Know your body’s hydration needs

The Asian Age.

Life, Health

Drinking more water than needed can be as harmful as drinking less of it.

Drinking too much water can result in a condition called hyponatremia, which is a dangerous drop in blood sodium levels. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)

We are constantly reminded to stay hydrated. High water intake is good for your skin, flushing out toxins, and for general well-being. Unbelievably enough, it is possible to over-hydrate yourself.

“Drinking too much water can result in a condition called hyponatremia, which is a dangerous drop in blood sodium levels,” said Kristin Koskinen, RDN, registered dietitian in Richland, Washington. “Though it’s relatively uncommon to attain water intoxication, it can happen if you outdrink what your body can excrete,” says Koskinen.

Signs that you are drinking too much water

Monitoring the colour of your pee is the easiest way to track the colour of your pee. Urine colour has different ranges, depending upon how much water you have drunk. The clearer the colour, means the urochrome pigment is diluted. If your pee is clear more often than not, then you are taking in too many fluids.

People pee 6-8 times on an average in a day; even going up to 10 times is normal. But if you feel your trips to the bathroom are interfering in your day-to-day activities, then its time to cut back on the fluid intake.

Excessive water drinking can result in dropping of sodium levels. It can manifest in symptoms like bloating, headache, brain fog, and nausea. “The kidneys have limitations of how much water they can excrete at a time, which is a maximum of 800-1,000 millileters per hour,” said Koskinen. “Anything that exceeds that amount essentially waterlogs the body.”

Know how much water to drink

Estimate how much water your body actually needs. “I recommend starting with a half-ounce of water per pound of body weight,” said Koskinen. “Because muscle carries more water than fat, leaner people may stick closer to this number and those with more body fat may ratchet down, while people who are overweight or obese may want to use their ideal body weight in this calculation.”

Hydration requirements vary from season to season. Day-to-day weather, diet, how active you are, all are important parameters that dictate your body’s water needs. A good way to regulate fluid intake is to look at other avenues of hydration. Water is not the only source, several other foods also contain substantial amount of water.

If soups, fruits, and veggies are important parts of your diet, then you can reduce your water consumption to accommodate these items. If you eat a lot of salty foods in one day, like chips or ramen, then load  up on more water that day to maintain an equilibrium.