Make no mistake about it, if you believe in certain myths about your thirst, you are putting yourself in harm’s way. As you know, if you go for a long period of time without enough water, not only would you be thirsty, but a lot of your mental processes, emotional states, and physical well-being, would be thrown off track. You can only go on for so long without water until it takes a toll on your social skills, your social interaction, as well as your physical health.
Now, most people can go on without drinking water for three days to three weeks. But like it or not, the more they go without water, the more their basic bodily functions start to degrade. Of course, when people get thirsty, they think that they just need to reach out for a glass of cold water to take care of the problem. Unfortunately, this type of behavior is a product of all the myths people believe about thirst.
You need to debunk these common myths about thirst so you can hydrate properly. These myths get in the way of proper hydration and can lead to all sorts of health problems.
Myth #1 You’re only thirsty when you feel thirsty
One of the most common myths about thirst is that there is a distinct thirst signal that we should all look out for. Unless we get a clear signal from our body that we’re thirsty, we then rush out to get a drink. We tend to define thirst signals more narrowly as we get older. This should not be a surprise because as we get older, we get busier. We’re all caught up in our jobs; we’re all caught up in our duties and obligations, and we really try to give ourselves as many reasons and excuses as we can not to get that cold glass of water that we desperately need.
Accordingly, in our minds, we define thirst in very stark terms. Your throat has to be partly dry, you really have to be very thirsty, and on and on it goes. If you don’t want to define yourself out of thirst, it has nothing to do with your feelings and has everything to do with maintaining your body’s optimal physical health. Keep it at that level, don’t think that you have to feel thirsty for you to be thirsty. The moment you feel that you could use a glass of water, get yourself a glass. Quench that thirst the first opportunity you get.
Myth #2 People clearly recognize their own thirst
As mentioned above, as people get older, they tend to have very different definitions of what thirst really means. Well, when we were kids, anytime we feel parched or a little bit dry, we head straight to the fridge. There’s no question about it. We drop whatever we’re doing, and we just get that glass of water, soft drink, or whatever beverage we prefer.
As we get older, we tend to put this impulse aside. We give ourselves all sorts of impossible demands as to what really constitutes thirst. We keep defining thirst in a very personal way, to the extent that we go on for the majority of our day completely thirsty. The worst part of all, we’re mostly clueless to it because we’ve kind of defined our thirst well beyond the physical signals that we’re obviously feeling.
Myth #3 You can drink water heavily with meals to offset thirst
One of the most dangerous myths about thirst is that it’s something that can be scheduled and offset throughout the day. What this means is when you should have drunk three glasses of water by a certain point during the day, you would try to compensate by drinking all three glasses of water all at once.
As you can well imagine, your body doesn’t work that way. Your body actually requires hydration on a fairly consistent basis throughout the day. Now, there’s some variation to this depending on how physically active you are. However, for the most part, everybody requires an even intake of water throughout the day. Accordingly, when people sit down to eat a meal, they often drink a lot of water. This pushes them to eat more salty foods; this also can throw off the chemical balance of the body, as well as play around with our hunger signals.
The best strategy would be to get a drink of water at the moment you detect thirst.
Myth #4 Any drink takes care of your thirst
Another common and potentially dangerous myth regarding water and thirst is the idea that if you’re feeling thirsty, any kind of liquid would do. That’s right, if you’re feeling thirsty, you can drink coffee, tea, soft drinks or even alcoholic beverages. According to this mindset, liquids are created equal. This is absolutely wrong. In fact, if you are feeling thirsty right now, and you pour yourself a cold glass of soda, chances are quite good that you will be thirsty again sooner rather than later. Why?
You need to read the label on the can. There are certain compounds in the typical soda formulation that actually makes you thirstier throughout the day. In fact, classic formulations of sodas were intentionally designed to mask thirst. When you drink them, you’re actually thirstier, but there’s so much sugar in them that the sugar tricks you into thinking that you’re taking care of your thirst. Soon enough, you buy another can, then another and so on and so forth. Make no mistake about it, soda companies are in business to sell as many units as possible. Quenching your thirst is a secondary objective of theirs.
Myth #5 You can safely afford to go thirsty than hungry
Another common myth people believe is, with everything else being equal, it’s better to be thirsty than hungry. I’m telling you, this is this can be a fatal mistake. According to some estimates, human beings can actually survive weeks, if not months without food. However, without water, optimally you can only survive and survive three days, and after that, there will be a very negative impact on your health. You’ll still be alive, but your blood composition starts to change, and your body becomes subject to a tremendous amount of pressure.
You eventually reach a point where you where you run the risk of organ failure. That’s how bad the thirst can be. So never prioritize hunger over thirst. Find water, take care of that thirst; that should be your first priority.
Myth #6 Drinks are the only way to hydrate
While it’s easy to take care of your thirst by drinking a beverage, understand that any food item or any semi-solid food item that has a lot of water can be a handy stand-in or replacement for liquid beverages. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t get access to plain water or a drink, go for second best; eat fruit or vegetables that have a high water content.
In fact, when the Polynesians were colonizing Hawaii, the main way they were able to drink enough water on that long trip was to catch fish and eat the fish raw. Fish tissue is very heavy in the water, and when eaten as sashimi or raw slices, a lot of the water is preserved. If you’re suffering from a tremendous amount of thirst, and you need to hydrate quickly, think outside the box. Understand that as long as a substance has a tremendous amount of water content, it’s fair game. Of course, you have to do this hygienically. You don’t want to subject yourself to the risk of bacterial infection.