According to a report on Gawker, researchers are saying that the recommended eight glasses of water is an unsubstantiated claim regarding optimal hydration. This may come as a surprise for many who have heard the recommendation so much it is as common a health reference as “an apple a day….”
A new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that drinking the commonly prescribed amount of water can be harmful to humans. The authors claim that hyponatremia can result from what they call “thoroughly debunked nonsense” about drinking water past being thirsty
Scottish doctor Margaret McCartney is quoted in Gawker ranting about what she thinks is propaganda from bottled water manufactures in regards to the health benefits of drinking lots of water:
If you’re drinking excessively, if you’re drinking beyond thirst, if you’re drinking beyond comfort, your kidneys are actually having to work very, very hard,” McCartney said.
According to the LA Times, the issue of too much water surfaces among athletes, especially marathon runners. Hyponatremia is a real concern when replacing the water lost during sweating—too much water, and the salt imbalance in the body can cause cells to swell with water, which is particularly dangerous for brain cells.
Hyponatremia symptoms include confusion, nausea and convulsions, according to MedlinePlus. It can also occur in the elderly and hospitalized patients. Some 3.2 to 6.1 million patients get hyponatremia each year, and the condition is associated with congestive heart failure and cancer.
MedlinePlus suggests that athletes, when engaging in sporting activities, should drink beverages fortified with electrolytes instead of water in order to prevent acute hyponatremia.
Sports drink producers are going to love hearing this news, but adding processed sugar to your diet is probably not the best way to deal with these new findings.
Many runners believe in carbohydrate-loading theory because of the belief of many that pastas and bread are the most favorable ways to receive water and carbon, hence the root word “hydrate.” Contrary to this popular belief, many runners are starting to observe the benefits of adding fruits and vegetables that are abundant in electrolytes, like bananas and celery to their pre and post workout meals.
Gawker was able to get a quote from a skeptic of McCartney’s paper–a nutritionist from King’s College in London who countered that McCartney “focused on the more wacky claims made for water,” and expressed concern that the results of her study would veer people towards caffeinated and sugary drinks instead.
There is no debate though–water is, by far, the most important substance for life on earth. So drink up and stay hydrated this summer.