Drinking six to eight glasses of water can we’ve long been told, boost concentration, give us a better complexion and more energy, keep headaches at bay, help us to detox and even curb our appetites.
As a result many of us carry a bottle of trusty H20 with us everywhere we go. So it may come as a bit of surprise to find that some experts have started calling into question the health benefits of drinking lots of water, suggesting that consuming the recommended one and a half to two liters a day is more than the body needs. Some have even gone so far as to warn that our obsession with drinking water has the potential life –threatening health issues.
Over the past few years people have started reporting that they have become addicted to drinking water. Labeled aquaholics , they’ve been lured by the promises of better skin, a detoxed body and more energy, but soon feel they can’t manage without regular sips of water – and feel panicky if they have to go without for even short lengths of time.
Dr. Herman Sewagudde, of seven Hills medical centre Ntinda, is one of those experts who argue that drinking more water than you should over an extended period of time, resets the brains chemistry to expect excessive amounts of water. So, how can drinking too much water be harmful? And how much is too much?
Dr. Herman says, drinking too much water leads to excessive sweating which in some patients gets so severe that some consider surgery to remove their sweat glands. “I usually ask my patients how much water they drink and they say a lot to compensate the sweat. When I tell them to reduce their water intake it usually turns out that their sweating reduces drastically,” he explains.
Drinking too much water especially towards the end of the day can disrupt sleep. “when we fall asleep, our brains release an anti diuretic hormone to slow down kidney function and stop us feeling the need to urinate during the night, “ Dr. Herman.
“If you drink two or three glasses of water in the evening, however, all extra fluid working its way through your system is likely to override this hormone, fill your bladder, and have you getting up in the small hours. It can then be difficult to fall back to sleep,” he says.
Dr. Herman, recommends no fluids for two or even better three before bedtime. If you struggle to sleep a warm bath will help you dehydrate slightly, will make it less likely you will need to get up in the night.
“Drinking too much water can wreck havoc with the delicate balance of salts in the body,” says Dr. Herman. “If you a lot of water in a very short space of time the kidneys cant remove the excess fluid from blood becomes more diluted than it should be with very low concentrations of salt. The salt levels in the blood and body are usually the same. But if the blood suddenly becomes more dilute, it can cause cells in particular brain cells to swell. Its causes pressure in the skull, which can lead to headaches which can be fatal.
How much is enough
Experts have always advised us to drink about 4 litres of water a day. However, Dr. Herman says, tea, juice and even water contained in fruits and vegetables can be considered as water . “You really do not need to drink water to stay hydrated, fluid is fluid as far as the body is concerned, with the exception of alcohol which has a diuretic effect and can dehydrate us.
How to tell you’ve had enough
The amount someone should drink depends on size and physical activity. The bigger and more active you are the more water you need.
If you feel thirsty then drink, if it is hot weather drink even more.
But then you need to keep looking at the color of your urine. It should be a light straw color. If it is any darker then you need to drink more, if it is lighter then you are drinking too much and need to slow down.