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Fact Checked

When social media blows up hazards of drinking water

Published on January 6, 2022

Some studies suggest that consuming eight glasses of water per day is ideal for a healthy individual, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

By Tej Kumar

A viral Instagram reels video claims that drinking more than three litres of water is dangerous to health. The video has garnered more than 11 million views. While there is a grain of truth in the claims made, there is little scientific evidence to recommend that overconsumption of water is a serious health hazard for most people.

Experts agree that drinking too much water can lead to hyponatremia, wherein sodium levels in the blood plasma become too low. However, it’s rare and usually affects endurance athletes, people certain health conditions, such as thyroid, kidney, liver, or heart problems, and those taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opiate pain medications, and some antidepressants.

“Some studies suggest that consuming eight glasses of water per day is ideal for a healthy individual, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” notes Dr Narayan Prasad, Professor and Head of the Department of Nephrology at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow and Hon. Secretary, Indian Society of Nephrology.

The Indian Council of Medical Research’s recommendation of daily intake of eight glasses of water (1.6-2 litres), for instance, is made for the average male, weighing 65 kg and the average woman, weighing 55 kg. The requirements vary depending on one’s age, body size, gender, environment and level of physical activity.

That said, it’s true that an increased water intake translates to further loss of electrolytes (chemicals that regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity and pressure, and help rebuild damaged tissue). However, consuming less water is not the solution.

“Less consumption of water means more stress to your kidneys. Similarly, drinking more water than what the body actually needs also puts kidneys under stress as they need to filter more quantity. A healthy human body is good at regulating itself. So, it’s best to listen to your body and drink water when you feel thirsty,” says Dr Narayan Prasad.

The ideal water intake differs from person to person. Also, consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables could mean a higher intake of water from foods; it’s not just about the water you drink. In case you are unsure about the right amount for you, it’s best to check with your doctor.

Don’t fall prey to misinformation on social media. Get your facts right with First Check.