This much we all know: hydration is good and dehydration is bad. To go further, adequate hydration is crucial for homeostasis – the maintenance of an equilibrium in the body’s temperature, fluid balance, blood sugar level, etc. On the other hand, the lack of adequate and timely hydration can manifest in dry skin, bad breath, migraines, lethargic spells and other such ills. What if you drank too much water instead? Is there even such a thing as overhydration?
I decided to learn more about this. Of all the water-related experiments that I came across in my research, the 30-Day Gallon of Water Challenge looked the most promising. Those who had tried it reported experiencing weight loss, improved mental focus, better sleep quality and better looking skin. It sounded good to me.
What’s The Deal?
The challenge involves consuming a gallon of water (3.8 litres, or approximately 15 tall glasses) every day for a month without altering anything else in my lifestyle. It seemed simple enough, even though I’ll admit that the image of geese being force-fed for foie gras did flash across my mind. In the interest of better health, I decided to bite the bullet.
In A Month
For the first week, the sudden surge in water intake caused me to feel waterlogged and queasy. Naturally, it also meant an increased frequency of toilet visits – quite a bother at work, for sure. But I got used to it eventually. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience either improved sleep quality or sharper focus even by the end of the month.
There were some subtle changes though. Friends and colleagues noticed that my skin appeared more lustrous. I was also recovering from workouts more quickly than I usually did. Food wise, I found myself developing a cleaner palate, while my appetite was suppressed from feeling full with water. By the end of the experiment, I had lost 1.1kg. Could this be a placebo effect, though?
Beneath The Surface
“Water has various functions,” said Dr Naras Lapsys, the nutrition and longevity specialist at The Wellness Clinic, when I spoke to him about this. “For active people, it prevents overheating during and after training by keeping the body cool. It also helps with lubricating the joints. As for fine lines appearing less pronounced, it’s because the skin cells are plump with moisture. And if you’re feeling full from water, and thus eating less junk food, it’s only natural to notice some weight loss,” he pointed out.
The Final Drop
According to Dr Lapsys, excess water is generally safe, apart from those who are prone to hyponatremia, such as athletes. “It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking eight or 15 glasses of water a day. The kidneys will remove any excess,” he said.
Does this mean that we should be changing the daily recommended intake to 15 glasses a day?
“There is no particular benefit in consuming excess water,” Dr Lapsys admitted. “Although some individuals have experienced positive effects, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to back it up,” he explained. That is good news: I must admit it wasn’t easy to drink at least 15 glasses of water a day, so I’m just going to listen to my body and drink when I’m thirsty.
Coming Clean: Dr Lapsys shedS some light on some queries regarding water.
What is hyponatremia?
It is a condition of having low sodium concentrations in the blood. Because sodium is essential for balancing healthy water levels in the body, a lack of it can mess the body up. Nausea and dizziness are telltale signs; coma and even death can occur in severe cases.
Does the type of water you consume matter?
Unsure if you should be drinking distilled, mineral, alkaline or oxygenated water? Don’t fret. According to Dr Lapsys, this is simply product differentiation between brands – the differences do not matter.
Are we in mortal danger if we consume less than two litres of water a day?
Death as a result of dehydration from drinking insufficient water is uncommon. Fatalities linked to dehydration usually involve other factors. Even the general benchmark of drinking two litres a day was based on an inconclusive 1945 study, according to Dr Lapsys. For once, let’s borrow a line from booze advertising to gauge when we should down that glass of water – obey your thirst.
The Wellness Clinic is located at 501 Orchard Road, #04-01, Wheelock Place, Singapore 238880. Click here for more details.