Have You Heard of Death by…Water?
You have probably heard it throughout your entire life by your parents and your doctor, “Are you drinking enough water?” Water is essential for the human body to function. But can it be dangerous? A recent study has found that consuming too much water can be just as harmful as drinking too little.
New guidelines and warnings published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine and announced at the International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference have outlined the safest amount to consume without drinking too much. The study’s lead author, Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, an exercise science professor at Oakland University explains, “Our major goal was to re-educate the public on the hazards of drinking beyond thirst during exercise. Every single exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) death is tragic and preventable, if we just listen to our bodies and let go of the pervasive advice that if a little is good, than more must be better.”
What is EAH?
Experts have targeted runners, football players and other athletes at the highest risk of drinking too much during their physical activity, causing EAH. EAH is a condition where the kidneys become overwhelmed by the large quantity of liquid that it is being forced to process. The body’s naturally occurring sodium can’t keep up with the amount of water consumed, which causes swelling in the cells and in the most severe cases, death.
Common symptoms and warning signs of EAH include:
- Weight gain during physical activity
“Using the innate thirst mechanism to guide fluid consumption is a strategy that should limit drinking in excess and developing hyponatremia while providing sufficient fluid to prevent excessive dehydration,” according to the guidelines.
How much water is just the right amount?
Because water is a key chemical of the body, it needs to remain within a healthy range to balance out the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, the human body loses water every day through breathing, sweating, urinating, and having a bowel movement. To replenish the amount of water your body loses, the Institute of Medicine has determined 16 8-ounce cups (3.7 liters) for men and 11 8-ounce cups (2.7 liters) for women as the ideal amount to consume without overwhelming the cells. Sports drinks that contain sodium can also help to replace and balance out increased water intake while reducing the chances of developing hyponatremia.
How do you feel about this study? What are some ways you make sure you consume enough water every day?