Can you drink too much water?

By Bob Fear

Can you drink too much water?

The human body is very cleverly designed to keep a good natural balance of fluid. We need to stay healthily hydrated for that system to work properly. If you’re sufficiently hydrated and still taking in fluid, your body will simply want to pee out the excess. That’s how it keeps good balance. This is entirely normal and, if we’re in good health, our marvellously miraculous bodies do a very fine job of self-regulating every single day.   

What colour is your pee?

If you’re nicely hydrated your pee will be a very light yellow colour. If you’re not hydrated enough, your pee will be darker. If your pee is absolutely clear then you don’t need to take in any more fluid.

If the weather’s hot and we’re sweating more, that means we’re losing more fluid so we need to drink more. If we’re doing lots of exercise and sweating more then, yes - you get the picture. All the while checking the colour of your pee as an indication of where your body’s really at. You should also be careful with caffeine, which can affect some people more than others. Although still debated, caffeine seems to make some people pee more often - so keep an eye on that.

Over-hydration and hyponatremia

Our ideal method of fluid intake is to sip often throughout the day rather than gulp huge amounts at once. Otherwise our body’s natural balancing act gets a bit overwhelmed. Drinking too much water too quickly could cause you problems. Over-hydration means your body isn’t able to do it’s processing job properly. It can cope with a litre of water an hour at the most. Logic would dictate that you shouldn’t be drinking any more than that in that space of time.

Water intoxication or water poisoning can only happen when you drink absolutely excessive amounts of water – way too much than your body can cope with. If you’re heading that way you’ll probably be painfully bloated and you’ll end up vomiting, That’s a pretty good signal that you’ve drunk too much. Hyponatremia occurs when the salt level in your blood becomes way too diluted. Exercise-associated hyponatremia is relatively common in marathon runners when they have not managed their water intake correctly.

So, can you drink too much water? Listen to your body for the answer – it works little miracles everyday. And check the colour of your pee - all the proof you need is right there. 

Next, find out why you've been so thirsty lately. We delve into the possible reasons and best thirst-quenching drinks.

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