You are here

Why Drinking Too Much Water Can Be Harmful To Your Health

On January 12, 2007, a 28-year old Californian wife and mother of three children died from drinking too much water. Her body was found in her home shortly after she took part in a water-drinking contest that was sponsored by a local radio show. Entitled "Hold Your Wee For A Wii," the contest promoters promised a free Wii video game machine to the contestant who drank the most water without urinating.

It is estimated that the woman who died drank approximately 2 gallons of water during the contest. When she and other contestants complained of discomfort and showed visible signs of distress, they were laughed at by the promoters and even heckled.

This tragic news story highlights the importance of understanding why drinking too much water can be dangerous to your health.

Whenever you disregard your sense of thirst and strive to ingest several glasses of water a day just because you have been told that doing so is good for your health, you actually put unnecessary strain on your body in two major ways:

  1. Ingesting more water than you need can increase your total blood volume. And since your blood volume exists within a closed system (your circulatory system), needlessly increasing your blood volume on a regular basis puts unnecessary burden on your heart and blood vessels.

  2. Your kidneys must work overtime to filter excess water out of your circulatory system. Your kidneys are not the equivalent of a pair of plumbing pipes whereby the more water you flush through your kidneys, the cleaner they become; rather, the filtration system that exists in your kidneys is composed in part by a series of specialized capillary beds called glomeruli. Your glomeruli can get damaged by unnecessary wear and tear over time, and drowning your system with large amounts of water is one of many potential causes of said damage.

Putting unnecessary burden on your cardiovascular system and your kidneys by ingesting unnecessary water is a subtle process. For the average person, it is virtually impossible to know that this burden exists, as there are usually no obvious symptoms on a moment-to-moment basis. But make no mistake about it: this burden is real and can hurt your health over the long term.

Forcing your body to accept a large amount of water within a short period of time - say, an hour or two - as several contestants did during the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest can be fatally dangerous to your health. Here's why:

If you force large amounts of water into your system over a short period of time, your kidneys will struggle to eliminate enough water from your system to keep the overall amount at a safe level.

As your circulatory system becomes diluted with excess water, the concentration of electrolytes in your blood will drop relative to the concentration of electrolytes in your cells. In an effort to maintain an equal balance of electrolytes between your blood and your cells, water will seep into your cells from your blood, causing your cells to swell.

If this swelling occurs in your brain, you'll experience increased intracranial pressure i.e. your brain will get squeezed because the flat bones that make up your skull don't provide much give. Depending on how much water your drink in a short period of time, you could experience a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from a mild headache to impaired breathing. As occurred in the tragic water-drinking contest, it's quite possible to die if you drink enough water in a short period of time.

This information is particularly important for parents to pass on to their children. Foolish drinking contests are not uncommon among high school and university students, especially while playing cards.

So how much water should you drink to best support your health?

The answer depends on your unique circumstances, including your diet, exercise habits, and environment.

If you eat plenty of foods that are naturally rich in water, such as vegetables, fruits, and cooked legumes and whole grains, you may not need to drink much water at all. If you do not use much or any salt and other seasonings, your need for drinking water goes down even further.

Conversely, if you do not eat a lot of plant foods and/or you add substantial salt and spices to your meals, you may need to drink several glasses of water every day.

Regardless of what your diet looks like, if you sweat on a regular basis because of exercise or a warm climate, you will need to supply your body with more water (through food and/or liquids) than someone who does not sweat regularly.

Ultimately, the best guidance I can provide on this issue is to follow your sense of thirst. Some people believe that thirst is not a reliable indicator of how much water you need, since many people suffer with symptoms related to dehydration and don't seem to feel a need to drink water on a regular basis. My experience has been that most people who are chronically dehydrated have learned to ignore a parched mouth. If you ask such people if they are thirsty and would like a piece of fruit or a glass of water, they will almost always realize that they are indeed thirsty.

Some people suggest observing the color of your urine as a way of looking out for dehydration. The idea is that clear urine indicates that you are well hydrated, while yellow urine indicates that you need more water in your system. While this advice is somewhat useful, it's important to remember that some food additives (including some synthetic nutrients) and heavily pigmented foods (like red beets) can add substantial color to your urine. Thumbs down for synthetic nutrients, and thumbs up for red beets and other richly colored vegetables and fruits.

The main idea that I want to share through this article is to beware of mindlessly drinking several glasses of water per day without considering your diet, exercise habits, climate, and sense of thirst. And when you do find yourself in need of water, remember that you can get it from liquids and/or whole foods that are rich in water.

Please share this article with family and friends, as many people are regularly misinformed on this topic by mainstream media.


Join more than 80,000 readers worldwide who receive Dr. Ben Kim's free newsletter

Receive simple suggestions to measurably improve your health and mobility, plus alerts on specials and giveaways at our catalogue

Please Rate This

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (3005 votes)
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.


I believe you missed one point in this article that more people should realize.

I believe it is probably very common among the obese to eat rather than drink when their mouth gets dry. Eating will temporarily moisturize the mouth with saliva and is my personal cure of choice if I'm not thinking directly about why I am eating. Keeping a bottle of water handy, and conciously reaching for that first when I am tempted to the cupboard or refrigerator has helped me change that and I've lost ten pounds in the last 19 days or so. Can't say if It will make a long term change for me, but I live in hope. Kitty

While I agree with Kitty that many people do turn to food when they get thirsty, mistakenly viewing the nagging need for water as hunger, I think she is being quite judgmental to single out overweight people in this. This is a common reaction in many people of differing weights and body sizes and does not in itself cause overweight. Congratulations to her for having lost some extra pounds through substituting water for food and being more aware of her need for water, but to make the statement that obese people eat when thirsty rather than drinking is an ignorant judgment based on opinion.


You should not take some people's words personally. My point of view is that Kitty was referring to herself when she spoke of obese people. I, too, am obese and she's right. I am inclined to satisfy my thirst with food and when I drink water instead, I feel so much better emotionally and physically. Sorry, Sharon. I think Kitty was provided a much-needed service to obese or even slightly overweight people everywhere. Thanks, Kitty.

Critical words just reflect one thing.The person who is critical is just prone to criticise and has this inclination to be negative rather than emphasizing on the positives

As I understood Kitty's remarks about overweight people turning to food when a drink of water would sometime serve to curb the appatite, I agree with her 100 percent, and I don't think she meant that ONLY overweight people do this, but the obvious truth is that overweight people are overweight because they eat more than they burn. Eating to satisfy thurst is just one of many reasons why some of us over eat, but it is a biggie. The remark by Sharon and I quote: "but to make the statement that obese people eat when thirsty rather than drinking is an ignorant judgment based on opinion. Sharon" If Sharon will read this I think she will realize that was a rude statement, as the word IGNORANT just does not apply here, since it is true in many cases. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and she proved she was right by becoming concious of the fact and changing her habit.

I myself believe this is where your wrong Dixie & Kitty. I SO disagree with you both. I'm VERY MUCH overweight & I get lectures from all kinds of doctors I see for the first time. I hardly eat at all (which I get yelled at by family members for this). I don't eat the wrong foods either when I do eat, nor do I have a thyroid problem, or diabetes, or any other medical issues (except I'm thirsty & I love water) to cause me to be overweight. The problem IS I drink way too much water all the time instead of eating so I'm full all the time (thus why I don't eat much). This causes me not to eat much if at all; so when I do eat even though I eat healthy my body stores it as fat because my body doesn't know when it's going to get food again. This problem of drinking so so much water has caused edema to set in and I HAVE to take a water pill everyday so I don't drowned myself.
So people like you and everyone else that stereotype OVERWEIGHT (some of you even call us plain FAT) need to quit behav'n like you know everything about everybody. YOU BOTH NOR anyone else knows what if anything is wrong or not wrong with an overweight person that you might run into on the street, in a store, mall, restaurant, etc...
People like you and everyone else that stereotypes make me SICK.
So to Sharon I thank you for what you have said.
God bless to all. Good night.


Have you been tested for diabetes?
excessive thirst is a symptom adn so can be loss of appetite - directly or indirectly ...

I also have seen MANY people present with normal glucose readings when a single test is done (ie. fasting all night until an a.m. appointment at the doctors.) I have found it far more effective in detecting diabetes with a 12 hour fasting glucose test. With most insurance companies and clinics or private docs, this is often a struggle to get, but I urge you to have the test done or visit with a Integrative or Naturopathic provider that understands the importance of this test. Beyond that, I also urge you to see Dr. Kim's comments and others who can help you to reverse diabetes (especially Type II) with proper nutrition ...

Sunshine, i am glad you posted this comment because i feel you may be the type of person that this article was directed towards. The entire article is about balance. It is pointing out that we shouldnt be mindlessly just drinking water, nor should we be mindlessly eating. It is about being fully aware of how much and of what you are ingesting, and how by doing so you can lead a healthy lifestyle. You are an example of the problem with drinking too much water, hopefully this article has helped you to lead a more balanced lifestyle, because i feel as though that was the point in all of this. Too much or too little of anything is never good, its all about balance

I just drink when I am thirsty. If I am not thirsty then I don't drink anything. I have always drank low fat milk and my body must be pulling the water from the milk because I am very healthy.

