According to Harvard Medical School, our bodies need an optimal level of liquids in order for our kidneys to adequately process waste, our temperature to stay regulated, and for our cells to function normally. But even though all people need to hydrate, the manner in which some people choose to do so varies. Although some people believe you should drink eight glasses of water a day, others claim swapping traditional H2O for other beverages like sports drinks is a more effective way to maintain the body’s fluid levels.
It turns out some of these common beliefs about what’s best for keeping the body hydrated aren’t actually true.
Below is a list of some practices that you might think are helping your body’s hydration levels but actually aren’t doing much at all.
Drinking beverages that taste refreshing aren’t necessarily hydrating you.
It turns out thirst isn’t actually the best way to assess how hydrated you are. Brian Palmer, a science writer for Slate explained that people tend to crave drinks like lemonade and soda when the weather is hot because consuming them has an instantly recognisable physical effect. He cited research from Japan in the 1960’s that stated the acidity level in these beverages stimulates saliva production, which gives our mouth the feeling that our thirst is quenched. Further evidence presented by a study in The American Journal of Physiology suggests that drinking soft drinks can actually worsen dehydration.This is because the sugars and caffeine contained in these drinks place additional stress on the bloodstream and kidney function.
So next time you’re that refreshing, cold soda, try adding some fruit to sparkling water instead. It can provide the same thirst-quenching sensation while hydrating you much more efficiently than a soft drink.
Chugging large quantities of water isn’t hydrating you any more than if you sip it slowly.
It can seem like you’re being proactive by gulping down a large amount of water before beginning some extraneous exercise.
But Dr. Leonard Smith, a surgeon and medical advisor for the University of Miami’s Department of Integrative Medicine, told Mel magazine last year that drinking a lot of water at once is a big mistake when it comes to hydrating. The main problem is when the body takes in too much liquid at once, it causes the blood to dilute and the kidneys to process liquids much faster. When this happens your body ends up urinating much sooner than it needs to, and all that extra water you drank goes to waste. In fact, drinking too much water at once can even be dangerous because it can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, which is a severe sodium deficiency caused by excessive amounts of water in the body. The solution? Drink water, yes. But drink smaller amounts of it throughout the day – ideally, before you get to the point where you’re so thirsty you feel like you need to chug an entire litre of it.
Swapping your regular water for sports drinks isn’t necessary unless you’re working out all the time.
A common belief is that sports drinks hydrate you better than regular water. Many of us have seen advertisements featuring our favourite athletes dousing themselves with sports drinks as if they contain liquid powers that will charge them into some kind of superhumans. In some ways, these drinks do have special qualities to them because of their electrolyte content. But to say they are more hydrating than water because of this doesn’t make sense. This is because electrolytes in sports drinks themselves do not hydrate you. Instead, they help your body regulate the amount of water it contains. And interestingly enough research from Canada in 2014 found that milk was more effective at hydrating people than sports drinks.This is likely because the main purpose of sports drinks is to replenish the body’s electrolytes that are lost through sweating. As noted above it can be harmful when your body’s sodium levels get too low. But the ingredient in your Gatorade that actually hydrates you is actually just regular water.So if you’re not sweating as much as Serena Williams or Lebron James on a regular basis, the extra benefits that come with these sports drinks’ for hydration purposes aren’t really necessary. Most people simply aren’t losing that many electrolytes on a regular basis, and according to Healthline, the sugars in sports drinks can cause more harm than good for those who don’t need them.
Opting for a bottle of alkaline H2O won’t enhance the benefits of drinking regular water.
Some people believe the higher pH in alkaline water helps the body achieve what some believe to be the ideal acidity level. Fans of this fancy sounding water claim that it makes them feel more hydrated than the regular stuff.
But the only evidence presenting its positive effects – including its supposed extra hydrating abilities – are purely anecdotal.
Earlier this year the New York Times interviewed Dr. Tanis Fenton, a registered dietitian and epidemiologist at Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, who commented on the validity of the claims surrounding this pH altered drink. She stated no scientific studies have demonstrated paying the extra price tag for alkaline water lives up to any of its hype. So while it’s certainly not causing any problems, it’s fair to say it’s not going to make much of a difference in your hydration whether you drink this or the stuff from the tap.
Despite marketing claims that say otherwise, drinking coconut water won’t have a miracle effect on your body’s hydration levels.
Coconut water is probably the most-recognised trendy beverage of the past decade.
Over the years celebrities, influencers, and health gurus have sworn the drink is superior to water by providing extra hydrating benefits through the electrolytes and potassium it contains. Although coconut water may contain these nutrients, chances are the drink isn’t giving your body all the benefits you think it is.
A 2017 study published by the National Institute of Health found that coconut water didn’t have any greater positive effects on hydration levels than regular H2O did.
Of course, it’s still totally fine to drink if you’re thirsty and like the taste, but know it isn’t totally necessary for your health.
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