Drinking Water All Day Long May Not Be The Best Way To Stay Hydrated

Drinking Water All Day Long May Not Be The Best Way To Stay Hydrated

David Nieman, a professor of public health at Appalachian State University, says simply gulping lots of water without any food has "no virtue."

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Drinking water is the most common form of hydration used by people world over. There are several articles that list the benefits of chugging down huge amounts of water to not only avoid fatigue caused due to dehydration but also to flush out all the harmful toxins present in the body. But is drinking water the most effective way to keep one hydrated? Well, a professor of public health at Appalachian State University David Nieman suggests otherwise. Simply gulping down large quantities of water every morning, noon, and night might not be the solution to the body's hydration needs, says Nieman who is also the director of the Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus, reports TIME.


"If you’re drinking water and then, within two hours, your urine output is really high and [your urine] is clear, that means the water is not staying in well," he continued. When not accompanied by food or any form of nutrients, plain water has the tendency to slip right through the digestive system of human beings. So, if you have been drinking gallons water on an empty stomach hoping that it would do some good, you might be mistaken. "There’s no virtue to that kind of consumption," noted Nieman. You would be surprised to learn that clear urine is a sign of "overhydration," according to the Cleveland Clinic

You must have heard claims that contact consumption of water in large quantities helps rid the body of unwanted toxins, but it may not be completely true. Although urine does help remove the waste and chemical byproducts of the body, simply drinking a lot of water on an empty stomach does not improve the process of cleansing, says Nieman. There have been many studies that back up Nieman's claim- drinking lots of water is not the best way to remain hydrated. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition sought to identify "beverages that promote longer-term fluid retention and maintenance of fluid balance" through an experiment. "72 recreationally active, healthy male subjects" were chosen and given fluids, including plain water, coffee, black tea, sparkling water, orange juice, oral rehydration solution (ORS), Coca-Cola, lager beer, milk, and coffee. After analyzing the urine samples of the volunteers, researchers found that drinks like milk, orange juice, and tea were more hydrating than plain water. Lager was less hydrating than water but slightly better than coffee.

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Then again no one is suggesting that you do away with water and fill yourself with milk and other fluids. Water is still a hydrating liquid and so are other drinks like beer, sports drinks, and even coffee to some extent. However, the authors of the 2015 study explained that "there are several elements of a beverage that might affect fluid balance in the hours after ingestion: the macronutrient content, the electrolyte (primarily sodium and potassium) content, and the presence of diuretic agents (primarily caffeine and alcohol)." They continued how "ingested drinks with high energy content, whether in the form of carbohydrate, fat, protein or alcohol, will empty from the stomach more slowly than energy-free drinks and will thus potentially reduce or delay the diuresis that follows in comparison with the ingestion of a bolus of still water." Thus helping with the "retention of ingested fluids within the body water space."


So, if you're ingesting water containing more minerals and fats the body seems to retain more water, thus maintaining better levels of hydration. "People who are drinking bottles and bottles of water in between meals and with no food, they’re probably just peeing most of that out," said Nieman. Excessive consumption of water could be harmful in rare cases. "In athletes or people who are exercising for hours, if they’re only drinking water, they can throw out too much sodium in their urine, which leads to an imbalance in the body’s sodium levels," explained Nieman, who spent years of his career investigating exercise-related hydration. 

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This imbalance is called "hyponatremia" which could be deadly in some cases. He also explained how beverages with nutrients and sodium are safer to consume than plain water. Nieman suggested that sipping on beverages or water slowly prevents the overloading of the kidney and helps it retain more water. "Drinking water with amino acids or fats or vitamins or minerals helps the body take up more of the water, which is why beverages like milk and fruit juice tend to look pretty good in these hydration studies," he said adding that drinking water during or before a meal or snack is a good way to hydrate. "Water is good for you, but you can drown in it too," he warned. 

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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