On a regular basis I hear “experts” touting the benefits of drinking water, and lots of it. Although staying hydrated is good for your health and your appearance, too much water can be dangerous. Let’s dispel the myth right now; you do NOT need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Why this myth persists despite the lack of scientific evidence proving it is remarkable.
Water keeps virtually every system in our bodies functioning properly. It normalizes blood pressure, protects organs and tissues, and helps regulate our body temperature. Water aids in digestion, maintains electrolyte balance and is necessary for almost every cellular reaction in the body.
Too much water, however, is dangerous. Water intoxication or water poisoning is caused from an abnormal electrolyte balance due to excessive water intake. When the body can’t excrete water through the kidneys faster than the body takes it in sodium concentration in the blood falls, a condition called hyponatremia. Symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, headache, and confusion and in the most extreme cases, even death. When consumed in abundance, water can be considered a poison.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not give any recommendations as to how much plain water an individual should drink but does make recommendations for daily water intake. Daily water intake includes all water consumed by both beverages and food. The average American gets approximately 20% of their daily water intake from food. If your diet is high in fruits and vegetables, that percentage is even higher. Healthy water intake recommendations vary by age, ethnicity, and level of activity, baseline health, and even altitude and ambient temperature.
Water is definitely necessary for a healthy body. But more is not always better. In abundance, water can be toxic.
The human body is amazing. When the body is healthy, it has an incredible way of letting you know when it needs water. Simply said, you feel thirsty. So how much water do you really need to drink daily? Eat a nutritious diet and let thirst be your guide.