The only problem with waiting until your thirsty is if, like me, you lost your thirst from forgetting to drink water like I did in the 80's. I would play full court basketball for a few hours each day and then I would not drink out of the fountain at the gym because I knew it was not filtered water and then I would forget to drink when I got home and then I would eat dinner and have a glass of wine and go to bed. I never realized that I was dehydrated until I had my blood checked for something else and it was obvious due to the lack of distance between my blood cells that I was seriously dehydrated!

I'm sorry but, your GP either doesn't know what they're talking about or no one wants to tell you the truth because you can't handle it.
You are CORRECT about starvation, when the body is starved it will hold onto more of the energy inputted than say a person who eats regularly/healthily and exercises regularly. This is why athletes eat very regularly.
But, if you eat "not much at all" and your body as a result turns all of or enough of this to make you overweight, into fat, then where does the energy needed for your bodies basic day-to-day functions come from? Water? nope.
If what you're saying were true then it would be technically impossible to starve!
I appreciate that drinking water may have caused other health problems for you and it saddens me to read this. But blaming excessive water consumption for overweightness is complete cr*p. I've been obese myself twice now in my life, no longer I am glad to report, and never again, and I'm willing to admit it was because I was greedy and ate the wrong/too much of the wrong types of food.
I hope your health problems have improved since 2010.

Your health issues aren't necessarily her health issues. Granted, it sounds like drinking too much water is a sign of some underlying health issue and she should be willing to look into it further.

However, just because YOU ate too much and ate the wrong types of food doesn't mean that she does the same thing. Not everyone's body chemistry is the same, and you can't assume that she's lying just because her experience as a bigger person is different than yours.

Most people get OBESE eating a surplus of calories, then eat a maintenance level of calories which lets them KEEP the weight they have gained, then LIE about not eating much or are incorrect in assuming their calorie intake is accurate, in the end it takes a calorie deficit to get them in awesome physical shape.

Dear Sunshine!
Please have a look at Andreas Moritz and Dr. Robert Cassar (you are what you eat, drink and breathe) on youtube and Arnold Ehret's mucusless diet healing system,book which only costs 4,95$ that helped me a lot. Also consider if you have root canals, mercury or other poison intake through so-called healthy food. The body stores toxins in fat cells (and elsewhere) and Andreas Moritz explains better about edema.
Wishing you all the best, Do!

Thank you Sunshine for your post: I can relate to your condition you spoke of having. My food intake most of the time is very little. I have tried doing the breakfast, lunch and supper meals and it doesn't work for me. I just don't get hungry like most people say they do. I have at times noticed that I can sip on a big cup of coffee all day and not get hungry, but I make myself eat something either at breakfast, lunch or supper time to keep from feeling weak. I do drink water or powdered milk when I am not drinking coffee. I have to watch my sodium intake all the time. I was taking water pills years ago and having to do caths to relieve my body of all the water it stores up. I took myself off of all of it because my body suffered the side effects of all the loop diuretics and the effects bottomed out my potassium, and infection from the caths. I have had bad results from diuretics and different kinds. And having to be hospitalized many times because my body didn't get rid of the water build up fast enough ( but my kidneys by all test are working great)and to be given potassium in the veins because of all the diuretics. (I do not wish this on anyone) Doctors have been baffled by my condition specialist and all. Walking for exercise only causes my feet and legs to swell even more. I do exercises laying on the bed. I am overweight alot but only immobile when feet and legs are swollen. I have no high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid problem or heart problems ect.. I was told from the mayo clinic that my body not only stores my water intake but also absorbs in water from my baths and showers I take so I have to limit the amount of time of each. Im sure they are others out there like us but you are the first one I have seen posted. God Bless You!

Sunshine, I am a nurse practioner working for a nephrologist and I can guarantee that nobody at the actual Mayo Clinic told you that you are absorbing water through bathing, unless you are drinking the bathwater or injecting it. The skin is an impermeable membrane and it is impossible for water to enter your tissues across the skin. Your assertion is utterly ludicrous.

Many, many things can cause your edema, such as congestive heart failure, liver or kidney failure, hypothyroidism, histamine disorders, protein deficiencies, poor diet, allergies, lack of excercise, lymphatic disease, and more. Your lack of appetite can have dozens of causes, some physiological, others psychiatric. Your body has thousands of elegant feedback mechanisms, receptors, etc, and any of them may be damaged or defective. And many of them can be rendered useless by psychiatric disorders. I suggest you get a complete physical at a reputable clinic or hospital from a medical doctor. Ask for referrals to specialists if your initial practioner is stumped. And do not ignore or be offended by the possibility that your problems might have a psychiatric origin. The brain can exert powerful and unpredictable influences on almost everything the body does. Good luck.

Weigh yourself before and after taking a shower or bath.

You will get maybe a cup or two from bathing, nothing more.You have to trust me as I HAVE tested all these methods out of curiosity being formerly HEAVY and working around elite athletes and every day joes too. I'd suggest reading books by the dozens and having a broader base of knowledge (I'm talking to myself and you). Like every person here, if you were a prisoner of war, you'd lose weight (I hear people say " I barely eat and gain weight ") unless you're a superhero OR have a medical condition, you're going to lose weight under the proper guidance and application.

Actually Santina, that is incorrect to say that skin is impermeable. What causes "wrinkles" after a long bath? Why do dead bodies left in water swell up?

I think you should know this if you really are a nurse.

I do believe that skin is impregnable, just think about all the swimmer; - would they go into the water to take a few laps and came out with all swelled up? Your example of the wrinkled skin proves my point, if it had taken water in, it would be swelled up instead of getting wrinkled! For your other example, dead bodies tend to swell up because cells/tissues are breaking up, producing gas! I like facts, or opinion based or supported by facts.

Why do fingers and toes wrinkle in the bathtub?
The outermost layer of the skin swells when it absorbs water. It is tightly attached to the skin underneath, so it compensates for the increased area by wrinkling. However, new research is investigating the role of digital vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) of water immersion wrinkling of the skin.There are various theories of why fingers and toes wrinkle in water. Most biologists suggest that the tough outer layer of skin made up of dead keratin cells is responsible. Keratin is a protein found in hair, nails, and the outermost layer of our skin.

Our skin is made up of three layers:

•The subcutaneous tissue is the deepest layer. It contains fats and connective tissue along with large blood vessels and nerves.
•The dermis is the middle layer. It contains the blood vessels, nerves, hair roots, and sweat glands.
•The epidermis is the topmost layer. It helps to prevent evaporation of water from the body and to protect the internal layers from harm.
The epidermis is made up of four layers:

•the stratum corneum
•granular layer
•squamous cell layer
•and basal cell layer
The stratum corneum is the outer layer of our skin - the part that we can see and feel. This is the layer with the dead keratin cells.

While a person is in the pool or a bathtub for a long time, the dead keratin cells absorb water. This absorption causes the surface area of the skin to swell, but the outer layer is tightly attached to the living tissue. So, to compensate for the increased surface area, our skin wrinkles.

So why does this happen to hands and feet and not to other parts of the body? Because the hands and feet have the thickest layer of dead keratin cells. Our hands and feet are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Imagine if the palm of our hands had skin as thin as that on our backs. No fun playing basketball with skin that thin!

Scientists continue to look for the exact mechanisms of why our fingers and toes wrinkle when immersed in water (Wilder-Smith et al, Hsieh et al). One theory gaining recognition is the role of digital vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). When hands are immersed in water it seems that the nerve fibers are triggered to “shrink” and glomus bodies (body temperature regulators in the skin) in the hand lose volume, which then pulls the skin structures downwards to produce wrinkling. Studies on patients with loss of nerve function in their hands due to a disorder or replantation of amputated fingers exhibit no or slight wrinkling in the fingers when immersed in water (Hsieh et al). As the nerve functions return, so did the wrinkling.

If your skin were not elastic and water tight you would leak goofy. ;)

GEEZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!! This is supposed to be a helpful forum, not full of insults. Everyone experiences things differently, why not be open to others opins on what works for them.

First time visitor

Hello, its 2016 and I'm wondering if you've been diagnosed with diabetes? Or another medical condition that makes you retain water since you barely eat.

i just have to say that people can be overweight for many reasons. Food my not have anything to do with it. I have chronic fatigue. I had shoulder surgery and leading up to and after i gained a lot of weight. Not because i was eating stuff bad for me. because the pain and lack of sleep caused my metabolism to slow down. i know why I am over weight and until i get the pain and sleep under control it will stay the same. it astounds me that not only Drs but co-workers assume I'm not eating correctly. When my health report comes back tat everything is ok, everyone seems surprised!!!! I suggest that everyone quit judging and try helping others!!!! just because I'm overweight doesn't mean I over eat or eat unhealthy. I can tell you most people see my lunch & snacks and say they don't like fresh fruits or vegetables or anything healthy for them. I make all my meals from scratch & nourish my body the best I can. to those saying that obesity has to do with overeating needs to take a good look @ themselves before judging others!!!!

