Little Known Reasons You May Be Drinking Too Much Water
Is it really possible that something as healthy as water could be bad for health? Believe it or not, it is. Of course, water is vital to life. Scientists tell us that more than 60 percent of the human body is water. So it is possible to suffer from dehydration. However, as we’ll see in today’s article, public health campaigns warning us to drink large amounts of water can backfire. The consequences can be worse than you thought.
Read on, and we’ll look at the simple ways you can rest assured that you are always drinking exactly the right amount of water and no more.
How Much Water Do You Really Need?
Many of us have been been advised to drink “at least 8 glasses (8 ounces each) of water every day”. That’s 64 ounces, or half a gallon of water. This advice is so common that surely it must be true, right? After all, we’ve heard it from nutritionists, doctors, coaches, trainers, and plenty of other experts.
But it turns out that there is absolutely no scientific basis for the claim. None. Zip. Nada. Somebody just made it up, and everyone else has been parroting it ever since.
Some organizations, like the Mayo Clinic, aren’t satisfied with a mere 64 ounces of water. They recommend, instead, nearly half again as much for a whopping 3 liters of water every day.
Many experts claim that drinking that much water is “cleansing” and good for the kidneys. They claim it “increases the metabolism”, “tames the appetite”, and “improves the skin”. They also try to scare us by telling us that if we don’t drink that much water, we’ll suffer from dehydration. In fact, one popular claim is that thirst occurs only after you are already dehydrated.
The implication is that we should be drinking water all the time, even if we aren’t thirsty.
But again, there is absolutely no scientific basis for any such claims. They are just made up.
Most of us have never considered whether drinking too much water is even possible or whether that might have negative effects. We’ve been taught that drinking water is harmless. But it turns out that we’ve been misled.
Our bodies need to carefully regulate the levels of minerals. You’ve probably heard talk of electrolytes, which is just a fancy way of describing minerals like sodium, potassium, chloride, and so forth. These minerals are essential for human health. We need a lot of them in our bodies to conduct electrical impulses. And when they aren’t in the right balance, health problems follow.
We lose electrolytes in urine and sweat. That’s one of the reasons that sports drinks contain added minerals because athletes who sweat a lot can suffer from the effects of electrolyte imbalance.
What are some of the effects? Mild electrolyte imbalance can produce irritability, headaches, cold hands and feet, insomnia, and fatigue. As the imbalance gets more severe, mental confusion can set in. And although electrolyte imbalance fatalities are rare, drinking too much water in the wrong conditions can and does lead to death in extreme cases.
Drinking too much water at any time can be problematic. It becomes even worse when coupled with strenuous exercise. In fact, studies show that many marathon runners experience a dangerous form of electrolyte imbalance called hyponatremia as a result of prolonged sweating. And drinking water in such cases can actually make matters worse if you’re not careful.
Of course, if you sweat a great deal, then you will likely need to rehydrate. But many of us are used to drinking large amounts of water after exercise, and the amount of water may be too much. Consider that even during a very strenuous exercise session the amount of sweat is unlikely to amount to more than a cup. So drinking a liter of water is excessive.
The reason why drinking excessive water after or during strenuous exercise is particularly dangerous is this. Normally the kidneys can remove about a quart of water per hour. But during strenuous exercise the kidneys remove far less water. So excessive water consumption during that time can actually cause dangerous swelling in the body.
A Simple Solution
The Natural Health Liberty newsletter is all about empowering you. The current political and social climate is one in which there are countless experts trying to tell you what to do. But do you really need experts to tell you how much water to drink?
It turns out that your body is perfectly tuned to meet its actual water needs. The way in which it takes care of that is through something called thirst. As simple as this may be, it’s foolproof. Drink only as much fluid as you want and only when you want it.
You see, when the electrolytes in your body become too concentrated, your body will feel thirsty. By drinking only as much as you actually desire, you will perfectly balance the electrolyte levels in your body. But if you try to drink extra water, you’ll end up doing harm.
Keep in mind that our ancestors weren’t chugging gallons of bottled water to stay healthy. We can take some cues from them. Drink only when thirsty, and drink to quench your actual thirst. Also, by eating more fruits and vegetables, your desire for other fluids will naturally be lower because fruits and vegetables have a lot of natural water content.
Another benefit of fruits and vegetables is that along with water, they also provide electrolytes. Milk also provides both water and electrolytes. So while pure water may be very appropriate at some times, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to be drinking a lot of pure water all day long.
Salt is also an important nutrient that you should not be skimping on. Salt contains both sodium and chloride, which are both important electrolytes. If you find that you crave some salty foods, that may be a good indication that you need some salty foods to balance your electrolytes.
The bottom line is this. When it comes to fluid and electrolyte balance, trust your body, not the experts. Real science shows that there are no one-size-fits-all rules for how much water to drink in the day. But if you trust your body, you’ll be right on target.