We are constantly bombarded with articles and advertisements advocating that we drink copious amounts of water to achieve beautiful complexions, but how much water is enough, how much water is too much?
Medically referred to as Hyponatremia, over hydration can happen and it does carry a real health risk.
When the fluid outside of our cells is low in sodium, water is moved into the cells, which makes them swell. This swelling can be very dangerous, especially in brain cells where it can lead to seizures, coma, and or death.
Over hydration is the result of either the body retaining too much water or the body being subjected to the over consumption of water. Both of these can cause cell swelling.
Overhydration, How it Happens
It is important to realize that there is no scientific formula for how much water a person should drink. Factors such as age, altitude, temperature, type of activity, medical conditions and existing level of fitness all need to be taken into account.
Overconsumption of water can happen as a result of radical dieting recommendations, prescription medications which give the sensation of a dry mouth and medical conditions such as unregulated diabetes which can cause intense thirst.
When functioning normally, the body is extremely careful in controlling how much water is processed by the kidneys and expelled while simultaneously activating the sensation of thirst to induce more water consumption. However, this process can be thrown off track by medical conditions such as kidney issues, faulty hormone production, congestive heart failure, and cirrhosis of the liver leading to excessive water retention.
Who is at Risk?
Not all of us engaged in physical activity are at high risk. In all likelihood, we are more likely to suffer from dehydration with the exception of athletes partaking in endurance sports which last longer than two hours in duration. During these intensive sessions of fluid loss through sweating, problems can occur when fluids are over replaced or when sodium losses are not replenished.
Individuals experiencing certain health issues or taking specific medications are also at higher risk.
Prevention of Overhydration:
If you are participating in endurance sports or training; adequate sodium intake before, during, and after high intensity work outs is vital.
Don’t be fooled by the marketing behind energy drink campaigns. Choose drinks that do not contain high levels of sugar and extra additives as these require your body to use its own fluids to dilute them and therefore do not properly hydrate.
Remember that gulping large amounts of water overwhelms your body with sheer fluid volume. This flushes your kidneys causing you to pass urine more frequently without any beneficial hydration affects on your body.
Don’t stop drinking water but do avoid the risks of overhydration by thinking about hydration holistically. For well being consider all the factors in the hydration equation.
Connect with Dr Martina van der Mescht, 011 954 0070.