Can you drink Too Much Water?
Did you think drinking too much water was even possible?
That’s not surprising in a world that tells us water is king. But did you know that the whole “8 glasses a day” thing is a myth? And did you know that you can be drinking too much water AND doing some major damage if you drink too much?
When I design my healthy eating and exercise plans for my clients I always advocate drinking 2-3 litres of water a day, but that obviously depends on the person’s size and how much exercise they do.
- Do you carry around a water bottle to drink throughout the day?
- Do you pee frequently, including during the night?
- Is your pee clear as the day is long?
- Do you think that’s a good thing?
But obviously, water is good. It’s essential, even. So please don’t take this as a “water is bad” post. Water is good… if it’s in the right amount. And it can be bad if it’s not. Rapid intake of too much water floods the inside of cells when sodium is depleted. This sodium depletion, called hypernatremia, can rupture the cells, either from extra pressure on the cells from without, or from pressure within flooded cells. As cells rupture in various parts of the body, certain symptoms emerge, and usually quickly.
So what are the symptoms? Well, things like vomiting, headaches, confusion and disorientation. If things progress this can lead to more serious things like seizures and coma. Death. Of course, these are extreme situations of water intoxication. Generally speaking, we hit the danger zone when we drink too much water and take in more than what our kidneys can process in an hour. And for someone with extremely healthy kidneys that is about 30 oz. of water in an hour (please don’t drink that much!). Drinking too much water in rapid succession can prove fatal and should definitely be avoided.
Like most health-conscious folks I was diligent with my water intake. I carried a water bottle with me almost everywhere. I always had a tall glass next to me as I worked at the computer.
Drinking too much water can lead to:
- Decreased metabolism
- Decreased mental clarity
- Cold hands/feet
- Decreased emotional well being
So how much water should you drink? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. So many factors affect our needs from what we eat to the weather. Obviously, there are times when more water is appropriate, like after/before intense exercise or if you are in extreme heat. In other words: If your body is losing water (like sweating), then replenishing those fluids is essential. But unless you are an extreme athlete or spend a lot of time in a hot climate you probably need less than what you’ve been previously told.
The problem with over-hydration is that a symptom of drinking too much is dry mouth and excessive thirst. So there may be a period of “challenging your body’s signals” while it gets back to a more balanced state.
So my top tips this week are:
- Water is good for you, but not too much
- It depends on your lifestyle and how much you exercise
- It also depends on how much caffeine and alcohol you consume. These dehydrate you.
- If you have any of the above symptoms you may be drinking too much water
For more information on my healthy eating and exercise plans, contact me at nonevans.com