You hear it all the time.
Drink more water!
There’s a lot of advice on the internet about hydration. It’s so important for us to hydrate and make sure that we are getting enough water to support all our bodily functions such as regulating our body temperature and flushing out waste.
I hear so much about dehydration but not much about overhydration.
Because of this heavy focus on getting in your 8 glasses of water a day, those with a health-nut mindset (like yours truly!) may have a tendency to go overboard.
I have been paranoid about not getting enough water especially because I’ve had problems with constipation. And I do always feel somewhat dehydrated and have dry skin.
One of the most common things you hear from well-meaning people wanting to help solve these kinds of problems is, “Maybe you just need to drink more water.”
Ok. Let’s Hydrate!
I always carry my Klean Kanteen around. I would fill it up a couple of times a day and also drink my herbal tea.
No bowel movement changes and no other benefits that I could see. I felt the same.
Maybe I still wasn’t drinking enough?
So, I decided to try out a water tracking app. These are really helpful to give you a visual and an approximate number of ounces you drink in a day.
You just choose if you’re male or female and how much you weigh and then the app gives you a target to reach every day.
This app said I need to drink about 65 ounces a day.
I was amazed that even though I thought I was drinking a lot of water every day I really needed this reminder every couple of hours in order to reach the goal. But I found that it was around the amount I was already drinking
After about 3 months of doing pretty well with the app – although I saw no changes in my gut motility – I decided to try a different water tracker.
This one said I should aim for 74 ounces of water.
I went with it for a couple of days and my pee became clear.
Is pee supposed to be clear?
I do remember people in the past telling me that it’s supposed to be clear and others telling me it’s supposed to be pale yellow. In health and nutrition, there doesn’t ever seem to be consensus!
I kept at it.
One night, before getting into bed I found myself feeling a little sick and waterlogged. You know that feeling you got when you were a kid that just never wanted to stop swimming and come out of the water? I felt it in my lungs.
That night I woke up with the biggest calf-cramp/charlie horse of my entire life! I struggled to get up out of bed to get my foot flat on the floor for some relief.
What a rude 2 AM awakening!
How was I cramping up when I was drinking more water than ever?
Some of you probably already saw what I was doing wrong. I was taking in a lot of water and diluting all the important electrolytes I had in circulation such as:
- sodium (this one is the most important when it comes to overhydration)
This is what is part of what’s missing (we’ll get to the other part in a sec) from the “drink more water” conversation.
If you’re drinking more water and not getting your electrolytes you are overhydrating and drowning your cells. It’s overwhelming your system.
There are some really serious consequences to overhydration but thankfully it was only a feeling of slight nausea, a yucky lung feeling, and a nasty leg cramp.
Athletes are more prone to overhydration when competing and this is why sports drinks were created.
More serious symptoms of overhydration include:
- muscle cramps or spasms
I’m thankful for that leg cramp that came to warn me in the middle of the night!
Give Your Kidneys A Break!
Our kidneys are filtering all the blood pumping through our bodies every hour!
That’s a lot of work!
And their job becomes too taxing when you’re giving it more fluid than they can handle. That’s when you become overhydrating.
And one side effect of this is clear pee.
So, no. Pee isn’t supposed to be clear.
If your pee is clear this means that there is too much water in your blood and your kidneys are working overtime trying to maintain water and electrolyte balance as well as detoxify your blood. This can mess with your body’s ability to regulate its temperature as well!
So How Much Water Should I Drink?
Well, I was following the guidelines but that amount was obviously too high for me. Everyone is different and there are too many factors to take into consideration: activity level, diet, age, the elevation where you live, any underlying conditions you may have, or medication you’re taking… the list goes on.
So let’s drop trying to be super scientific about this.
Humans have been living on the planet for quite a long time and we never had strict guidelines for hydration.
Do you know what we do have?
Our bodies tell us when we’re thirsty!
Now, I understand that over the years we may have dulled our senses by suppressing our feelings and urges by putting other “higher” priorities before our needs.
This has to change.
We need to start really listening to the wisdom of the body.
This is what is never talked about!
It may take some retraining at first, but our bodies know what we need. It’s just about attuning ourselves to them more closely. A lot of us have dissociated from our bodies and put them on the backburner while focusing more on work, obligations, and distractions.
Meditations may help you put more of your focus on your body and its needs throughout the day. Try out a bunch and see what works for you.
No, Pee Is Not Supposed To Be Clear
When it comes to overhydration we have to start thinking about our electrolytes, our poor overworked kidneys, and listening to what our bodies really need.
I’ve been listening to when my body is actually thirsty rather than what some app tells me based on guidelines that don’t apply to everyone.
Dehydration can be serious, but so can overhydration.
It’s also important to know that you can become overhydrated by increasing your water intake by too much or it’s possible that your body is retaining water for another reason. If that’s the case make sure you check in with a health professional to see if there is an underlying condition that may be contributing to water retention.
So is the color of your urine something you notice? It’s actually an important health indicator so check it out next time you’re in the bathroom! If it’s dark yellow or brown that is dehydration. If it’s clear and colorless, that overhydration. Look out for pale yellow. That’s what you want!
Listen to your body if you feel thirsty. And take the early sign of overhydration seriously when you see colorless urine in the toilet!