K. Novak I was told the same thing about my weight gain. I was in pain and I was not sleeping and they told me That not sleeping was the main cause. So every person is person is different. Thank you for sharing, and also to those who retain a lot of water, I have this problem too. Mine started after a injury to my neck and back. I had a lot of water around the injury that was close to my spinal cord. I retained in my arms, chest, back and shoulders. We are all different so plz don't judge we are all different. Than no you all for your opinions.

hello,sharon i have heard of people feeling hungry for food, when all the body really needs is water.............

I would add that when I don't drink a lot of water, I enjoy eating the last half of my plate, whereas when I am drinking plenty of water, I feel like the last half of my restaurant portion would just feel "in the way". I don't think this is direct, via the water providing extra volume, so much as indirect, through physiological changes that occur that also allow me to handle longer exercise periods.

I agree with you Sharon.

Why not comment on a comment without being rude and judgemental yourself?

Some speak about "obese people" like a "hoard of cows" with the same problems.
I think every obese person is different from the other. Although being overweight is a problem obese persons have in common, their needs and behavior with food is different.

Slender people believe we all overeat when actually some O.P. undereat. If being normal allows you to have 2000 cal a day, an obese
can be on a 1200 cal a day diet and gain weight if that person eats
1600 cal one day.

As far as water is concerned, I just dont know what to do anymore!
I, therefore, will cary on drinking my liter a day of pure water.

Signed: a pretty obese woman

It may be that you are not getting enough sleep, vegetables, fruit, beans, lean meat, etc. Vegetables should be number 1 followed by fruit, then meat/beans. Find the ones you like, then force yourself to like a few more if you only like 1-2 vegetables. Open yourself to heavy food, otherwise you're sunk.

Cut out everything that is crap, literally crap : candy, everything processed like pizza rolls, coffee/pop/commercial teas, donuts, cookies, sweeteners, any fast-food restaurant(Subway being exception with over-roasted chicken/no added sauces, not toasted, 9-grain bread, etc.

Make sure you are exercising. You need muscle mass by either weightlifting, or lifting objects around your house as you clean. Cardio is overdone, and does not do as much good for you as lean muscle from weightlifting/cleaning, and you cannot overpower your bad diet with exercising, period.

Trust me. This is coming from someone who has yo-yo-ed 3 times, and its because I was greedy, and did not fully know that the food industry does not care if I am healthy at all. All they want is profits.

I've gained weight since starting to drink more water. I almost always drink water first before thinking to eat, but I am still overweight. I know when I am thirsty and I don't eat instead of drinking.

When I didn't drink as much water as I do now, I did not substitute food to wet my mouth. I ate when I was hungry or bored. I drank water when my mouth was dry.

Also, I rarely ever drink anything other than water so you can't blame my weight gain on drinking sugary fluid.

Your statement:
I've gained weight since starting to drink more water. I almost always drink water first before thinking to eat, but I am still overweight.

My Comment:
You should only drink water 30 mins or more before and after meal. Because water can actualy dilute your digestive enzyme. Let your saliva and all those insides you do the digesting stuffs. Because your drinking and eating time-gap is so closed, that's why you dont digest properly. The result is you gain weight or having other digestive problems.

I am the first to admit my own problem with eating too much. So many times I have read, read, and read some more to learn how to improve my diet. And I am well versed on preaching about the rights and wrongs on eating healthy. But all the knowledge in the world won't get you there. It might make you keep trying. But the problem is that most yummy food is addictive. And if you try just one food, you end up coughing down a lot more and becoming addicted. I have lost weight and gained it so many times. I have been on a bodybuilding kick where i gained alot of muscle and became thin. But I eventually went back.

But one thing that never changes is that I love to drink water. I prefer it. There are times when I need to stand in front of the fridge and drink three or four glasses of it. But most times I drink a small glass every hour or two. And it matters where it comes from as well. That should be a focus in this topic. Not all water is equal and some of it is even dangerous anyway. Studies have found arsenic, feces, and other garbage in bottled water labeled "Spring".

okay whole foods could be a great way to get your water intake if you think you need to eat.that way you can do two things at once,eat and rehydrate.but to be safe you can drink some water 15min. before you eat that way your food intake is less or even non at all.

Everybody's body is different. Obviously 8 glasses of water wouldn't have the same effect on a 100 pound adult compared to a 200 pound adult and so on... So needless to say, some people don't need as much as others and vice versa. I was told to take YOUR WEIGHT, divide that in HALF, and that's how many ounces you should be drinking daily. AT LEAST. So if you weight 250 pounds, you should be drinking 125 ounces of water.. It makes more sense that way than assuming every body is the same and requires the same amount of water daily.

I use to drink 6 to 8 litre water a day. My doctor asked me to consume 2.5 to 3 litre water in a day. I have tried many times to reduce water quantity but failed :(

Has your doctor checked you for diabetes?? My brother in law was dealing with excessive thirst and ended up being diagnosed with late onset Type 1 diabetes.

JeanneMarie is right, for many safety reasons you should go to a doctor to check for diabetes. On the other hand, I also drink a large amount of water daily but I have a normal body weight (not sure if that really effects it) with no medical problems. Despite naturally drinking a large amount of water, it does not mean anything is wrong with you, just you like to drink a lot of water. Just beware that if you go to the bathroom and your urine is very clear (little or no color/odor), you must stop drinking so much water or risk painful or deadly side-effects.

I drink over 5 -- 16 oz bottled waters per day. In the last 2 yrs i have lost over 60 lbs. When i get overhungry i just reach into the refridgerator for a flavored bottle water. I feel healthier and know water is most of what a human body is composed of.

First off, I would like to state that this was a great article, not many people know that excessive water consumption can be fatal.
With that said, I will offer my own experience with water in terms of weight loss:
I spent several years dieting and exercising and doing my best to avoid high calorie foods yet supply my body with the recommended daily vitamins, minerals, and calories. I did very well and lost over 100 lbs just by drinking a few glasses of water a day and eating whole foods and exercising but then I hit a plateau became very discouraged and soon returned to my processed foods and diet soda after going back to college (for a second time at age 29). My schedule and finances are a complete mess as anyone who has tried to pay their own way through college can tell you. With my current schedule, it's hard to find time to use the bathroom let alone take proper care of myself and so I really let my physical health go.
I hit bottom this Summer, I was drinking in upwards of 2 liters of diet soda a day, 3 cups of coffee, and eating frozen or boxed processed foods. Throughout that process I had managed to gain back over 50 lbs and if that weren't enough, I started smoking again, about a pack every 2-3 days. I can look back over that now and see that I was reaching for things which would provide quick energy fixes that were cheap, satisfying and accessible. I felt miserable, just getting from A to B felt like a struggle, I felt swollen and bloated and extremely constipated and like I was winded and couldn't breathe. I suffered from depression, didn't want to be seen, and my clothes did not fit.
Then, I came upon a water diet news story and thought, well it doesn't cost me anything to try this, why not?
So I began drinking about a gallon of water a day and completely did away with my diet soda habit but noticed something very strange. I only wanted 1 cup of coffee in the morning (often times just half a cup), I started craving healthy whole foods, not greasy and salty stuff, and cigarettes tasted and smelled absolutely disgusting to me. My intention was to simply increase my water intake to what sounded like an excessive amount but in the process I've quit smoking after only wanting 3-4 a day, and I have to force myself to eat 1,900 calories a day, I genuinely no longer feel the need to emotionally eat when stressed and feel like my memory and cognitive functioning have improved 100 fold. My joints feel well lubricated and no longer inflamed, the psoriasis on my hands has nearly cleared, and my skin looks like it did 10 years ago. In addition, I've lost 32 lbs. and counting in the past month alone. Normally, I would never dream of losing this much weight this quickly but I feel 1,000 times better. My digestive problems have cleared, no more frequent heartburn, gas, or painful bowel movements, no more dizzy spells, and I sleep very soundly, no more tossing and turning all night. No more bouts of depression and my clothes fit again.
So I would have to definitely weigh in in favor of drinking a gallon of water a day for a male who is 6'3" tall. It has completely turned my life around and hasn't cost me more than a 1 gallon jug of water that I refill each morning. I should add that I sweat a lot, always have even since a child so there could be something to that. My brothers and everyone in my family seem to sweat a great deal as well. I don't believe that we release the same amounts of fluid within a given day, this should be accounted for when you're trying to figure out what is best for your own personal health. We each are really very, very different in these respects. As a human race we have managed to thrive in just about any climate across the globe and have adapted very unique ways of coping with those challenges over hundreds of generations, our unique sets of adaptations which we have inherited will further dictate which dietary options are best for each of us. I know that I do not do well with processed, refined, salty or sugary foods and that drinking what most would consider a very large amount of water works best for me. People of different decent might understandably not benefit from this same diet according to the dictates of their environment from which they came.
The responses to the article have certainly gone in some interesting directions and I have read them all. I urge each of you to consider how different environments on planet Earth actually are (how different we all are) before you consider swearing by any one way of being healthy versus another.
We are right to gather information and experiment with what works best for each of us but we are wrong if we insist that our experiences or the experiences of another can account for an entire group of people. I do not think Kitty's post attempted to do this and I thank her for sharing her experience as well as everyone else who contributed to this thread.

