Are You Drinking Too Much Water?

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

We all know water is so healthy and important to drink plenty of throughout the day; after all 60% of the human body is water but as many as two-thirds of Americans don’t drink enough water.

We need water to run every system in our body including:

  • Help fuel our metabolism
  • Maintain healthy blood and blood pressure
  • Transport nutrients to cells
  • Flush toxins out of organs
  • Maintain moisture in the ear, nose and throat

Dehydration can be serious and life threatening. It can contribute to issues including:

  • Lack of energy, fatigue or lethargy
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hunger and especially cravings for salty or sugary foods.  Next time you’re reaching for a super sweet treat, especially in the late afternoon, reach for a glass of water first.

How do you know if you’re adequately hydrated?
Monitoring your thirst can help but so can keeping an eye on your urine. Keep in mind that other things can temporarily change the color of your urine, including some medications, beets, blackberries and artificial coloring in foods, according to MedlinePlus. Vitamins and supplements are also likely to have an effect, often producing urine that is bright yellow, mimicking the colors indicative of dehydration in the slideshow below. Here’s a great color chart to give you some guidelines.

But it’s also possible to drink too much water.
Be careful, is it possible to drink too much water, a condition called “water intoxication.”  The “8 cups or 2 liters” per day recommendation is perfect for some and may be too much or too little for others.  The rule of dividing your body weight in half (for pounds) and drinking that number of ounces per day can similarly lead to over-hydration for many people especially anyone who is overweight.

In hot weather, with intense or lengthy exercise drinking just water can be dangerous.  The body also needs electrolytes like sodium to help maintain blood volume and pressure.  Too much water without enough salt can lead to serious complications and even death as the sodium levels in the blood become diluted.  This is why during a juice only Reboot it’s important to be sure and drink electrolyte rich fluids like coconut water in addition to juices and plain water.

It’s also important to sip fluids throughout the day and try to avoid chugging large amounts of water upon waking or later in the day if you notice you’re behind in your water intake.  Drinking too much too fast has also been fatal.

Water is only part of what will hydrate you to meet your fluid needs.  As much as 20% of total daily water intake is from foods. Fluids found in fruits, vegetables, liquid foods like soups, smoothies and of course juice all count. Even tea and coffee with caffeine can count according to some sources.

This summer while you’re out enjoying some fun in the sun, stay hydrated and be sure to reach for an electrolyte rich refreshing beverage too!

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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