What do you know about staying hydrated? You might not know as much as you think.
1. True or False: It’s recommended that everyone should have at least 8 glasses of water every day.
False: This common benchmark is completely arbitrary. A number of factors go into how much water a person needs, including size, gender, activity level, age, and even weather conditions. The best rule of thumb is to drink when you’re thirsty, or when temperatures or activity levels increase.
2. True or False: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
True: Well, sort of anyway. It’s not as dire as you might think, though. Thirst is triggered by a 2-4% reduction in body fluid. Unless you have kidney problems, this is well within what your body can tolerate.
The kind of dehydration most people worry about, the kind with dizziness and fatigue, isn’t triggered until you’ve lost 5-8% of your body fluids. At that point, you passed thirsty long ago. In short, under normal conditions you can trust your body to tell you what it needs.
One caveat here: you do need to be aware of changes in your conditons. If you’re living your life in the climate you’re used to, doing the things you normally do, your thirst is pretty reliable. If those conditions change, either because you’re traveling, being much more active than usual, or find yourself in weather that’s much hotter than normal, you need to stay ahead of your thirst and be conscious of your hydration.
3. True or False: Staying hydrated can prevent heat stroke.
False: Hydration is just one factor in the on-set of heat stroke, but it isn’t the only factor. No doubt, water lowers your body temperature, but that doesn’t mean it will inoculate you from ever getting heat stroke. Again, listening to your body is important here, but don’t kid yourself that because you’re drinking enough fluids you can’t get heat stroke.
4. True or False: If your urine isn’t crystal clear, you’re dehydrated.
False: If your urine is crystal clear, that indicates that you’re more than fully hydrated, since everything you drink is just running right through you. It’s your body’s way of refusing delivery of whatever fluid you’re trying to put into it. Still, this isn’t a perfect system. Over-hydration is a real thing, and it’s very dangerous, though it’s not a major risk for most people.
If your urine is a particularly dark color or has a strong odor, that can be an indicator that you’re not drinking nearly enough.
5. True or False: Drinking water after a massage helps flush out the toxins released during the massage.
False: Water isn’t a magical elixer that flushes icky negativity or imaginary “toxins”, and neither is massage. You may have heard or read some massage therapists claiming that massage flushes toxins, but there’s no persuasive science behind the claim. Regular massage can accomplish many things, but this isn’t one of them.
Drinking water, however, does help your liver function more effectively, and improves your blood’s ability to flush waste from your system.
So why does your massage therapist tell you to drink lots of water after your session? Massage can dehydrate you slightly because it moves fluids from the soft tissues to your kidneys, which is why it’s not uncommon to need to use the bathroom after a session. That water needs to be replaced.
Also, loosening up tight muscles releases metabolic waste and brings circulation back to that area. It’s a good idea to give that healing circulation a little extra boost with a cool cup of water afterwards.
The best analogy for how staying hydrated helps your body function is like oil in a car–it helps everything run smoothly, including your body’s ability to dispose of waste and distribute nutrients.
6. True or False: Drinking coffee or soda is worse than drinking nothing at all because caffeine is a diuretic and it dehydrates you.
False: Yes, caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it causes an increase in the passing of urine. But at the doses you get in even highly caffeinated coffee or soda, you’re taking on far more water than the caffeine would cause you to lose. That said, sugary drinks, while hydrating, also include large numbers of empty calories, making simple water a preferable alternative.
7. True or False: Drinking water is the only reliable way to stay hydrated.
False: Of course, water is best. But it’s not the only source of hydration. Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, contain water, and any other drink you may consume mainly consists of water, so these all factor into your hydration. Don’t count those out just because it’s not crystal clear nectar-of-the-gods flowing from a pure mountain spring.
8. True or False: Ice water is harder for your body to absorb, so cool or tepid water is the best way to hydrate.
True: Very warm or very cold water diverts your body’s heat and circulation to moderate the temperature. That said, you don’t need to be drinking body-temperature water. You want water at a temperature that will gently cool you, ideally around 50 -59 degrees, which is slightly cooler than most tap water.
So, how did you do? Did anything here surprise you? Let us know in the comments below.
As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.
At The Good Life Massage, we’re committed to helping our clients build healthy habits for the best life possible through regular therapeutic massage. Book your next massage with us today.
Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist with social media marketing and brand development by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org