“Soda dehydrates you.”
I can’t count how many times I have heard someone say this. Whether it is drinking a soda before an athletic event or having one in the middle of a hot summer day, people love to point out this fact — or what they think is a fact.
Before I go any further, let me clarify something. I’m not here to tell people they should drink soda instead of water. In fact, water is always going to be the best option, because soda is loaded with sugar and other harmful ingredients over the long haul.
However, it certainly doesn’t dehydrate you.
The definition of dehydrate, according to Dictionary.com, is “to cause (a person or a person’s body) to lose a large amount of water.” In this state, your body is losing more fluid than it’s taking in, and it can be very dangerous, especially for children or older adults.
The Mayo Clinic lists vomiting, diarrhea, fever, excessive sweating and increased urination as causes of dehydration. Soda ain’t on the list.
Science is great and all, but I prefer personal experience when it’s available. Fortunately — well, probably unfortunately — for me, I had many soda binges as a teenager. I remember a particular three-day stretch where the only thing I drank was Mountain Dew.
Again, I am not arguing this was a healthy decision by any stretch of the imagination. Regardless, if soda actually dehydrated us, I would have been on my death bed a long time ago.
The better argument for the ill-informed soda haters should be that soda isn’t the best hydration option, with which I would agree with. Water has no calories, it’s safe and it’s essentially free. Sports drinks are a great option for people who are sweating more than the average person.
Soda shouldn’t be the first option for someone who needs hydration. If it’s the only option around, it can work. The myth of soda being dehydrating is more-or-less claiming that if you’re in the desert, you’d be better off drinking nothing rather than drinking a soda. That’s patently false and absurd.
If you drink a can of soda, your body is not going to retain as much of it as if you drank 12 ounces of water, but your body is not going to lose fluid either. You are still hydrating yourself, just not as well as you could be.
So, if you ever happen to be stranded in the desert with a can of soda nearby and you remember someone telling you that it dehydrates you, forget it. You would be remiss to not drink it.
At the end of the day, choose water as your primary drink. You’ll be healthier and likely feel better. But don’t listen to the myth of soda as a dehydrator, because it’s just that … a myth.