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August 2, 2020
Hyperhydration: Do you drink too much water?

Many of you may find the question I am asking strange, especially now in the summer that it is necessary to drink plenty of water, since due to the increased temperature the body -usually- has greater needs. Theoretically, under normal circumstances, a healthy adult man should consume about 2.5 το 3 liters of water per day and a healthy adult woman 2 το 2.2 liters of water per day. Of course, everyone's needs fluctuate depending on their level of physical activity, age, gender, ambient temperature, and other external factors. What is certain is that we should drink water before we even feel thirsty, since -basically- when we have this feeling, it means that we are already dehydrated.

But what happens when we drink too much water…that is, more than what our body needs? Are there any negative effects in this case? Unfortunately, -although they are rare- there are… More specifically, in case of excessive water consumption, the body can suffer from poisoning, also known as hyponatremia. What does this mean? That the sodium levels inside the cells of the body are very low and so, there is no balance of fluids between the outside and the inside of the body’s cells. This will result in various negative effects on the health of the individual. Some of these effects are nausea, gastrointestinal disorders, changes in mental state, disorientation, seizures, coma, while the person can be even led to death. But as I told you above, this is something rare and can happen in cases when someone consumes more than 800 ml or 1 liter of water per hour.

You should know that the people who are most prone to hyperhydration are usually athletes and specifically marathoners or ultramarathon runners, rugby athletes, cyclists, rowers, triathletes, and military trainees who follow intense workout programs, as well as people with kidney problems. In fact, in a relevant study that was conducted on healthy military men during their training, it was found that 77% of the participants experienced symptoms of hyperhydration in the first 4 weeks of their training, as they consumed equal to or more than 2 liters of water per hour. As you understand, water is good but we should not overdo it!

You should also know that…

1. we can get a percentage of water from the food we consume within the day, mainly from vegetables and fruits. This is another good reason to add plenty of vegetables and fruits to your daily diet.

2. the average adult needs 3 to 4 liters of water a day (including food).

3. if you go to the toilet often, e.g. more than 8 times a day, then it may mean that you drink a little more water than you should. Of course, this also depends on various factors, such as whether you have consumed coffee, alcohol, or if you are in a state of stress (then, we really need more water).

As you understand, everything needs balance! Each body is different, and it is always good to follow the advice of an expert before changing our diet and especially when it comes to a specialized case or a special diet.

Akis

This article was written in collaboration with the Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.

* The website akispetretzikis.com offers as a service a variety of blogs and articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.

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