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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Death by water

"A Californian woman has died after taking part in a water-drinking contest, but why is too much water dangerous? We are regularly advised to drink more water: it clears skin, reduces tiredness and aids concentration. But the death of a woman in the US after taking part in a water-drinking contest shows you can have too much of a good thing."

Gary comments:
While this story is a little dated the message is as relevant today as it was when it first came out.  Whenever there is money to made from a health message, such as "Drink more water" or "Eat 99% fat free" we must be careful to filter what is really healthy within the message from the distortions created by profit-driven marketeers.  We can also extend this filter to include advocacy organisations that receive much of their funding from commercial interests, such as asthma drug manufacturers, anti-arthritis drugs or sun-screen.

These commercial pressures may cause guidelines to be skewed to far over to the side of excess of prescription and be a cause of resistance to change or moderation in the face of mounting evidence such as that "Less is More".

Water is essential for life as is fat, protein, sugar, vitamin C and iron to name just a few; but too much of any of these health-giving items and they can become a lethal poison.   One of the base principles of health prescrition is to give the minumum dose that gives the maximum benefit.  Commercial interests should not play any part in the decision making process to determine what is optimal for a therapy or health measure, such as advising how much water one needs to drink to be healthy.

Just how much water does a person need to be healthy?  Very little, from my experience.  For some, its a few cups a day; for others it may be several liters.  A disproportionate number of the the people who consult me about chronic health issues drink far more water than they need to be healthy.  

The best way to work out how much water you need each day is best done by measuring hydration each day, including before and after exercise, using a set of Salter 9106 scales.  I am selling these scales at almost 50% the price they are sold in most stores.  This is because I want my clients to have these so that they can share their body composition details with me no matter where they live, thus enabling me to give them meaningful advice and guidance.

For more information about hydration, please read my articles here.
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