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Common Myths About Dehydration

Kulbhushaan Raghuvanshi
Almost everyone has heard, and believes, that the body needs almost 8 glasses of water daily to avoid dehydration. However, there have been instances where many of us have consumed less than that, and not felt dehydrated. How is that possible?


Thirst is the most common symptom of dehydration.
Almost every health-conscious person has heard, and takes, the 'Drinking 8 Glasses of Water Everyday' rule very seriously. Most of us also believe that not drinking the required amount can lead to dehydration.
Also, juices and other water-based drinks can't act as alternatives. 8 glasses of pure water, period. I just have one question. Does everyone need to drink 8 glasses of water? And what happens to those who don't?
Heinz Valtin, a retired professor of physiology from Dartmouth Medical School who has spent almost four decades studying the biological system that keeps water in our bodies balanced, has a different take on this theory.
He does believe that people suffering from certain kidney ailments need to consume sufficient amounts of water, but healthy individuals do not require large quantities of water. In 2008, Dr. Dan Negoianu and Dr. Stanley Goldfarb of the Renal, Electrolyte, and Hypertension Division at the University of Pennsylvania reached a similar conclusion.
That suggested that there was no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water.

So how much water should be consumed in 24 hours? And now that the summer is here, would drinking more water affect the body? Let's learn some dehydration myths, and try to understand the facts behind them.
Myth: Drink Eight Glasses of Water Everyday
Probably the most popular myth associated with dehydration.
Many health experts believe that major bottle companies came up with this rule to boost their sales. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) set the water consumption limit to roughly 3.7 liters for men, and 2.7 liters for women. However, these figures actually refer to the total intake of water in 24 hours.
This means considering beverages and foods that contain water as well. Most people don't realize that they are consuming a considerable amount of water through foods and other liquids, and hence consuming 8 glasses of water daily is not necessary.
Myth: Being Thirsty Means You Are Already Dehydrated
This myth totally depends on how you define dehydration.
Dehydration symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramp, low blood pressure, and in severe instances, loss of consciousness and kidney failure. Taking long intervals between drinking water might dry up the throat a little, but there is no risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated.
The body first realizes the thirst sensation when the blood is thickened by 2%. This is mild dehydration that occurs on a regular basis, and it can only become a serious threat when the thickness of the blood crosses 5%. So your body will surely feel less energetic if you consume less water, but that isn't enough to be called dehydration.
Myth: Hydration Means Drinking Only Water
Water is not enough for the body to remain hydrated throughout the day. Even after drinking 8 glasses of water, it is possible to stay dehydrated on a cellular level. The body requires various minerals, electrolytes, and fatty acids to help water hydrate various tissues and cells. Water consumed from various sources is absorbed in the bloodstream.
And is then mixed with the fluids surrounding the cells. This is important, but the water still needs to get inside the cells for optimum hydration. However, the cells ability of absorbing water diminishes as you age, and hence, the body requires different minerals and electrolytes to help in the proper absorption of water.
Myth: Coffee Dehydrates the System
Another over-glamorized myth. Coffee and caffeine-related drinks do cause dehydration, but only if consumed in excess.
While caffeine does dehydrate the system, it also acts as a mild diuresis and the water used in making the coffee makes up for the loss. Hence, an occasional mug of coffee is equivalent to almost 2 to 3 cups of water. So if you are consuming moderate amounts of coffee on a daily basis, the body does get the necessary amount of fluids it gets from water.
Myth: Clear Urine Means Good Health
The yellow color of urine indicates the amount of solid particles.
Such as nitrogen, sodium chloride, potassium, expelled from the body & the color depends on the quantity of water mixed with solids by the kidneys. Dark yellow means less water & light yellow means more water. Colorless urine indicates that the kidneys are unable to filter the excess liquids passing through them, and is also diluting minerals in excess.
Also keep in mind that certain foods which are rich in vitamin B2 can change urine color, so don't be alarmed.

Myth: Dehydration Is Rare

At present, low-grade dehydration is a widespread problem that drastically affects the total well-being of a person. Shortage of water in the body inhibits the production of digestive juices and gives rise to various digestive issues such as gas, loss of appetite, bloating, and poor digestion. Try including more water and liquids in your diet and you might see a positive difference in your health immediately.
If you are prone to dehydration and other related illnesses, it surely makes sense to increase the body's fluid intake. For others, we can surely ignore the eight glass rule and go back to drinking water whenever we feel thirsty.