Are you an aquaholic?
With the back-to-nature movement of the 1970’s came a whole slough of New Age health prescriptions. One of those was the blanket recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water a day. While drinking more water can help greatly to improve health, drinking too much water can actually be hurting many.
Many now carry their bottle of water with them everywhere they go. They are sure to drink their daily equivalent of 8 glasses of water whether they’re not thirsty or not. Some of these folks now qualify as aquaholics who are visibly disturbed when they are deprived of their water fix.
The truth of the matter is that drinking too much water on a daily basis can be quite harmful to the body – especially when ingested in the form of tainted tap water. Ayurvedic medicine admonishes us to eat only when hungry and drink only when thirsty. Ayurveda also teaches the importance of maintaining a strong digestive fire. The easiest way to put out a fire is to pour water on it; therefore, the digestive fire will also be diminished when drinking too much water or beverage.
The daily dousing of the digestive fire with 8 glasses of water will eventually give rise to a whole host of health problems, some of them serious. That is because the proper digestion and assimilation of our food is perhaps the single greatest determinant of our health.
Again, according to Ayurveda, the vast majority of medical conditions find their source in the creation of ama. Ama is the “toxic byproduct generated due to improper or incomplete digestion.” Ice water in particular is known for adversely affecting the normal digestive process which then creates ama.
There is no quicker way to upset proper digestion than to regularly introduce copious amounts of water into the stomach. The natural digestive enzyme secretions in the stomach and small intestine are affected in such a way so as to diminish their potency. Likewise, the normal hydrochloric acid production in the stomach is also altered for the worse. Drinking too much fluid with the meal is therefore never recommended.
The long-term practice of drinking 8 glasses of water per day will inevitably create more ama in the system for these reasons. If this waste product is not systematically removed by the body’s primary detoxification pathways, various health conditions will eventually arise.
Are You an Aquaholic?
A recent headline read:
“Are you an aquaholic? Doctors are always advising us to drink more water but in fact drinking too much can be even worse….”
The article went on to list a number of different health issues which can arise from extreme water intake. As follows:
- Hyperhidrosis - Drinking too much water can lead to chronic and excessive sweating.
- Insomnia - Drinking water later in the day will cause increased urination during the night and disrupt sleep.
- Water intoxication - Also known as water poisoning , it occurs when the normal electrolyte balance is upset. Dilution hyponatremia is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside safe limits by over-hydration
These more serious medical conditions which result from over-hydration are due primarily to water retention. Each of the following can be caused or aggravated by drinking too much water.
- Liver disease (cirrhosis)
- Kidney problems
- Congestive heart failure
- Syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone (SIADH) 
The involvement of prescription drugs in the process of chronic over-hydration and/or water retention is another factor that is often overlooked. There are many medications which have ingredients which can cause water retention. Consulting the side effects and contraindications of any over-the-counter drugs and prescription meds is highly recommended in any case.
There is both a science and an art of drinking water. Given the importance of water to the human body, it is necessary for each individual to assess their own unique needs. Since a properly hydrated body is critical to maintain optimal health, over-hydration should be recognized as a threat to good health just as dehydration is.