In the summer heat there is a definite need for the body to be hydrated, but is too much water bad for you? The short answer is yes. Too much water can result in a flushing effect of the much needed electrolytes and salt stores in the body resulting in a condition called over- hydration or hyponatremia, a kind of water inebriation where over diluted and much needed minerals are unable to be properly used by the body. Symptoms can be serious and range from a sense of confusion, bloating, that could be mistaken for dehydration, but could cause seizures, and even organ failure. Although rare, if salt and electrolyte levels in the body become too low, death is a possibility.
Electrolytes is a word we hear a lot about and many drinks containing electrolytes are available, especially marketed for sports but during times of heat waves, most people can benefit from healthy drinks containing electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals (potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, chloride and bicarbonates) that actually hold electrical charges that stimulate nerves in communication with cells that help regulate healthy muscle functions and are absolutely essential for a body to thrive. In order for our brains to function well these delicate balances must be maintained.
An important thing to remember is the the body does not sweat pure water, sweat is a release of our minerals and salt levels as well.
While parents of young children and our senior population may think water is enough to keep the body safe from dehydration, it turns out it isn’t. So how much water is too much? The general recommended amount in 8 -8 ounce amounts a day and for some men, that amount can be upped to 12. According to a blog called the Outdoor Herbivore depending on the activity, and temperature a person can loose 1 Litre an hour when outdoors and regular sport drinks that include electrolytes may not actually be replacing the amount of electrolytes already lost.
Banana, dates, raisins, coconut, avocado,spinach, beans, lentils, and potato are great sources of electrolytes and bananas are also a great source of potassium. The trick to a healthy summer is to be sure to eat the foods that contain electrolytes, not flush out the “good stuff” by drinking too much water and be sure to watch for the symptoms of over-hydration.