You could be forgiven that thinking that drinking a gallon of water is the cure to all health ills – from dull skin to headaches to insomnia. Healthy skin, hair and nails are indeed dependent on proper fluid intake, not to mention the cardiovascular system. But getting your daily dose of hydration might be a little less onerous than you think.
Let’s bust a few myths…
1. You need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
The “8×8” recommendation is not based on science. Factors like the weather and exercise strongly influence hydration needs, so a universal guideline is imprecise at best.
2. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
The hypothalamus in the brain monitors blood volume, pressure and sodium levels. Thirst is how the brain regulates those factors. Generally, the thirst mechanism is spot-on. You may get thirsty in response to eating something salty, and that doesn’t mean you’re dehydrated. Thirst and dehydration are not the same thing.
Age can weaken the thirst response, as well as certain medications, but it’s the best guide we have to knowing what our bodies need. (So listen to it.)
3. You can only get hydrated from water.
Au contraire, friends — about 20 percent of your water intake comes from foods. Vegetables like cucumbers, radishes and spinach and fruits like watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe are all more than 90 percent water and packed with vitamins and minerals. That H2O counts just as much as the kind from the tap.
4. Caffeinated drinks dehydrate you.
No health expert is going to encourage you to drink more caffeine, but it’s not true that coffee and soda will dehydrate you. Drinks with caffeine are diuretics, which means they’ll make you urinate more, but they still contribute to your hydration.
Staying hydrated is critical for your energy levels as well as your appearance, but don’t feel bad about not swapping a cup of coffee for water. Trust your body. According to the science available, the sensation of thirst is a reliable indicator of when you’re in need of fluid. And, if you’d rather pick up a tomato or iceberg lettuce than a water bottle, your skin and body will relish the hydration just as much.