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Can You Have Too Much Of A Good Thing?

The news recently carried a story about an Indiana woman that died over the July 4th holiday weekend due to drinking too much water while on a family excursion to a lake.  According to reports, she felt dehydrated, drank about 64 ounces of water in 20 minutes and then later, began to feel dizzy and nauseated.  She lapsed into a coma, was brought to a hospital and was found to have brain swelling.  Unfortunately, she could not be saved and passed away at age 35.

As you have read ad nauseum in these entries, I highly recommend lots of water intake as part of a health/weight control strategy.  Water comprises 55-60% of our body weights and water is essential to carry out the metabolic reactions that are essential for our bodily functions.  Water is by far and away the best beverage we should ingest for our health/wellness.  Water makes us feel fuller and also increases metabolic rates.

However, here is the potential danger of drinking too much water:  Over ingestion of water could create an electrolyte imbalance, most notably a lowering of our serum sodium levels.  When low sodium levels occur (“hyponatremia”), this can lead to swelling in the body, including the brain.  Brain swelling, in turn, can lead to death.

Electrolyte containing water drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade are probably the best fluids to ingest when rigorous exercise is performed and we are sweating a lot.  When we sweat we not only lose water but we are also losing sodium, potassium and other electrolytes.  Drinking plain water will not replace the lost electrolytes.

My recommendation for water intake for a weight control strategy: 64 ounces a day of plain water and you can add on electrolyte containing water drinks up to a total of 100 ounces a day of both.  If rigorous exercise is performed that day, the total can go above 100 but this should come from the electrolyte containing waters.  For older people that experience frequent urination, keep the water intake to around 48 ounces a day.

Water is a “good thing” but there can sometimes be too much of “good things” and in the case of water, too much can lead to trouble…stay away from that bridge over troubled water…and with that as an introduction….

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