Well put, and very encouraging!


Thanks Robert, a very good article.

The doctor was dealing specifically with the ingestion of too much water not too little. Thus, that is the slant of the article. Many people would see themselves in that group and know what he was speaking of.
Kitty, who is,personally, more concerned about the opposite condition just threw herself and her world into it.Keeping a bottle of water at hand for someone who is not at risk of consuming amounts that exceed the normal range constitutes no concern. Put that bottle into the hands of a person who is continually throwing their electrolytes off,causing their cells to carry burdens that they should not and having other systems deal with removing it do not need to be encouraged.

The advice is not bad - it is just under the wrong topic. That is why people should see experts. Too many people think that their experience or condition represents everyone else.

I came on this site to gain knowledge about how much water is to much to drank, instead I came across post of folks bad mouthing one another. I've been in a lot of pain sense my surgery which was over 4 months ago, I have lost 40 pounds rapidly and I'm still loosing weight. All I drink is water, seems like the only thing that I can hold down these days. So I was really looking foward to reading something very useful about drinking water, I barely eat: I couldnt tell anyone the last time that I really eat a full meal because my meals consist on taking three to four bites of something all day and being done with it. I'm still loosing weight and not in a healthy way at all. I'm waiting for loads of test results to come back to figure out what else is wrong with me.
Nobody should judge nobody, we are all put here to help one another in some kind of way. Lifes to short to judge any one or to be hateful towards them. We are all equal and we all have our own opinions about the way that we see things regardles to if someone agrees or disagrees with us.

I have to agree with Kitty in the previous comment. I have been attending Weight Watchers for several months and I've lost 16 lbs. One thing they've talked about is how sometimes overweight folks "confuse" the urge to eat, with an urge for water. The body is sending a signal and often by the time bubbles to the front of thought, we think of it as "Oh, I need food" and we often eat, when in fact we need hydration. I drink 6 glasses a day and I've noticed my hunger cravings have been reduced by at least 50%.
Using the color of your urine as a guide is a good idea too. Almost clear, is well hydrated. More physical activity requires more water.
A toast to healthy drinking! Shelly

Drinking more than 8 glasses of water a day simply makes me hungrier. I don't believe for one minute that it reduces appetite. Perhaps these people drinking lots of water, as part of a diet program are losing weight because of their diet - not because they are consuming lots of water.

I also feel is unnatural to drink OR eat if one doesn't feel the need.

If you are thirsy - you are already dehydrated.
I do believe that every person's body is different, thus requiring different amounts of water. And as such - what works for one person may not work for you and vice-versa.

Since our bodies are made up mostly of water, I think it important to stay hydrated

I like your way of thinking, Nikki. Plain, simple, sensible logic.

Of course we are all diferent in our needs. But, as I understand it,
after certain age, our bodies are less able to indicate our need for water.
So, to be on the safe, we need to keep track of how much water we consume.
A good indication may be the color of the urine, if yellowissh probably we need more water daily. Thank you for your help.

Agreed. Drinking more water makes me hungrier. But then again I am always ALWAYS hungry. And no, I am not mistaking hunger for my thirst. I drink more than enough water thoughout the day to know I am hydrated well.

I am only not hungry right after a normal sized meal or large meal. Otherwise I am starving.

Maybe you just eat foods that don't make you feel full for long.. like white bread and stuff like that.. I learnt that from the biggest loser tv show.. there are foods that make you feel full for longer.. like peanut butter.. or proteins i guess.. and beans .. oh yeah.. high fiber low fat foods :D

Hi Petra, If you did a metabolic typing test you would probably find that you are a protein type like myself. Protein Types are usually hungry all the time unless they have some form of protein at every meal, try eating 5 or 6 times a day with a portion of protein at every meal and see if your hunger continues. I actually found a book online that helps with Nutrition for the different metabolic types. Maybe you should purchase it as well and see if it works for you. it certainly has for me.


Sean Hanekom

Dear Dr. Kim:

Please add that over-consumption of water needlessly dilutes the bodies' vitamins and minerals, esp. Vit C and all non-oil based vitamins and minerals.

If drinking too much water does dilute and flush out the body's minerals and vitamins, might as well take in more minerals and vitamins anyway to balance it all out.

Wow! this is so neat, all these years I have been one that is not into drinking the ten glasses a day that everyone says we should drink... but I have found I am always trying to get my kids to drink lots, i admit, even when they are not thirsty... but then I started thinking about it.. if drinking lots flushes out toxins from your body... then won't it also flush out vitamins? Hm.... well, I think so! Just a thought, obey your thirst, God made it for a reason.

I read this article with great interest.  I'm obese and I don't reach for foods instead of water when I'm hungry.  I'm also an osteopenic hypothyroid celiac with fibromyalgia.  I have been gluten-free for 2 years and despite eating well, I'm not losing weight.  For being 273 lbs at my heaviest, I rarely eat over 2,000 calories, mostly between 1,200 and 1,500.  At one time for over 6 months I exercised daily and was sore daily (I did lose 14 lbs).  My heart palpitated before CD dx, was worse after exercise.  I gave up.  I've incorporated eating more raw food, but also eat warm soups.  Before that, the doc lowered my Synthroid dose to see if it'd help my palpitations. I'd lowered my dose before because I was absorbing better with gf diet.  This was my third time lowering my dose and it was not the charm.  I crashed.  This, at a time when I experienced no power or water for a week during a winter storm.  This, at a time when I'd just sent my husband to work out of state.  While alone I craved yogurt and only drank coffee for fake energy.  I did not have thirst and loved not going pee all the time, esp in the middle of the night as usual.  This was December 2007.  Remember the raw food I was eating?  Well, I've always had a penchant for salty foods (probably because I was malabsorbing because of undiagnosed celiac).  When changing to a more raw food diet, by proxy, didn't eat much sodium.  I found myself binging on potato chips and Lipton's onion dip - very salty!Well, I've since been diagnosed with secondary hyperparathyroidism ... and within the last two months been on quite a learning curve about our kidneys/vascular system and heart health.  I craved the sodium, but didn't drink the water to BALANCE my needs.  Warning!  You can't get back kidney health!  Take care of them and you take care of your heart too!  I am back to drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day, and I monitor my sodium intake via a free online diet site,  With enough but not too much water, I have been losing weight.  BALANCE IS KEY!  Thanks for the article Dr. Kim.P.S.  My fibro is about non-existent now w/gf diet! 

I have been drinking 10 plus 8 ounce glasses of water per day. It seems that my inflamation is worse. I am considering that the water maybe diluting my meds for that and/or my hypothyroid meds. It has also been suggested that I be checked for celiac disease. Any advise would be appreciated. Thankyou, Toni

This great article debunks the myth that you need to drink x amount of glasses per day to be healthy, from whom and where did this fallacy start? Nature will tell you when you need water by a little mechanism called ...thirst.
Thank you Doctor Ben for a great site that is a wonderful resource of health fact for many.

The average '8 glasses a day' idea was originally developed by an advertising agency to sell a product. Your body actually requires somewhere between 3 & 4 litres in a 24hr period to keep its natural system functioning properly. As others have already stated by the time you are thirsty your body is already starting to dehydrate. You need to drink regularly to maintain hydration and remove the toxins from your system. This article really focuses on excessive drinking above the bodies ability to process but the majority of people do not drink enough water - and certainly not enough to warrant the above side effects.

Hi, I somewhat agree with the comment above...I believe that adults need way more than 8 glasses of water a day - for the reasons mentioned above. Water is the healthiest drink on the planet! and I think it does make you feel fuller (so of course it should help with weight loss). I am an extremely healthy person who barely EVER gets sick....I practically never get headaches, colds, or flus (or anything worse). I contribute my good health to exercise, fresh air, healthy eating, and WATER. I drink over 5 litres every day (inc a litre when I first wake up in the morning) and feel GREAT :-)

I am overweight ( 6'2" and 270 lbs) and recently started drinking at least 5 litres of water per day. Yes I need to pee regularly, but when at work I pick a bathroom that is not on the same level as my office so I have to climb a couple of flights of stairs several times a day.

I am eating less and feel great. Less joint and body pain. My mind seem sharper and I feel less fatigued as I am sleeping well. I am not keeping track of weight loss yet.

I'm also a recovering alcoholic, 9 months sober so far. If I feel this good just through drinking water then I'm going to keep at it.

The 8 ounce 8 glasses of water a day is an urban myth. I agree with your comment. The human body is as advanced as a computer. Computers need electricity to live, just as humans need water to live. Water is like the thing that keeps ALL plants and animals alive. I drink around 3.5-4 litres a day and are rarely thirsty. Your comment is correct, humans do need about 4 litres of water to keep our computer like bodies from running at maximum capacity.

