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Home / Healthy Eating

Did you know overhydration is a real threat?

Healthy Eating
By Faith Kariuki | 6 months ago | 3 min read

 Drinking too much water too fast dilutes important electrolytes like sodium (Image: Shutterstock)

Have you noticed how when you gulp two or more glasses of water it does not take long before you get an urge to use the toilet?

This happens because when you drink too much water within a short time you get overhydrated, and the amount of water in your blood increases. In response, your kidneys get busy to try and bring a balance by eliminating the excess water through urination.

When you drink too much water too fast, the volume of water in your blood increases, diluting important electrolytes like sodium. Electrolytes are important minerals found in your body that have an electric charge.

They help balance the amount of water in your body, move nutrients to your body cells and make sure your muscles and organs are working as they should.

Sodium maintains a balance of fluids inside and outside your body cells. When the amount of sodium in your body drops due to excess water consumption, fluids can travel from the outside to the inside of cells, causing them to swell.

If this happens to brain cells, it can lead to death. Such severe consequences of overhydration are rare and mainly occur when the body is unable to get rid of the excess water -when body organs are not working as they should.

Athletes and military officers who drink too much water before practice to avoid dehydration run a risk of developing severe symptoms of overhydration.

However, in normal situations drinking excess water does not cause severe effects. Mild symptoms like nausea and an urge to vomit can, however, be experienced. The kidney is able to filter out the excess water and balance the electrolytes before any damage can be done.

When it comes to water intake, how you drink is just as important as how much you drink. Some people love water and do not have a problem meeting their daily requirements.

However, there are those who struggle with this and prefer to get it out of their way by drinking a lot at once.

In such situations, they get the urge to pee urgently and frequently until the body balances itself. Frequent urination can be an inconvenient and it is easy for someone to avoid drinking water altogether in the long run.

Although there is no single best time of the day to drink your water, sipping is better than gulping. When you keep sipping small amounts throughout the day, the body processes the water more efficiently, you stay hydrated throughout the day and you avoid the inconvenience of the frequent bathroom breaks.

The importance of drinking the right amount of water cannot be overemphasised. There is a common misconception that everybody should drink eight glasses of water per day.

More is seen as better, but it is not always the case. The amount of water you need should be based on your age, level of physical activity, weather and physiological status.

Water needs vary from person to person. One of the easiest ways to determine how much water you should be drinking every day is by multiplying your weight by 0.033. For example, someone weighing 75 kilogrammes should drink approximately 2.5 litres of water per day.

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