"Hyperhydration," or “water intoxication” — ever heard of it? It means drinking too much water, and too much water can become toxic - or even fatal! What is “too much water?” Everyone needs to drink eight to ten glasses of water every day in order to stay healthy, right? Wrong. How this myth ever arose is a complicated issue, but a myth it is, according to many authorities on the subject. “I can’t even tell you that,” said Barbara Rolls, a nutrition researcher at Pennsylvania State University, “and I’ve written a book on water.”
The typical human body loses about ten cups of water per day, through sweat, excretion, exhalation, and other normal functions. Food generally provides about four cups of water per day.
Beverages of all kinds can help to make to up the difference: caffeinated or not, carbonated or not, sweetened or not. The only liquid that is known to cause actual dehydration is alcohol, and then only in excessive amounts.According to Dr Stanley Goldfarb and Dr Dan Negoianu of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, there are four leading myths about water intake: more water leads to more toxin excretion, improves skin tone, makes one less hungry, and reduces headache frequency.
After extensive review of the published studies which examined the alleged health benefits of water consumption, the two doctors concluded that people in hot, dry climates, athletes, and people with certain diseases might do better with increased fluid intake, but for average healthy people, more water did not mean better health.
According to a reader of the LA Times, “Although not trained in medicine or nutrition, I instinctively knew that the advice to drink eight glasses of water per day was nonsense. The advice fully meets three important criteria for being an American health 'urban legend:' excess, public virtue, and the search for a cheap ‘magic bullet.’ ”
And, I would add, the ever-important profit motive. The following are a few examples of death by “water intoxication,” from Wikipedia: “Artist Andy Warhol died from a cardiac arrhythmia. His family sued the hospital, claiming the arrhythmia was a result of water intoxication from being overloaded with fluids after routine gallbladder surgery.“
Leah Betts died on November 16, 1995 as the result of drinking too much water, though in the media her death was initially attributed to taking an ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday party.
“On September 12, 1999, US Air Force basic trainee Michael J. Schindler died of heat stroke, severely complicated by water intoxication, two days after becoming seriously ill during a 5.8 mile march. The Air Force changed its recruit training procedures as a result.“
On June 9, 2002, 4-year-old Cassandra Killpack of Springville, Utah died as a result of water intoxication when her parents forcefully fed her one gallon (3.8 liters) of water in a short period while she was being disciplined. Her parents, Richard and Jennette Killpack, were convicted in 2005 of child abuse homicide.
The human body has been imbued with an infallible gift, called “thirst,” the obvious signs of which are often ignored. The general rule is: when thirsty, drink. When not thirsty, don’t drink, unless you want to. The body is constantly trying to maintain its liquid equilibrium, and can do a pretty good job when its simple dictates are followed.
Bottled waters may look classy and convey status, but they don’t have to meet standards any more rigorous than your own tap water does. Many consumers spend thousands of dollars per year on expensive bottled waters, when their own tap water, put through a by-the-sink filter might provide them with better-quality water.The fact is, the current bottled-water craze, taken to excess, is mostly a mix of fashion, fiction, and very little science. Many of us operate on the all-too-human principle: "if some is good, more must be better." Beware, you excessive exercise-aholics. Don’t become inadvertent victims of water intoxication!