Drinking Water can Kill You

Beware of Over-Hydration

We’re constantly told how good water is for us and that we should drink at least two litres of the clear stuff each and every day. Nevertheless, many people aren’t aware that there are also upper limits for fluid intake. Drinking far too much water is extremely hazardous to health and can even cause death.

Drinking excessive amounts of water causes a problem within the body known as Hyponatremia. This is a low concentration of sodium in the blood and is caused by too much fluid intake. Just so you know, fluid intake includes everything from water to sports drinks and coffee.

The concept of over-hydration seems to counter the traditional notion that a high intake of water is good for our skin, kidneys, detoxing and the like. Whilst water is generally very good news indeed – it is not necessarily true that you can’t have too much. This story was in the paper’s today about a man who died due to over-hydration: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/man-on-diet-collapsed-and-died-after-drinking-too-much-water-3287930.html

Death by Over-Hydration

In the article a young man on an alternative medicine diet died following over-hydration. The vegan diet advised the taking of salt supplements and high levels of water intake. However, it resulted in the overdosing of the young man on water and his subsequent death from cerebral oedema or swelling of the brain.

This swelling of the brain is caused by the body attempting to correct the electrolyte or salt imbalance. When this happens our body tries to correct the issue by releasing more sodium in the blood. This causes water to flow into cells. If too much water enters, then the cells may swell and burst.

Marathon Runners

Marathon runners are also commonly exposed to water overdosing issues and they are far more common than you would imagine. A study of 488 runners after the Boston Marathon showed that around 13 per cent had overdosed on water to the degree their sodium levels had fallen, though only 1 per cent of those measured were in the critical level.

In the world of running this has led to many marathons and long distance races reducing the number of water points along the way. Advice has also changed and athletes are told to drink while thirsty rather than stay ahead of thirst.

Cleansing Diets

Of course for dieters and those on ‘cleansing and detox diets’ this medical issue may also be a problem. Side effects of over dosing on water range from feeling nauseous and headaches, to passing out, comas and even death.  The irony is that many of the side effects of over dosing on water are very similar to those of dehydration.

Your body can only process a set amount of water each hour, 30oz approx. If you continuingly drink over 50-60oz of water an hour you may pass into the danger zone and so suffer the problems associated with overdosing on water.

Any diet that has you drink excessive amounts of water is not necessarily good for you and can lead to the aforementioned problems. Drinking two to three litres of water a day is the advice for optimum levels of hydration. This of course depends on your body weight and levels of exertion.

Please don’t read this as a warning about staying away from water. Water is great, it helps you lose weight and it helps you to stay healthy. Instead this is a cautionary tale that too much of anything (even water) is not good for you.

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