Carrying a water bottle wherever I go has always been my M.O., and although the benefits of drinking a ton of water are bountiful (flushing out toxins, weight loss, increased energy, etc.), research shows that too much of even good old H2O is never a good thing.
Overhydration is defined as an imbalance of fluids, which occurs when your body is receiving more fluids than your kidneys can filter through. You may have commonly heard that you should intake at least eight cups of fluids daily, but there are many other factors to take into consideration such as your size, activity level and your area’s climate. Turns out the magic number should be closer to half your weight in ounces (for example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should be consuming about 60 ounces of water a day). If you’re used to vastly going over this amount daily, you may experience the following effects on your body:
The color of your pee can speak volumes about the state of your health. If you’re drinking so much that even your urine looks like water, you’re drinking more than you need. Healthy urine should appear pale yellow to indicate that you’re properly hydrated. As the color darkens, it could be a sign that you need to refuel on liquids. (Note: Color can also vary based on certain foods and medications–-consult a health professional if you notice anything unusual).
There is a delicate balance of sodium and potassium in the body. These minerals are essential for controlling blood pressure and blood volume. A specific level of both is necessary to draw out excess fluid from the bloodstream as urine. When there is excess water in the blood, this dilutes the blood sodium levels, causing the water to move inside the cells, which then swell up. This is especially dangerous for neurons (nerve cells in the brain) where space is restricted by the skull. Results can range from mild (such as headaches) to life-threatening (brain injuries, coma and even death).
As potassium levels may lower from overhydration, the loss can cause hyponatremia. When levels are extremely low, symptoms can include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
Muscle spasms and cramping
As sodium is an electrolyte, and an excess of water lowers electrolyte levels within the body, you may experience muscle problems as a result. To replenish your body, try replacing a few glasses of water a day with coconut water (which is full of electrolytes and is all natural).
Struggle to get out of bed
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering the water you drink to make sure the fluid levels in your bloodstream stay balanced. Drinking too much water throws your kidneys into overdrive, causing them to work twice as hard. This unnecessary stress causes your body to feel tired or fatigued.