We’ve long been told that hydration is the key to maintaining a healthy mind and body, with studies recommending we drink up to 15 glasses of water per day.
But while guzzling down the fluids keeps your skin, immune system and energy levels in check, experts warn it may be actually be doing more harm than good.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, Dr. Stephanie Long, a family practitioner with One Medical in San Francisco, says there’s a right and wrong way to consume water.
“When we need more water, our body has detected we have a lot of salt,” she explains.
This is controlled by the sodium levels in the body, which significantly increase during a workout.
Instead of chugging water to quench this thirst, Long recommends simply listening to your body.
She claims small amounts are more than adequate for rehydration, even after intense bouts of exercise.
“There is an interplay between your brain and body that tells you not to drink more,” she says.
Drinking too much often means people need to urinate more, which in extreme cases can lead to problems for the heart and kidneys.
Chugging water can also cause a large intake of air into the body. This is called hyponatremia, with nausea, vomiting and muscle weakness all common symptoms.
Thankfully, it takes a lot of fluid to get to this stage.
“It is more of a problem for kiddos and people on an illegal substance,” Long says.
So, how much is too much?
Typically, Long recommends people drink to their baseline – 3 litres for men and a little over 2 litres for women - and then top up whatever is depleted at a regular pace throughout the day.
However, these numbers could differ depending on the size of the person and how physically active they are.
One way to know if you’ve had too much too quickly is to monitor your toilet trips.
“When you go to the bathroom really frequently, your water balloon (bladder) decides it doesn’t want to blow up as much,” Long says.