We have tested thousands of people on their hydration status and guess what we have found….less than 1% of the people we’ve tested are sufficiently hydrated! Less than one percent!!! Part of the reason for this is that there are a LOT of myths out there regarding hydration – here are many of the most common – BEWARE, being hydrated is probably the most important thing you can do to positively influence your health; luckily, it’s also one of the easiest, as long as you do it right…
State of (De)Hydration
According to a survey of over 3000 people in 15 major US cities, the average person reported drinking about four 8-oz. servings of water per day. This is about half of what is recommended by the USDA, and is far less than what is necessary to keep the body hydrated. Even more shocking was that 44% of those surveyed said they drank less than three 8-oz. servings of water per day and nearly 10% said they didn’t drink any water at all.
Optimal hydration is critically important for overall health, especially since almost every biological reaction that occurs within within your body depends on water. One of the reasons we are in this constant state of dehydration is misinformation. Here are some of the biggest culprits:
- “If my urine is clear, I am hydrated well.” This is patently false. If your urine is clear, it simply means that you drank more water than your body could absorb (and/or utilize) and it is flushing it out. It has no bearing on your hydration status.
- “I’m not thirsty, so I must not need water.” or “Thirst response is a reliable indicator of when I need to drink water.” Even though we’d like to believe this is true, it is not. Research shows that the thirst response is NOT a reliable gauge of hydration or a person’s need for water. In fact, research has shown that the thirst response will decrease if ignored over time and that the thirst response is often mistaken for hunger. Once more, the thirst response decreases with age.
- “If I drink a lot of water at once, I am getting rehydrated.” This would be nice, but it’s not correct. Your body’s cells can only absorb so much water at once, no matter how much water you drink. While exceeding that capacity isn’t harmful, you will be making more trips to the bathroom and you won’t be any better hydrated.
- “I drink plenty of other liquids during the day – including milk, black tea, coffee, soda and alcohol – that all counts as water.” FALSE – in fact tea (caffeinated), coffee, alcohol, soda and caloric beverages are NOT substitutes for water; many are actually diuretics, which means they make you MORE dehydrated when you consume them.
- “Dehydration isn’t that big of a deal.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if you lose just 2.5% of your body weight from water loss, you will lose 25% of your mental and physical abilities. That means if a 100 pound person loses just 2.5 pounds or a 200 pound person loses 5 pounds of water (which can easily be done in a 1 hour workout or a day of yardwork), you will already be operating at 75% maximum capacity! That is a VERY BIG DEAL!
So How Much Water Do You Need?
The average person should consume about one-half their body weight in ounces of water throughout the day. For example, a 150 lb. person should consume about 75 ounces of water daily. However, the total amount is only half the story. The real key is drinking less water more often throughout the day. Remember, your body’s cells can only absorb a certain amount of water in a given amount of time. Under normal circumstances, that equates to about 4-6 ounces of water every 20-30 minutes. Drinking more than that just means more trips to the bathroom; while this isn’t harmful, it can be deceiving as you are really only getting 4-6 ounces of water absorbed every 20-30 minutes regardless of how much you drink.
- Report from Nutrition Information Center at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, May 11, 1998.
- Table: Cornell University Medical Center, Nutrition Information Center. Survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners. Underwritten by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). Reported in Alternative Medicine Magazine. June 3, 2000.