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Can You Be Over-Hydrated?

Drinking too much water can be as dangerous as being dehydrated.

July 20, 2015 on Rodell Wellness

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OK, now you're probably saying to yourself, hey, what's up Smooth 8, I thought you were all about drinking lots of water and staying super hydrated? You're right, we are 100% right there on the subject but... it has been proved that too much H2O can be damaging as well.

Read on > 

As the summer months continue to swelter, dehydration gets all the attention. But over-hydration—especially for athletes—is a lesser-known issue with equally concerning health risks, even death, according to Mitchell Rosner, MD, kidney specialist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. "We have documented at least 14 deaths since 1981, including two deaths last summer in young athletes playing football," Rosner said. "The common feature in all cases is excessive water consumption during athletic events. This is driven by common misbeliefs that over hydration can improve performance and even prevent dehydration."

Dr. Rosner explains that over hydrating can lead to exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), a condition when the body has too much water relative to salt. Neurological issues are another possible outcome of EAH. Symptoms can include cloudy thinking, nausea, headaches, and, in severe cases, seizures, confusion, and coma. If you think you could be suffering from EAH, stop drinking and call for medical assistance.

He also says that switching to sports drinks isn't the answer because, while sports drinks can contain salt, they're still mostly water. (Not to mention that some sports drinks may contain flame retardants.)

Talia Fuhrman, author of Love Your Body, agrees with Dr. Rosner—let your thirst be your guide. "Not one study indicates that we need to drink eight glasses of water every day," she says "Drink only to your thirst, and let your body be your reliable hydration guide."

Another way to stay hydrated throughout the day without counting your glasses of water is by switching to a plant-based diet. "A plant-based diet by nature is a high water-content diet," says Fuhrman. "A large salad with crispy romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and pine nuts, for instance, contains a significant chunk of water. Follow that with a pear or an orange, and you've just ingested enough water to keep you going for half the day!"

For everyday hydration, there are plenty of thirst-quenching foods. "Many people who've transitioned from the standard American diet to a plant-based diet find that they require less water simply because the foods they eat are low in salt and H2O rich," says Fuhrman. "Doesn't that sound better than struggling to slurp down glasses of water all day?"

Thanks to Rodell Wellness for this insightful take on the nature of staying hydrated. Want to enhance your water with nourishing antioxidants + alkaline to balance your body?


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