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It’s getting warmer, and chances are you’re taking a water bottle with you everywhere you go. You know staying hydrated is important, but it’s not always clear how much is enough. Do you really need to track how many times you refill your water bottle every day? Is your afternoon coffee decreasing your total fluid intake? Here are some answers.
Q: Do you really need to drink eight glasses of water per day?
Maybe, maybe not. This highly quoted statistic isn’t a rigid rule. A lot depends on your size, the climate where you live, and your activity level. So a large person running long distances in the heat would need more water, while a small person who was sedentary on a cool day would need less. Makes sense when you think about, doesn’t it? Despite what you may have heard, your thirst is a decent indicator of when you need to drink, so strict tracking is probably not necessary. (Two exceptions: thirst sometimes becomes blunted in elderly people and in people exercising so strenuously they lose water faster than the body can signal the need for more.)
Q: Are there other ways to hydrate besides water?
Yes! Not all your hydration needs to come from water or even other beverages. Many fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery deliver water to your body. Chalk up another advantage of eating a lot of these healthful foods!
Q: Does coffee dehydrate you?
Not exactly. Coffee, tea, and any beverage containing caffeine can act as a diuretic, which means it causes you to lose fluid from the body due to increased urination. However, the amount lost is less than what’s in the drink itself, so a caffeinated beverage still tips the balance toward more fluid in your body, just not as much as a non-caffeinated beverage.
Q: Is the color of your urine important?
Yes. In general, your urine should be a pale yellow color, closer to lemonade than apple juice, so darker urine can be an indication that you need to drink more. However, some supplements, especially multivitamins, can turn urine a fluorescent yellow color. This doesn’t mean you’re dehydrated; it means you just consumed a lot of B vitamins!
Q: Is it true your body can confuse thirst for hunger?
Probably not. We eat for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with being hungry, such as feeling bored or stressed, but mistaking thirst for hunger probably isn’t one of them. Why? Because the two sensations are different—they’re not even felt in the same part of the body.