The Quest for Hydration
Drinking fluids is essential to stay alive. But how much do we really need, and what counts in our quest to stay hydrated?
Too Much of a Good Thing
We know we need to drink fluids to maintain a healthy body, but is there such as a thing as too much?
There is a lot of information out there now about hyponatremia (low sodium levels), which is much rarer than dehydration problems, but it can still be a concern, says Kenney.
According to the ACSM web site, "While hyponatremia is a rare occurrence, it is a dangerous condition that may arise when athletes drink too much water, diluting the body's sodium levels. It is most often seen in prolonged endurance athletes, such as those participating in marathons and triathlons."
To strike a balance between too much and too little fluid intake, Kenney recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, and drinking enough to replace the amount of weight you lose. If you're gaining weight, you know you're drinking too many fluids, and if you're losing weight, you know you need to drink more.
Water Takes the Cake
So we know we need fluids, we know the eight 8-ounce rule isn't backed by science, and we know that we need to strike a balance between too much and too little intake. We also know that almost any fluid will add value to our bodies, but water takes the blue ribbon.
"The body needs water for millions of metabolic processes, temperature control, fluid volume, and lubrication," says Hall. "But many health-conscious folks drink water often because it is a calorie-free thirst quencher. Some research shows that drinking water often may help to suppress the appetite and it certainly aids in digestion."
Water, or any fluid that we drink, is something most of us take for granted. For Debbie Kiley, that's not so.
"There aren't many things I would sell my soul to the devil for, but when I was out on that raft, fresh water was one of them," says Kiley. "I do not take water for granted, that's for sure. It's one of those things in life that seems so available, but when it's not there it's a real bummer."
To say the least.