It seems like every other week there’s a new trend on social media. This one can be dangerous.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

It’s called overhydration. Water seems a lot safer than day, unknown supplements or new diet pills. So you drink an extra bit of water and you think, well, you’ll just be going to the bathroom a lot more. That is an assumption and it’s not a good one. You’ve probably seen some posts with women holding water-drinking competitions with those gallon water containers we’re seeing so much of.

The problem is sodium. The more water you drink, the more sodium your body needs. Sodium is a key mineral our body needs and most often we get it through of course, salt. And for the most part, our kidneys do a great job of filtering the water and getting it out through urination. Our bodies work on a fine balance of water and sodium and overhydrating can disrupt that balance. There are some medical conditions that can cause the body to retain water. Sodium manages the balance of water inside and outside of our cells.

Drinking too much water on purpose however, can over-tax your kidneys and by diluting the sodium, lead to issues such as congestive heart failure, in rare cases it can lead to brain swelling too, which is deadly. Part of the challenge is that symptoms indicating overhydration can take a while to show up but include headache and nausea. As it progresses you may have seizures and faint as well.

There’s a common myth that you should drink eight glasses of water a day. But that’s not really true. We all need different amounts of water, based on our sex, age, weather, type of activity and our overall health. When it’s very hot outside we tend to naturally need more water as we perspire more.

One easy way to get a sense of where you are for hydration is your urine. Dark urine means you need more water, colourless urine means you’re over hydrated. The goal is a nice golden colour that looks like lemonade. Let your thirst be your guide, not social media.

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