Do You Drink Enough Water? Study Shows That Dehydrated Drivers Can Be Dangerous On The Road
Categories: Health & Nutrition
The Color of Your Urine Is an Important Hydration Marker
The oft-repeated guideline is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but considering the fact that your water needs can vary significantly from day to day depending on factors such as your activity level and weather conditions, this suggestion may be inadequate.
In reality, it’s virtually impossible to determine a general guideline that will apply to everyone, all the time. As noted in the video above, the Institute of Medicine recommends a much higher average water intake, suggesting women drink 2.7 liters or 91 ounces of water per day, and men 3.7 liters, or 125 ounces.
The featured study9 used urine concentration to evaluate hydration status, and looking at the color of your urine is perhaps one of the best ways to track your individual hydration status from day to day.
Concentrated, dark-colored urine is a sign that your kidneys are retaining fluids to maintain your bodily functions, and is a good indication that you need more water. Ideally, you’ll want to drink enough water to turn your urine a light-colored yellow.
Also please realize that riboflavin (vitamin B2; also found in most multi-vitamins) will turn your urine a bright, almost fluorescent yellow. So if you’re taking supplements containing B2, it may be more difficult to judge your water needs by the color of your urine.
Frequency of urination can also be used to judge your water intake. A healthy person urinates on average about seven or eight times a day. If your urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in several hours, that too is an indication that you’re not drinking enough.
Being Dehydrated May Be as Dangerous as Being Drunk When Driving
When you’re dehydrated, you’re more prone to irritability and fatigue. Your cognitive functions, including your ability to concentrate also take a hit, and this can have serious ramifications if you’re behind the wheel. According to a recent study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior,10 dehydrated drivers made twice the amount of errors during a two-hour drive compared to hydrated drivers. Remarkably, this is similar to driving drunk!
As reported by CNN:11 “Since often people purposely avoid drinking prior to a long road trip to prevent bathroom stops, dehydration could increase the risk of traffic accidents.” For these tests, hydrated drivers drank 200ml every hour, compared to dehydrated drivers who received only 25ml of water an hour. As reported by The Daily Mail:12
“During the normal hydration test, there were 47 driving errors. That number rose to 101 when the men were dehydrated - the same mistake rate as that when drivers were either sleep deprived or at the drink-drive limit. The researchers...think dehydration leads to reduced brain activity as well as a drop in alertness and short-term memory...The researchers wrote...'Body water losses have been shown to impair performance in a variety of tests of both physical and mental performance... 'The level of dehydration induced in the present study was mild and could easily be reproduced by individuals with limited access to fluid over the course of a busy working day.'”
Replacing All Other Beverages with Pure Water Is a Major Step Toward Health
It’s important to recognize that your body loses water throughout each day, even when you’re not sweating, and that you need to constantly replenish this fluid loss. While soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other beverages typically contain a fair amount of water, they are poor substitutes for pure water, and generally do not count toward this requirement.
Soda and energy drinks, for example, are high in caffeine, which acts as a diuretic that will actually dehydrate you, so they’re a terrible choice for quenching your thirst. In fact, have you noticed that you tend to get thirstier the more soda you drink? The sugar is addictive, which contributes to this phenomenon, but dehydration also plays a role.
Worse yet, sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, and other sweetened beverages typically contain processed fructose, which is a primary driver of obesity and metabolic dysfunction. Just one can of soda per day can add as much as 15 pounds to your weight over the course of a single year.
One soda per day also increases your risk of diabetes by 85 percent, and frequent soda drinkers have higher cancer risk. So to stay hydrated, drinking pure water is key. This is true when exercising as well. Many still believe that sports drinks are the best alternative to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes when working up a sweat, but that’s simply not true.