Nowadays, we hear people mention the 8×8 rule more and more often. We don’t only hear it on TV or at the hospital, but also in the park, at the supermarket or even at the gas station. Everyone seems to know that drinking eight 8-ounce glasses per day is a necessity if you want to stay healthy.
But is it really so? Do our bodies really need that certain quantity of water everyday? Or it’s just an invention whose purpose is to make us more careful to what we drink?
Well, scientists have finally come to a steadier conclusion: It doesn’t matter how much water you drink daily, as long as your body is properly hydrated and you don’t feel the need to drink more.
And after all, there’s no reason to question this, we all know that the human body is capable to make us aware of our deficiencies. Don’t we feel the need to eat when our stomach is empty? Or don’t we start shivering when we’re cold? It’s the same with water, we feel thirsty every time our body needs more liquids.
There’s no point filling up our body with water if there’s no need for it. There’s actually a big reason why we shouldn’t.
It’s a known fact that too little water can lead to dehydration, and dehydration can easily kill you. But have you ever thought that too much water can also have the very same effect?
In everyone’s body, there is a certain balance between the electrolytes (the minerals from the blood together with the fluid that carries the electric charge) and water. Once this balance is destroyed, that person’s life may be in a real danger.
Physicians call this health issue “hyponatremia”, but it is widely known as “water poisoning”. It may sound funny, but it is a very severe condition which, if not treated properly and rapidly, can lead to renal failure and afterwards, death.
How does this happen? Well, once the quantity of water from our body becomes much higher than normal, the quantity of electrolytes will become too low for it, therefore an imbalance between these 2 would be unavoidable.
And once that imbalance appears, the person will start to experience muscular cramps, dizziness, nausea and even convulsions. If these aren’t treated, they can rapidly lead to death.
Therefore, is water poisoning something we can often deal with? Is it something we should try to avoid as much as we can?
Well, fortunately for us, it’s pretty hard to play tricks on a pair of healthy kidneys, even by mistake.
This means that water intoxications aren’t as common in average people as they are in professional athletes. The latter are actually known for consuming a much higher quantity of water, but for good reasons, right?
Well, the results of a 2005 study published in New England Journal of Medicine claim that almost 1/6 of the 2002 Boston Marathon participants have experienced a certain level of hyponatremia.
Another study, published in the 2006 British Journal of Sports Magazine, states that physical exercises are frequently associated with hyponatremia because of the excessive water consumption.
In that article, Timothy Noakes and Benjamin Speedy, two sports medicine doctors, claim the biomedical community is in a process of admitting the risks of the over-hydration in professional athletes.
However, these examples aren’t something we should worry about too much, as they are pretty rare cases in average people. The most important thing is to drink a proper quantity of water after physical exercise or effort, without exaggerating.
So, now you’re probably wondering “Okay, too much water isn’t good at all?”, but can drinking too much water actually kill you?
Yes, it can, in theory. But just like I said before, it’s not really the case to worry, because you couldn’t normally drink so much water that would lead to water intoxication. Your body would show you clear signs and would make you stop.
However, be careful how much water you consume after a high effort and make sure you don’t drink a much higher quantity than you feel your body needs. As long as you respect this, you will never have to ask yourself if drinking too much water can kill you.