I was always told 8 glasses of water a day is best.. Then I went to nursing school and my nutrition professor told us there is no such guideline. Some genius somewhere began saying it and some other genius repeated it. There is no proof that 8 glasses a water does anyone any good... the body is 60% water so drink when thirtsy and forget the rest

Not true. There are several studies that show that the more water you drink, the lower your risk of cancer and high blood pressure (which is highly correlated with many other diseases)

After reading the article some lights went off. In a nutshell I cut water out and used fresh vedg & fruit as moisture - like monkeys do (smile) - but true.
Lost 30lbs in 8 weeks (lost of hard exercise as well) body fat went from 20% down to 8.7%.

In summary our society has overated the use of water in our diets to being fanatic rather than sensible.


I had such a hard time dieting when I was trying to drink 8 glasses of water a day. I actually felt more tired and hungry, with all that water sloshing around in my system. Not to mention the fact that I was having to pee every 5 minutes. Not fun.

Yeah, that's the same thing I have been experiencing. I have been drinking water like taking "medicine", drinking 8 cups evenly spaced out over my day, because I have been told to believe its doing my body good. But...

I feel tired all the time.

I have to pee just about once every hour or sometimes more often it seems. Its really unacceptable how often I have to excuse myself to go pee. Or worse, hold it and be uncomfortable.

I feel hungrier than normal. I used to feel adequately hungry by lunch or dinner time. But now I feel like I am starving to death.

So I decided to cut back on water and try to eat an apple or orange or carrots or other watery/moisture-rich foods for snacks to make up for the moisture. The reasoning being that I would still get the requisite amount of water, but maybe with the healthy snacks... it won't go through my system so fast. I still drink water. Just not 8 cups.

How long were you drinking the water for? If you start dramatically upping your water intake at first it will seem like you are lacking energy and feeling groggy maybe even sick. Water helps remove toxins from the body, and an abrupt change could result in larger quantities of toxins being released. This could account for the adverse feelings. However if you have been keeping the water levels the same for over 6 days and still are having issues than it's not a toxin issue per say because it only takes a few days to get use to the new regiment. Regardless, if you feel like you should add more water to your diet start slow and build up to it. Also it never hurts to increase fruit and vegetable intake regardless of hydration issues. Fruits and vegetables are full of micro-nutrients and are easily handled by the body, the added benefit of increased hydration is just bonus on top of all the vitamins and minerals as well as fiber to be had.

Being healthy period is about maintaining moderation and lifestyle changes. Eating xxx number of calories is fine and dandy if it’s a well balanced meal. Our bodies need all the macro and micro nutrients available in order to work properly. It's absolutely amazing the torture we can put our bodies through.

The more articles i read about health and nutrition and wellness the more i have realized that you can find an expert to back up any claim that is made regarding anything. This is healthy if you ask this guy, but it is not if you ask this guy and it is healthy only if xxxx if you ask that guy, the list goes on forever. If you never drink water and drink plenty of soda or tea or coffee just simply switching out 1 beverage a day for water would do more good than you might realize. While excessive water is not good, too little water can be much worse. I would be willing to bet the amount of people who die from dehydration is much greater that those who die from over hydration. Conversely if all you drink is water, try adding 1 other beverage in a day like milk or juice or tea. Anyways rant over, I hope everyone finds the right amount of everything in order to lead a happy full life.

I would site my medical credentials as well as the sources for my claims but i would rather take the stance of some internet preaching yayhoo

Just what I was looking for, thank you. Very well put.

You're not eating enough, and carbs in particular. You need to eat more frequently to keep your metabolism up. You can't up one portion of your diet without fixing the rest of your menu. Most people think they need 3 meals a day. You need 5 smaller meals a day, with small snacks in between. You also need certain foods at different times of the day. Oats are best in the morning. Pasta and other healthy carbs are good in the afternoon, and before exercise. Don't eat a lot an hour or 2 before sleeping.

I've found that by reaching for water instead of for food, like mentioned above, has been a great way to eliminate my munchies. I'm hoping that I'll start losing weight soon. I've only been doing it for a couple of days, but I started exercising as well, so I'm very much looking forward to being skinnier.

thanks, I have been seeing someone who insists that I drinkd at least 8 glasses of water pr day, I finally gave it up and drink when I am thirsty. I don't prespire unless it is hot and then very little. So glad to read what you have to say. Thanks again.

the too much water totally makes sense to me... im not extremely active and do not eat a lot of salt either and have been drinking tons of water recently, I have had cramping and i have only gained weight due to not disposing what i did eat. the only thing i have changed is the amount of water i been started off as me feeling dehydrated so i began to drink water constantly, always keep a full bottle and thats when my issues have started...i will try to drink less and see what happens.

This article was good! In response to some comments, proper nutrition is so unclear to the public becuase it has become a business, disregarding acutal health care. Extremes and dieting are not the way to go. Lifestyle change and moderation are more reasonable.
- There is definatly validity to drinking water to eat less. Water takes up space in your stomach just like food. There should be a good balance (1-2 glasses per meal).
- Foods that have a high nutrient density and low energy density should be eaten often. Whole (not processed) fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients and typically low in energy molecules (proteins, fats and carbs). Proteins, fats and carbs are the molecules you store.
- If someone starts drinking 8 glasses a day, your body isnt use to it. Most of what you drink will be filtered out. Over time, if you continue this, your body will begin to retain the water in your blood stream. This is not the same thing as water retention. You actually loose "water weight" by drinking more water because of salt/water balance. You retain water with higher salt intake, not water. For a better understanding look up info on the "renin-angiotensin system"
- For the woman with thyroid issues, you can get relief with thyroid hormones. That is probably the only thing (along with diet and excercise) that will help your symptoms. There are many people who are overweight and are that way because they dont take care of themselves. You cannot help your condition. Stay hopeful and positive!! Good luck!

Interesting article and comments. I do know that for myself, I suffered from chronic constipation for most of my adult life, mainly due to bad eating habits that I obtained from many many years ago. My doctor insisted that I take over-the-counter meds for it (Metamucil, etc.) and drink as much water as I could...he recommended a minimum of 10 glasses a day. Considering my adult height (4'11") and weight (approx. 110 lbs) is under average adult size, I thought this sounded exceeedingly excessive. I wondered how that rule of thumb could apply for everyone, since sizes, shapes and general body makeup differs so greatly from person to person. [I found too, that the regular meds for constipation didn't make much difference for me, and while I upped my water intake (not as much as he recommended) it didn't help a lot.]

Finally discovered on my own that drinking a moderate amount of water in a day and changing my diet worked wonders. Eating quinoa mixed with ground flax, eating healthier fresh vegetables, having a cup of coffee a day, having apples, dried prunes, etc. did the trick. As for water, I do drink it regularly now, but only in moderation (around 4 cups throughout the day, warmed, not cold). I also include soy drinks (in moderation) and fruit juice, usually freshly made at home. And since my diet has changed to include mainly fresh fruits and veggies, I don't think my body's demand for fluids is quite as high, unless it is hot weather and/or I'm particularly active.

Interesting thing to note: I once had a pet rabbit who became totally disabled. And for some reason that I never did discover, at the time that he became disabled, he seemed to not be able to drink water any more. He still ate his meals heartily, but refused to drink. So I began feeding his water to him in a dropper...but then I discovered that if I moistened his vegetables with water, he didn't seem to need that full intake of water any more. He survived quite well without having to drink...seems he got enough fluids from the vegetables themselves, along with the odd supplement of 'spoon-feeding' him a bit of fluid from the dropper. After observing my rabbit for over a year, that's when I began to wonder if what the doctors were saying about "8 to 10 glasses a day" of water intake for humans was accurate.

While I admit I don't know a great deal about nutrition and the body, I do suspect that we don't need nearly as much water as we've been told in the past. If one has a healthy diet of vitamin- and water-rich foods, and learns to listen to what their bodies tell them (I too was one who would reach for foods when I was actually thirsty), then you'll probably find a good balance. Everything in moderation seems to be key.


I have had remarkable health improvements by drinking less water. I've been cured of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, headaces, and chronically being fatigued.

I became a health nut about 15 years ago. Totally ate up whatever advice natural practitioners could offer. One of those was to drink more water...with clear urine being a sign of proper hydration.

I found it odd that the need to pee went away about three days after drinking more water. Then the urine would turn yellow again. Upon researching this, I found that the kidneys adjust to a higher water intake after a few days, and will start to cleanse/increase their efforts as a result of the increase water. At this point, I was drinking 1.75 gallons a day.

There was a time I was donating plasma... I found it odd some people, who drank only 1/3 the amount of water I was drinking, had better hydration than myself. So, I increase intake to 2.5 gallons a day.

After several years of doing this, I started experiencing fatigue, headaches, and started bleeding in the bowel.

Last year, my body shut down and I almost died. Eventhough I had drank eight glasses of water during the day, the hospital found I was severely dehydrated. My pulse was so weak that the alarm on the heart rate monitor kept sounding.

After recovering, the "specialist" diagnosed me with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. He told me that staying hydrated was KEY to not having a relapse. I told him about my two gallons a day, and he said that was good...

