There are many tragic news stories about women who have died of brain swelling from water intoxication. Some women believe in ‘the more water you drank, the more weight you would lose’ diet. But truth is, There is such a thing as water intoxication or water poisoning and it occurs when one has too much water, usually within a short span of time.
These tragic stories highlight the importance of understanding why drinking too much water can be dangerous to your health.
Whenever you disregard your sense of thirst and strive to ingest several glasses of water a day just because you have been told that doing so is good for your health, you actually put unnecessary strain on your body in two major ways:
- Ingesting more water than you need can increase your total blood volume. And since your blood volume exists within a closed system – your circulatory system – needlessly increasing your blood volume on a regular basis puts unnecessary burden on your heart and blood vessels.
- Your kidneys must work overtime to filter excess water out of your circulatory system. Your kidneys are not the equivalent of a pair of plumbing pipes whereby the more water you flush through your kidneys, the cleaner they become; rather, the filtration system that exists in your kidneys is composed in part by a series of specialized capillary beds called glomeruli. Your glomeruli can get damaged by unnecessary wear and tear over time, and drowning your system with large amounts of water is one of many potential causes of said damage.
Putting unnecessary burden on your cardiovascular system and your kidneys by ingesting unnecessary water is a subtle process. For the average person, it is virtually impossible to know that this burden exists, as there are usually no obvious symptoms on a moment-to-moment basis. But make no mistake about it: this burden is real and can hurt your health over the long term.
So how much water should you drink to best support your health?
The answer to this question depends on your unique circumstances, including your diet, exercise habits, and environment.
If you eat plenty of foods that are naturally rich in water, such as vegetables, fruits, and cooked legumes and whole grains, you may not need to drink much water at all. If you do not use much or any salt and other seasonings, your need for drinking water goes down even further.
Conversely, if you do not eat a lot of plant foods and/or you add substantial salt and spices to your meals, you may need to drink several glasses of water every day.
Regardless of what your diet looks like, if you sweat on a regular basis because of exercise or a warm climate, you will need to supply your body with more water (through food and/or liquids) than someone who does not sweat regularly.
Some people suggest observing the color of your urine as a way of looking out for dehydration. The idea is that clear urine indicates that you are well hydrated, while yellow urine indicates that you need more water in your system. While this advice is somewhat useful, it is important to remember that some food additives (including some synthetic nutrients) and heavily pigmented foods (like red beets) can add substantial color to your urine. Thumbs down for synthetic nutrients, and thumbs up for red beets and other richly colored vegetables and fruits.
The main idea is to beware of mindlessly drinking several glasses of water per day without considering your diet, exercise habits, climate, and sense of thirst. And when you do find yourself in need of water, remember that you can get it from liquids and/or whole foods.
Please share this with family and friends, as many people are regularly misinformed on this topic by mainstream media. I for one was misinformed, I even posted about (Stop Hunger Pains without Eating) I really should stop doing this kind of crash diet.
Wikipedia: Water intoxication