Water Per Day:
Drinking Too Much Water Is Dangerous
By Dr. Ben
January 12, 2007, a 28-year old Californian wife and mother of three
children died from drinking too much water. Her body was found in
her home shortly after she took part in a water-drinking contest
that was sponsored by a local radio show. Entitled "Hold Your Wee
For A Wii," the contest promoters promised a free Wii video game
machine to the contestant who drank the most water without urinating.
is estimated that the woman who died drank approximately 2 gallons
of water during the contest. When she and other contestants complained
of discomfort and showed visible signs of distress, they were laughed
at by the promoters and even heckled.
tragic news story highlights the importance of understanding why
drinking too much water can be dangerous to your health.
you disregard your sense of thirst and strive to ingest several
glasses of water a day just because you have been told that doing
so is good for your health, you actually put unnecessary strain
on your body in two major ways:
more water than you need can increase your total blood volume.
And since your blood volume exists within a closed system - your
blood circulatory system - needlessly increasing your blood volume
on a regular basis puts unnecessary burden on your heart and blood
kidneys must work overtime to filter excess water out of your
blood circulatory system. Your kidneys are not
the equivalent of a pair of plumbing pipes whereby the more water
you flush through your kidneys, the cleaner they become; rather,
the filtration system that exists in your kidneys is composed
in part by a series of specialized capillary beds called glomeruli.
Your glomeruli can get damaged by unnecessary
wear and tear over time, and drowning your system with large amounts
of water is one of many potential causes of said damage.
unnecessary burden on your cardiovascular system and your kidneys
by ingesting unnecessary water is a subtle process. For the average
person, it is virtually impossible to know that this burden exists,
as there are usually no obvious symptoms on a moment-to-moment basis.
But make no mistake about it: this burden is real and can hurt your
health over the long term.
your body to accept a large amount of water within a short period
of time - say, an hour or two - as several contestants did during
the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest can be fatally dangerous to
your health. Here's why:
you force large amounts of water into your system over a short period
of time, your kidneys will struggle to eliminate enough water from
your system to keep the overall amount at a safe level.
your blood circulatory system becomes diluted with excess water,
the concentration of electrolytes in your blood will drop relative
to the concentration of electrolytes in your cells. In an effort
to maintain an equal balance of electrolytes between your blood
and your cells, water will seep into your cells from your blood,
causing your cells to swell.
this swelling occurs in your brain, the bones that make up your
skull hardly budge. The result is an increase in intracranial pressure
i.e. your brain gets squeezed. Depending on how much water your
drink in a short period of time, you could experience a wide variety
of symptoms, ranging from a mild headache to impaired breathing.
And as occurred recently in the tragic water-drinking contest, it
is quite possible to die if you drink enough water in a short enough
period of time.
information is particularly important for parents to pass on to
their children. Foolish water-drinking contests are not uncommon
among high school and university students, especially while playing
how much water should you drink to best support your health?
answer to this question depends on your unique circumstances, including
your diet, exercise habits, and environment.
you eat plenty of foods that are naturally rich in water, such as
vegetables, fruits, and cooked legumes and whole grains, you may
not need to drink very much water at all. If you do not use much
or any salt and other seasonings, your need for drinking water goes
down even further.
if you do not eat a lot of plant foods and/or you add substantial
salt and spices to your meals, you may need to drink several glasses
of water every day.
of what your diet looks like, if you sweat on a regular basis because
of exercise or a warm climate, you will need to supply your body
with more water (through food and/or liquids) than someone who does
not sweat regularly.
the best guidance I can provide on this issue is to follow your
sense of thirst. Some people believe that thirst is not a reliable
indicator of how much water you need, since many people suffer with
symptoms related to dehydration and don't seem to feel a need to
drink water on a regular basis. My experience has been that
most people who are chronically dehydrated have learned to ignore
a parched mouth. If you ask such people if they are thirsty
and would like a piece of fruit or a glass of water, they will almost
always realize that they are indeed thirsty.
people suggest observing the color of your urine as a way of looking
out for dehydration. The idea is that clear urine indicates that
you are well hydrated, while yellow urine indicates that you need
more water in your system. While this advice is somewhat useful,
it is important to remember that some chemicals (like synthetic
vitamins) and heavily pigmented foods (like red beets) can add substantial
color to your urine. Thumbs down for synthetic vitamins, and thumbs
up for red beets and other richly colored vegetables and fruits.
main idea that I wish to share through this article is to beware
of mindlessly drinking several glasses of water per day without
considering your diet, exercise habits, climate, and sense of thirst.
And when you do find yourself in need of water, remember that you
can get it from liquids and/or whole foods.
share this article with family and friends, as many people are regularly
misinformed on this topic by mainstream media and health practitioners.
Health With Our Free E-mail Newsletter
Join thousands of people from all over the world
who receive our natural health newsletter.
free. You can unsubscribe anytime.
spam. We respect and protect your privacy at all times.
information that you can use to improve the quality of your health
Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate
your newsletter. As a fellow health care provider (optometrist)
and medical researcher, I find your distillation of the literature
into lay terms to be accurate and very understandable. I really
enjoyed your contribution regarding macular degeneration. Keep up
the good work. - Kristine Erickson, OD,
I get a lot of e-mailed newsletters and yours is the only one
I read thoroughly from top to bottom. Your advice is enlightening,
educational, easy to follow and it works! Thank you so much for
all that you offer. - Lisa Abramovic
Thanks for your excellent health newsletter. I look forward
to it every week. Thanks for providing the best online health resource
I have found. - Moorea Maguire
I'm sure as a doctor you hear your share of complaints. I just
thought you'd like to know that there's at least one person in your
"e-audience" that appreciates the time and effort you put into sending
the emails. I really look forward to them. - Linda H., Raleigh,
Many of my adult ESL students are Korean, and enjoy bits and
pieces from your newsletter that I have shared with them. In addition
to your logical approach to health, I enjoy sharing your newsletter
because your English is unfailingly correct as well as easily understood.
Thank you for your beautiful approach to life. - J. Zetterstrom
I thank you and your staff for such a great website. I am former
National Level Bodybuilder so I know a thing or two about health
and fitness. Your site is very valuable and I do my best to pass
it on to friends and people I train. It is also a helpful resource
in my career as a human service provider working with clients who
need to recover from substance abuse. I believe a major part of
recovery is getting your body and mind feeling healthy and strong.
Thank you again! Great Website! - Michael Christopher, MSW
I truly appreciate your wonderful newsletter - your balanced
and professional way of looking at issues is so helpful! -
Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties
and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.