But, about four months ago, a co-worker who is taller and much stronger than I, challenged me that I was drinking too much water. He pointed out that he only drinks 32 ounces during the course of the work day. At was totally skeptical. So I started drinking less.

Within three days, the headaches, fatigue, and the majority of IBD symptoms were gone. Within a month, I was totally free of IBD! I wonder how many other people suffer from IBD as a result of drinking too much water.

I make this post simply to share the following note:

With IBD, there is an unusual amount of hydrogen peroxide in the gut, which creates gas. I used to have gas. Don't anymore. Also, with IBD, there is a vitamin A deficiency in the lining of the bowel. Interesting, because vitamin A is water soluble! Researchers openly admit they don't know "why the immune system attacks the body"... I now maintain it is from drinking too much water.

Here's my advice about how much water to drink:

First, I have found that I GET THIRSTY when I've drank too much. In the past, I would continue drink MORE water EVEN when I was already peeing every 45 minutes......because the "doctors" said to drink if you're thirsty. I've experimented with this for several months, and I only get thirsty if I've drank too much.

Second, on that same note...I also get headaches if I start drinking too much. For me, maybe not for you, I know I'm drinking too much if I am going pee more than once every two hours and have a headache. Often, if I have a headache, I don't drink water for the next two hours, and the headache goes away.

Third, is the sign of gas. The main function of the large intestine is to pull water out of the stool. The colon has an amazing ability to absorb gas also! I NO LONGER use gas-pills or enzymes. I simply drink less water. By less, please understand that all of my experimenting has led me to about a gallon a day. Non-activities are around .75 gallons.

Fourth, I've found that clear urine ALWAYS coinsides with headaches, peeing too much, and having gas. Said another way, to drink enough water to have clear urine always puts me in that state. I have actually found that a mild yellow keeps me out of these things. Think about it folk: how have people have the great armies survived...without needing to carry around two gallons of water per soldier a day.

Now, as to drinking too little. If the urine is solid yellow, I haven't peed in 3 hours, and my head hurts, then I'm dehydrated!

Also, sports induced asthma (which I don't have) is caused by dehydration.

Also, I work at a walking job... When dehydrated, the calf muscles start to knot and get quite tight. When hydrated, they are limber.

Anyway, I've said enough. Just wanted to pass on the message: drink water CREATES thirst, clear urine is TOO MUCH water, having excessive gas is TOO MUCH water, and if you or a loved one has just might be drinking too much water.


litres or GALLONS?!!

I have practically the same symptoms that you had. Maybe i have that Inflammatory Bowel Disease that you spoke about. I must be drinking too much water cause i go to the bathroom like every hour too and lots in the night. I'm gonna give it a try, i guess a gallon is enough.

I suffer from headaches everyday and I have IBS.. I have tried everything!!! I drink over 100 ounces of water a day and I try to eat right - fruits and veggies! Constanly going to pee every 30 minutes - always clear! I always heard the more water you drink the more you require & I stay thirsty!! I am going to drink less water and see if that helps! Thanks you for posting this :)

I have always heard that most headaches come from the liver not eliminating toxins. You must address the IBS. IBS is a catch-all term to describe intestinal disorders characterized by gas,
bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation alternating. Colitis is inflammation of the colon & small intestines, Crohn's Disease is a severe form of colitis which causes fistulas, openings created by ulcers that connect to other organs, ulcerative colitis is similar to Crohn's except it starts in the rectum and affects only the colon, Celiac Disease causes breakdown of the intestines due to gluten allergies, and diverticulitis is inflammation of pockets in the colon.
Most drugs prescribed for these chronic conditions are addressing the symptoms and don't claim to cure them. Alternative medicine and herbalism give us a different, more effective way to look at these conditions. The key here is summed up with one word INFLAMMATION. (irritation to tissues)
Causes include: antibiotics (promotes the growth of toxin-secreting yeasts), food allergies, heavy metals and environmental toxins, smoking, birth control pills, antacids, nitrates found in preservatives, MSG and chlorinated water.
Remove the causes by avoiding substances that irritate/inflame the intestines. Pay attention to foods that trigger allergic reactions. Remove toxins - take fiber. Use stress reducing herbs (B's) Enzymes break down foods. Marshmallow and Pepsin are good enzymes. Dr. Kim has some very good enzyme formulas. Remove toxins with bulk laxatives - they will help absorb and carry them out of the system. Eliminate yeast overgrowth. Take probiotics (friendly bacteria) very important in reducing waste acids. See if these things don't help you with your headaches.

I would ask the good Doctor to become familiar with what is known as the "Water Cure". Using this knowledge took my Hypertension down from about 160/110 with three medications down to 120/80 in three and a half weeks. I had hypertention for 12 years. Your information regarding water intake needs a little revision so as to not mislead people on what is a vital healing need in your body. Being thirsty is NOT a sign of drinking when necessary. The water cure is something you should know about. Most regular doctors know nothing about it. Yes you are correct in what you say about drinking too much at once but you mislead the folks about chronic dehydration. With respect, Jack Segle

Thanks, Dr. Kim, for posting this. I have been saying for years that the concept that everyone needs eight eight-ounce cups of water a day, no matter their diet, size, level of activity, and so on, is absurd.

And people's idea that water from soup, juice, soda, and food somehow doesn't count is just silly. I have heard this particular little gem from medical professionals, who really should know better.

One question, though. It has always been my understanding that salt causes people to retain water. Thus salt tablets in the desert, and so on. Why do you say that the ingestion of more salt requires more water?

Sorry for posting this behind your post Kelly. I could not figure out how to do my own post without just hitting reply.

Anyways, I looked up "effects of drinking too much water" and found this page. I started dieting about a week ago and I have been snacking and eating meals like I should, but so much less that I am still hungry. When I feel the hunger which is about every hour I drink a whole 16.9 oz bottle of water without pause. Whether thats with my snack or meal I still do it to help fill my stomach. Anyone know if drinking this much water is bad? It seems to be helping keep me full at least for a little while after I drink it. I definitely go to the restroom a lot. I dont drink as much after dinner as I do during the day. I pretty much stop after dinner. Any thoughts?

after reading a lot on water intake and water therapy to reduce my weight i have also started same practice

1. I drink 1.5-2 liters of water once i get up
2. After 1 hour light break fast
3. after 1 hour from break fast starts drinking water till lunch stops before 30 min of lunch

4. After lunch i drink water only after 1 hour and continue to do so till the dinner..
In this process i am alsmost consuming 5-6 ltr of water and urinate frequent but i hope atleast 20% will be retained by the body mean while i feel it will flush the toxins and other unwanted products, However after reading this I also get worried that it will flush even the wanted stuff from the body so i will optimize and see the results my self

To conclude it seems depending on your body make up you should get idea and ajusted to the water requirement.

When you drink water for weightloss, the best thing to do is stick to water when you're not drinking juices that are healthy for your body. Instead of trying to gulp down loads of water, just sip frequently. You don't need a large bottle of water. If you have to, buy a decent sized water bottle, like the re-usable metal ones that keep the water in good taste. Sip frequently-- don't gulp it down. It's the same as when eating. You don't chew 5 times and swallow. Chew thoroughly so that your stomach won't hurt from gaining large, unmashed food. Do this especially with bananas. Most people eat them wrong. They're meant to be chewed thoroughly and eaten slowly to digest properly. But I digress. You do need water to flush out toxins. It's also the only thing that clears your colon, not that fake stuff people try to sell; those are scams. But even too much of a good thing can be bad. Don't drink water only when you're thirsty, but don't overload yourself either.

Also, for any drinking contest, it's best to make yourself vomit instead of trying to hold it in. I don't suggest doing any of these contests at all, but I've known a few people who would purposefully go vomit drinks back up later. One guy I knew and his friend participated in a milk-drinking contest. He told me they forced-vomited so they wouldn't get sick.

heed this warning people. seriously. i am now 3 months into trying to repair the damage i have done to my kidneys. and it SUCKS. a lot. i thought it might be a good idea a few years back to up my water intake. but as i drank more and more, i became thirstier and thirstier constantly. i was drinking basically 10 hours a day. and i wouldn't even notice. that was 4 years or so back. in the last few months i've been getting awful side effects - the main one being that i put 6 kilograms on daily. all the liquids i take in don't filter out - they just pool in my ankles, lower legs, feet etc. very painful. and i'm up allllll night peeing it out. to be at the doctors today and be told that i'm allowed 1.5 litres a day max to fix hard to say the least. i get thirsty EVERY five minutes now. and i would normally have drunk a litre of water before i've even gotten to work of 8 eight a clock in the morning. then i've got til i go to bed at 11pm that night. to go without liquids. in a normal day i would have 3x600ml coke zeroes, 3 x 500ml green teas and 3 x 500ml decaf coffees. plus one or 2 x 275ml energy drinks. and at least 3 litres of water.

and now i get to have one and a half. and i'm spending heaps on trying to get my kidneys working again :(


don't do it.
not worth it.
and i'm only 23 years old!!!

