the time of menstruation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and even stress. Here we overturn some myths about hydration to help you avoid this, and understand the best way to stay hydrated:

Myth 1: Drink eight glasses of water a day
Eight glasses of water is the general recommendation, though this varies based on individual requirements. For example, a long distance runner will clearly need more than a housewife. So you’re best off determining your own level of thirst, and how many glasses of water you need to function optimally.

A number of factors affect hydration and the level of water in the body, such as climate, level of physical activity, age, and physical condition. So don’t worry about sticking to a number. Listen to your body to keep it hydrated.

Myth 2: You need a sports drink to hydrate post exercise
If your workout lasts for an hour or less, then plain water fulfills the purpose of hydration. A medium intensity workout  doesn’t lead to a loss of electrolytes or glycogen, in this short period. However, if you workout continuously for more than 60 mins, then you probably need a sports drink to keep your electrolyte and carbohydrate levels normal.

Myth 3: When you feel thirsty, you are already dangerously dehydrated
Thirst is the first sign of dehydration given out by the body, which may just signal a decrease of water by 1% in the body. According to Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, “When you get thirsty, the deficit of water in your body may be trivial. All you need is to drink a liquid.”

Myth 4: You can never drink too much water
Too much of anything has an adverse impact, including water. Research shows that drinking too much water can cause ’hypernatremia’, a condition in which the sodium content of the body gets so diluted that the cells begin to swell.

This may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, and even lead to seizures or coma in extreme cases. But remember, it takes many gallons of water to cause water-intoxication.

Myth 5: Caffeine can lead to dehydration
Coffee lovers shouldn’t fret. While caffeine by itself can dehydrate you, the water in coffee compensates for this effect. Caffeine may lead to dehydration only if you drink more than 3 to 5 cups a day, that is, more than 500 mg of caffeine. To make up for water loss, just drink an extra glass a day!