Busting the 8 cups of water myth

While the average fluid lost from our bodies does turn out to be around 8 cups a day, you do not need to replace all of it with plain old water.

Water3While the average fluid lost from our bodies does turn out to be around 8 cups a day, you do not need to replace all of it with plain old water.Staying hydrated is critical, especially in hotter weather, but do we really have to drink 8 cups of water a day to stay hydrated?

University of Alabama at Birmingham nutritionist Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., RDN, tells why this is a myth.

Kitchin, an assistant professor with the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences, says there are many ways for you to get the daily amount of fluids needed.

“For some people who absolutely love water and drink their 8 cups a day, that’s fine,” Kitchin said. “But for people like me who do not like the taste of plain water, you can drink milk or juice because they are mostly water.”

What about coffee and tea?

“The good news is that, even though coffee and tea have caffeine, you still can get some of your daily water intake from these beverages,” Kitchin said. “If you drink these kinds of caffeinated drinks, your body kind of adapts and you don’t necessarily lose all these extra fluids.”

She adds that some studies have even shown that it only takes three days of caffeine drinking for your body to adapt.

And sodas?

“Sodas do provide some form of hydration,” Kitchin said. “I am not advocating that you drink a whole lot of sodas to rehydrate, but I am saying that if you do drink them you’re actually getting some fluid replacement.”

Kitchin says fruits and vegetables can also provide significant hydration.

“Many fruits and vegetables are 80 percent water by weight,” she said. “You can actually replenish up to a third of your water loss a day by eating fruits and veggies.”

Of course, there are other types of water you can buy.

“One of the things I like to do is drink what I like to call fizzy water,” Kitchin said. “I like to mix it with juice to make a healthier fruit soda.”

Water4Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., RDNAm I hydrated enough?

Kitchin says thirst is a pretty good indicator that most people need hydration, except if you are older.

“As we get into our older years, thirst is not as accurate,” she said.

But, the most accurate way to check if you need to hydrate is your urine. Kitchin says, if urine is dilute, pale yellow or clear, chances are that you are hydrated. However, if urine is darker in color or cloudy, more hydration is required.


“Most of us do need more water at this time of the year; but surprisingly, you can drink too much and overhydrate,” Kitchin said. “When people drink too much water, it dilutes the sodium in the blood to a level that is too low.”

Some of the symptoms of low blood sodium, or hyponatremia, are the same as dehydration — nausea, vomiting, headaches, convulsions, brain swelling — and can even cause death.

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