Did ur doctors comment on the amount of caffiene u had been consuming? because the coke + green tea + energy drinks can pack quite a punch .... i just thought id ask since caffiene is a known diuretic

I think everyone's body is different. I don't agree with the statement that people who exhibit signs of dehydration will realize you are thirsty if you ask them- I have been hospitalized several times for dehydration, I just DON'T get thirsty, and I never remember to drink anything. I often go 48 hours without a drink, and only realize it when I start to get dizzy. Right now I m trying to up my water intake to 2 quarts a day but am struggling to even make it to 1. I am the type of person who always wants to eat, but never feels the need to drink.

I have started taking a leaf out of the Australian Aboriginal practice for thirst. When they were walking the long distances while hunting in our dry country, they would choose a smooth pebble to keep in their mouth. It promotes saliva production, so less feelings of thirst, until they can find water. I substitute a stone from fruit for the pebble, and it works superbly! A prune stone, plum seed or apricot stone are great, and even a rough nectarine or peach stone are interesting textures in your mouth. I have also used few smaller seeds such as three cherry seeds or citrus pits. They all have their own flavours, too, which increases the sensation. The flavours are subtle, but quite recognizable.

FYI - all the fruit seeds/stones you mentioned (except the citrus and perhaps the nectarine) contain cyanide and should not be ingested. Apple seeds contain a chemical which releases cyanide.

I would like to bring to your attention a book on water:
Water for health, for healing, for life. You're not sick, you're thirsty.
the author is F. Batmanghelidj.

I found it a very interesting book and sheds more light on water and salt usage than what I have read before. It explains why water cannot be replaced by other liquids such as juices, juicy fruits and vegetables, tea and coffee.

Your kidneys are not the equivalent of a pair of plumbing pipes whereby the more water you flush through your kidneys, the cleaner they become---

I think this was definitely the idea I n so many other ppl have. Water is such a basic requirement it would be very interesting to understAnd more the dynamics of it in our body n our blood n kidneys.
Thanks dr Kim for talking more about this!

Great article and comments everyone! One thing to remember, if you take B vitamins, your urine can be bright yellow (regardless of how much liquid you drink) so the colour of your urine may not be a good indicator. I heartily agree that eating water-rich foods is a great way to hydrate yourself but I am one of those people who doesn't get thirty very often (always been that way). I know I'm dehydrated by looking at my skin - dry and wrinkly. I've read about the water cure and it makes sense to me - the addition of proper sea salt (not the white stuff you find on most people's dinner table) to your water helps replenish what you're washing away. Remember, though, that it needs to be high quality sea salt (or I imagine Himalayan salt) - 1/4 teaspoon per litre of water and don't drink with meals - as someone mentioned - it dilutes your digestive juices. As for the amount of water, gauge how you feel since everyone is different. The people who drank gallons of water for the contest did so over a short period of time and one poor person paid the ultimate price. Trust your body's signals. Thanks for the great article!

The Water Cure book mentions the taking of good quality salt, but also mentions including potassium, such as a small amount of orange juice. So just a little fyi.

Thank you for the very reasonable advice in this area.

I like what a naturopathic doctor from India told me. Drink a good amount of water at one time, like 8-16oz or more, instead of sipping all day. The kidneys work constantly if you are sipping constantly. I don't know how true this is but it makes sense to me.

Also, people who live around here drink sugary soda pop with meals and any time. Some never drink water. I really think this is a common cause of diabetes - which they all have, sooner or later. I didn't grow up drinking pop (thanks mom), so I was so surprised that people do this.

This article is amazing. I read this article a year ago and it hit me like ton of bricks. I always had a bottle of water on hand, I was always using the bathroom thinking if my urin was clear it was a good thing. My left kidney started to ache sometimes but I was stupid and thought I wasn't drinking enough water. I would literally panic if I ever felt thirsty, like I was going to die or something. I was feeling so sick and down, and then I read this article, I had never before heard that americans were drinking too much water. It is SOOOO TRUE! We are water obsessed. Needless to say, I started cutting back on water right away and it changed my health and life. I started to have more energy. I have not had any kidney aches since. I am so much more free. I drink when I am thirsty. It makes so much sense! Thank you Dr. Ben kim. You are a saint for posting pure doctrine on health.

I succumbed to bottled water company marketing and social pressure and added 64 ounces of water to my daily diet. My kidneys couldn't handle the additional fluid and I swelled up and had trouble walking short distances and breathing. After dialing 911 one evening I spent 3 weeks in the hospital hooked up to a diuretic IV. The diagnosis was congestive heart failure. I am undergoing physical therapy now to regain my sense of balance and be able to walk. I just dumped the walker for a cane. Hoping to start walking and carrying my bag on the golf course next month again.

I have learned a lot about water in the last couple of years, how contaminated it is and the poisons that are in our water. I started drinking alkaline water about 2 years ago and water a world of difference. It seems to be overlooked here that our bodies need to be pH balanced, and that our bodies need to be hydrated. For all the pop and food that we consume our bodies are so acidic. I feel that contributes to all of the dis-eases of our bodies. We should be drinking half of our body weight in water. Our bodies are an ocean of salt water. We need a 7.365 healthy blood pH, our body weight in water is around 75 to 80%, our blood 83%, our bones 20%, our brain 80%water. We need water and we need healthy water. THat is why my combination of alkaline water, which I will drink nothing else, and Himyalan Salts, I have never felt better and my body loves it.

Thanks for posting Dr. Kim! Well expressed. Everything needs to be in balance including water. As a naturopathic doctor who deals with kidney patients, I see many of them forcing water. They expect the extra water will heal their kidneys and are disppointed when it doesn't. Urinating about 6 times a day, approximately every 3-4 hours is a healthy range. I will be posting this to my facebook page Holistic Kidney. Thanks again.

Dr. Jenna Henderson

Hi Dr Ben Kim

I enjoy reading all your awesome articles So simple to read & understand. Thank you.

I refer to your article on drinking water.

I drink more than 2 litres water daily. This is spread thru out the 16 waking hours. We work in air conditiong comfort for more than 8 hours a day which makes me very dry. I drink almost like 1.5 litres during my day in the office.

My drinking pattern daily: is 400ml before i leave for office followed by 1.5 litre in the office. When i m home after office i drink another 500ml.

Am i drinking more that my body needs.

Absolutely not!

I find it dangerous and irresponsible to tell people to drink less water. If sipped slowly, the kidneys can process about 15 litres of water a day. That's a ridiculous amount, right? So, assuming you're not engaging in any water-drinking competitions, it's very unlikely that you will ever overdose on water.

There are indeed certain kidney disorders for which your doctor might tell you to decrease your water intake, but short of that drink drink drink! I see so many urinary infections (especially in women) that could have been prevented by proper hydration. Sepsis can be life threatening, even in young otherwise healthy people. And remember, one bad kidney infection can damage your kidneys forever.

I drink when thirsty, and have never been able to drink the 64 oz a day they used to advise us to do. Glad I didn't now that I know more. Also, drinking cold water from the fridge is not very good for your digestion, as I have read in many places. I usually drink my water from a room temperature bottle, or if I have juice, I let it sit for a few minutes to take the chill off. I have also discovered on my own, that drinking hot tea with my meal makes everything digest better (learned while out for a Chinese meal). Now I find out that is what is recommended. So many times our body will tell us what we need, if we only listen... heed your sense of thirst - drink a bit. Heed your appetite, but stop before you are full. I realize this may not work for those whose systems are out of whack - being overweight, dieting, ignoring thirst or appetite, etc - but in general, it seems to be a good rule to follow. Works for me!

My own water drinking is an effort to cope with what seems like Myesthenia Gravis. I take amino acids complete and know H2O is necessary for the proper formation of proteins. They have to have a wet environment and I suspect we have a defective thirst response. Fruit may work but we live in a world mostly above the Equatorial region that has only seasonal food. The imports may contain only dead enzymes that are non functional. Indeed, rancid vegetable oils (not refrigerated, kept in light, and if not fresh, weeks, they are off, rancid, and therefore rob vitamins from the blood stream.

A good article, but the connection between water and physical performance for relatively health people seems underrated/ ignored in the article. I'm 26y old, in relatively good shape (8-10% bodyfat, 6'1", 170lbs) and regularly do interval training and bodybuilding (just on a recreational level). I have a low carb, high fat, high protein diet to keep insuline levels low/steady (a big recommendation to many overweight people by the way, don't ignore your insuline levels, cut out that sugarcrap and processed foods full of high fructose corn syrup carbage). In the past, I always listened to my body, drank when thirsty or get a dry mouth etc.

Then I read the rule of the urine color. Only close to transparent urine (considering you haven't eaten foods with big amounts of pigments) makes for a hydrated body. 80% of the cases, my urine is clearly yellow. Apparently just listening to the body is not enough, at least not for me. Recently I started drinking about twice the amount (about 4 liters instead of 2), keeping a big bottle of water within arm's reach when possible. NOW finally my urine is quite colorless.

