Bursting Hydration Myths: The Truth Behind Breaking The Seal
If you’ve ever been on a long drive or spent a long evening at the bar, you’ve heard about breaking the seal.
The seal, as we have been led to believe, is letting us enjoy our evening or our long drive in relative peace. Though we may have the urge to go to the bathroom, we believe if we break the seal, we are supposedly opening the door to many more bathroom visits.
So, why would we hold out, when going to the bathroom is a natural, relatively easy thing to do?
(You’re making an awful lot of sense right now. Too much, in fact.)
Because in a few select situations, going to the bathroom isn’t so easy.
If we’re at a bar, there could be a long line. If we’re at a baseball game or concert, the bathroom could be in another section. And if we’re driving, you’ve got to wait for the next rest stop.
Yes, cutting down on drinking could help, but paradoxically, each of these situations rewards more beverage intake.
If you’re at a bar to have a drink with an old friend, you may end up having a second drink… for old times’ sake.
If you’re at a baseball game, that summer sun makes a second lemonade more than a nicety… it’s a necessity.
And on a long drive, you might need that extra cup of coffee to keep your focus on the road.
That’s why the idea of breaking the seal - and theoretically subjecting ourselves to more visits to the bathroom - becomes so vital.
Unfortunately, it’s all made up.
Why Breaking The Seal Isn’t Actually A Thing…
For one, there’s no seal. It’s your bladder. The one you’ve had your whole life.
But there is something physiological happening, even if there’s not an actual seal.
One relates to drinks that are diuretics, like alcohol, that cause you to want to drink more.
And if you end up drinking more than you normally would, you’ll end up going to the bathroom more than you normally would.
Let’s take an example. In an everyday setting, say an afternoon at work, how much water would you drink? A normal bottle of water is 16.9 ounces, or roughly 500ml. Are you drinking three in three hours? Maybe not. But if you drink three beers in three hours, that’s 1,500ml.
The average bladder? It holds about 300-400ml.
So if you are ending up in the bathroom more often, remember that you are also putting in a lot more than you might otherwise.
Beyond the diuretic effect, alcohol also suppresses a hormone called vasopressin that regulates how often you need to urinate (it’s the one that helps you have peaceful nights).
So you’re putting in more liquid and your body has less of a hormone telling it not to go… you end up in the bathroom.
And Why “Breaking The Seal” Is A Good Thing
Let’s rephrase that: here’s why going to the bathroom regularly is a good thing.
Though it can be inconvenient in those moments mentioned above, holding it in is even worse. It can lead to weakened bladder muscles (which leads to incontinence), UTIs, and in some cases, kidney disease.
Whether you’re trying to have a fun night out at the bar or endure a long drive, this all boils down to hydration health.
Meeting your hydration goals is as much about you’re drinking as why you might not be drinking. If you’re holding off on an extra bottle of water while you’re driving because you’re worried about breaking the seal, it might be time to reconsider.
What about you? Do you believe in breaking the seal?