Water – the good, the bad and the ugly

Can drinking water help you lose weight? This topic has been all over the net lately. Pinterest search produces the results with all kinds of ‘infused’ water while the pinners claim in unison that it’s good for you for a vast number of reasons including but not limited to the weight loss.

Drinking Water 1

How much water do you need?
WebMD site states that if you already are well hydrated and getting plenty of water, getting more of it probably won’t make a lot of difference . But of course if you are dehydrated, getting enough water could help.

Moreover, the site claims that since it’s difficult for our body to tell the difference between hunger and thirst, give it a benefit of a doubt by drinking when you think you’re hungry. I wonder why not the other way around as well; eat when you think you’re thirsty… I must be an exception because I can always tell when I’m hungry or actually I know when it’s the time for my diabetic snack (2 carbs). I also know when I’m thirsty as well that oftentimes happens after having indulged in a bag of potato chips. Yes, I know I’m bad 😉

WebMD quotes a study in which participants who drank water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at each meal. The meal likely wasn’t home cooked IMO. Said 75 calories when multiplied by 365 days, equal 27,000 fewer calories in a year time which in turn spells out eight-pound weight loss. The study however doesn’t count in any other variables such as age, lifestyle, exercise, pregnancy, employment, etc.

What bugs me is that the site uses the term ‘dehydrated’ lightly. Dehydration is a medical emergency that can land you in a hospital in no time flat, and trust me, you don’t want to end up in a hospital if you can help it.

Can you drink too much water?
Yes, you can. This can cause a dangerous condition called Water Intoxication or Hyponatremia which is an extremely low level of blood sodium level. When this happens, your body cells begin to swell which could cause many problems, and then you’ll have to cut down on your water intake.

Scientific American website actually questions whether drinking too much water can kill. Where, the site asks, did people get the idea that guzzling enormous quantities of water is healthful? The site is even going as far as stating that drinking eight of 8-oz glasses of water per day can be harmful. I’ve always thought this was a norm, but oh well.

The site further goes on saying that when exercising, you should drink what you’re sweating. Since it’s kinda difficult to calculate, the site suggests to “drink to your thirst”. I think so too. I don’t think that you should grab a snack when you think you’re thirsty.

As you can see, if you listen to ALL advises on the net, you’ll find them quite contradictory.

Can drinking too much water kill you?
Yes, it can. While the risks of not getting enough water are well known, the dangers of getting too much water are not. Drinking too much water (overhydration) can cause water intoxication or water poisoning. Water just like about any substance, can be considered a poison when overconsumed. There are known fatalities associated with drinking too much water.

For example, The UK site Daily Mail tells about a woman who was hiking through the Grand Canyon and fainted at the end of the hike. She was then taken to the hospital. What happened was that she drank too much water which caused drop of sodium level in her blood and her brain swell. She didn’t make it. According to the site, this was the first documented case of a hiker dying of water intoxication.

Another instance took place about ten years ago, when Jennifer Strange, a 28-year old California mother of 3 died within a few hours after competing in a contest “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” sponsored by a local radio station. The participants competed to see how much water they could drink without going to the bathroom. The winner would receive a new Nintendo Wii video game console that retailed at $250.

Jennifer Strange consumed 2 gallons of water in 3 hours time but came in second and didn’t win the game console. She went home with a splitting headache, called in sick to work and was found dead at her home a few hours later by her mother. It was determined that she died of water intoxication.

Wikipedia site quotes more lethal consequences as a result of drinking too much water. Click here.

Bottom line:  watch out how much water you drink.  Don’t overdo.

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