Another benefit of drinking more than the body 'asks' for, for me, is that my strength has increased 10 to 20% (!!!) in most weightlifting exercises, especially squats, deadlifts, benchpress and lunges. That's one major PRO for me.

Apart from that, actually my appetite has gone UP since I've started drinking more water. I don't know if it's a direct connection, but it must otherwise be a big coincidence. Believe it or not, for me the increased appetite is a good thing, because I'm not a big eater and the high protein diet gives me a full(filled) feeling. I have problems reaching my required calory count to gain weight for bodybuilding. Now, it's a lot easier for me.

Ofcourse drinking 2 galons of water in ONE HOUR or less, for some extremely stupid competition, can cause death. The same can be said for eating extraordinary amounts of any food in an extremely short amount of time. However, I now know a lot of bodybuilders around 170-200lbs that drink 2 gallons of water - SPREAD- throughout the day and they actually perform better and gain mass faster.

I think most people are actually dehydrated and can have at least a few glasses of water a day extra. These extreme examples of death are not realistic and not applicable in any way for every day people, who do not join horrendous food competitions. Too much of anything is bad. Just want to shed another light on this.

I personally believe that drinking "too much water" is a good thing. I work out twice a day an hour in the morning and a two hour session at night. I eat 6 times a day I just get a bit over 228 grams of protein a day as well. I do not monitor my water intake but I can tell you, atleast 50-80 cups a day, easily. I ALWAYS NEED TO BE HYDRATED, always. I don't know much science behind water but I can tell you I have not been sick once since I was 14 and I am now 22. Ignoring your bladder, being inactive and an idiot will lead to results like this lady. I would tell some contest to shove it up their ass, why degrade yourself this way... anyways, in the article you should make it clear that drinking too much water is bad for your health if you do not use it. As is overeating, a lot of my heavier male friends get jealous when we go out to eat because I can finish off a 24 oz steak, vege, mash, a few beers and desert. Why? I am always working out and I am healthy, thats why. Theres no mountain to tall no ocean to deep when it comes to eating. Trust your body and it's signals, eat as much as you want, just burn that energy and let the protein and vitamins make you bigger, better, faster and stronger. and feel good too :)

Let them eat cake!!!

If you are wanting to rehydrate after a good work out try coconut water suppose to be really good for you, and tasted a lot better than water :-0 For more info go here

This is an excellent article. Here is something to add to the water debate: (1) One is NOT already dehydrated when one feels thirst. Thirst is a signal that you need water, so quench it.

Once upon a time, water was served with meals, so everyone drank three glasses of water a day at a minimum. It worked out fine.

I completely agree with this but what about when you have to drink more like with medicine or drinking tea? I have been drinking tea for health benefits but I drink it wiithout milk and sugar and I actually do feel weird afterwards because I drink about a whole cup and it's basically just like coloured water. I am not used to drinking this much water. I think I will have to space it out throughout the day from now on instead of drinking it all at once.
Even when I used to take pills as medicine or supplements, I would end up drinking like a sip of water extra every time, when I wasn't even thirsty, it was so annoying. Now I just dry swallow my supplements.

A lot of people are debating the validity of drinking a set amount of water daily and using the above article as an excuse for why one shouldn't drink a set amount. However do note that the article is describing EXCESSIVE drinking within a short time frame. Excessive water consumption in a short time frame (much like drinking too much alcohol in a short time frame) will put your body into tilt because you've created a major stress on the body. He did not say "DON'T ever drink more than x amount of water daily - because if you do you're going to kill yourself".

The example was a woman who attempted to win a contest by drinking 2 gallons of water in an hour and then forced herself to hold it. Most normal folks wouldn't do something this stupid. So, with a regular (and calm) drinking pattern, your body would have time to safely eliminate any excess water. If drinking a set amount of water works for you - go for it. If it doesn't - don't.

Yeah I think what this article is saying is that you shouldnt drink MASSIVE amounts of water (like the crazy example), but most people dont. People shouldn't use it as an excuse to not drink water, cause they dont like it or whatever. I dont even like it myself, but I do it because I know my body needs it. And I am surprised noone mentioned the link between water and fiber intake. I eat a lot of fiber (30-40g/day) and if I dont drink enough water (at least 7 or 8 cups per day) I get constipated. Thats probably cause of the fiber, because you need water in combination with fiber. But if I dont eat at least 25-30g fiber I also get constipated, so I gotta do both. I like drinking water after a workout, but all other times I just kind of make myself do it cause I know I need it. On some days I slack off on it and I dont even really feel thirsty. So I dont think that's a really good way to go by to see if you need water. As many have said, if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Also when I drink at least 7 or 8 cups of water per day, my skin looks better and more hydrated.

On a side note, I think it would be nice if these comments or at the very least the article had a date on it. It would be nice to see if a comment was left 3 years ago or yesterday.

Great Conversation! I love the responses... Here is mine; I think that your article is missing a point in that more water is probably best and that should be GOOD water!


after I read this article I remembered that I watched a program on TV says that IF you eat plenty of vegetables and fruits it can not compensate your body needs of water ..So, we have to drink 8-12 glass of water daily. I also read that water have a big role with our body critical activities

my question ..

Is that true ??

thank so much ... I really got a lot from this site

No that's not true. Pure water that you drink and water from foods all get mixed up together in your stomach, and they have the same effect on your body. The more water there is in the food the less you will need to drink to stop you being thirsty.

And for most healthy people there's no need to drink when not thirsty.

(I am not a medical professional)

"The 28-year-old runner who collapsed and died in this year's Boston Marathon was felled by a precipitous cascade of medical events brought on in part by drinking too much fluid, the state medical examiner's office concluded yesterday."

There were 6 doctors that warned Gatorade what they were promoting in the years prior. Gatorade did not agree. After the death, Gatorade revised their position.

Actually, a person can drink as much water as he likes, as long as he is healthy and his urinary system is working. There MUST be a balance between input and output, though.

Personally, I love drinking room temperature water! Its one of my quirks and a lot of people say I'm weird because of this. I bring a 1 liter bottle to school, and I probably refill it 3-5 times per day. That's a lot of water, not counting my meals and the water I drink at home. Of course, it means that I take bathroom breaks a lot, though! I'm always excusing myself from class every hour or so.

Also, it's important not to drink a lot of water in one sitting! Because this would cause system overload, spiking your blood pressure. Normally, our body has compensatory mechanisms so this wouldn't be harmful, but drinking too much fluid that the body can't handle could lead to something fatal like pulmonary edema.

Balance is the key, I suppose! In any case, I really do love drinking water.

I was told that I was chronically dehydrated by my physician and that the sodas I had been drinking were causing more dehydration while diminishing my thirst.

So I decided to cut sodas and only drink water. I was surprised how quickly I felt better. I started working out, too.

Then I started to get thirsty more often...and CRAVED water. I thought this was finally my body telling me I was feeding it correctly. Before I realized it (within a couple of weeks), I was refilling my 32oz bottle 4 or 5 times per day. No you're reading that right. Sometimes, I'd drink over 150oz in a day. I was drinking to thirst, so I didn't think it was a bad thing.

Then, I started having low back pain. Within 24 hours, I was running a high fever, and feeling like crap. Went to urgent care, and they said I had a kidney infection. Well super. The cure was antibiotics and drinking MORE water.

So I pushed more water and took antibiotics. After about 3 days, I started to bloat abdominally. I had swollen ankles and hands, felt miserable, and the bloat was so painful that I thought I might be pregnant (and I've had a partial hysterectomy!! So you see how strange that is!). Went back to the doc. Blood tests showed acute kidney failure.

By changing my water intake to "normal" right off the bat, I set my body on a course to self-destruct. Now, I'm battling chronic kidney failure, IBS, and chronic dry mouth. I kind of wish I could start over.

People need to realize that too much for your body may simply just be what is too different from what you were already giving it. Start small. Don't make sudden changes. Even when it comes to water intake.

Update: Douglas County football player has died
...they suspect Zyrees over-hydrated after practice, drinking two gallons of water and two gallons of Gatorade.

It is a very informative discussion regarding whether to take or not to take more water.

I, at 61, 6.1 ft, 190 lbs, am fairly healthy, but with Hypotension & type II diabetics, have been drinking around three + liters of water since around two months.

I have lost five five pounds, my diabetic scores are within limits ( of course with medicines which were generally out of range even with medicines earlier), urine is near clear levels, going to wash room frequency is more and apart from this, I have not found any other adverse effect. Dunno really about it flushing out vitamins with the toxins, I have been taking multi vitamin & vit C on regular basis, though. Moderate three meals as breakfast at 8.30 AM followed by fruit mostly Apple at 11.30 AM, lunch at 2 PM, light snack with tea 4/5 PM and dinner( mostly chicken five days in a week) at 9 PM and water in between has been the norm.

If drinking water helps matters of health, diabetes, not sure about Hypertension though, it appears to be worth the effort of going to wash room, which at my age is more even otherwise ok due to prostrate enlargement, while hoping it does not make the kidneys over work, effect them adversely or has any other adverse implication.

Imbibing that much of water now happens automatically and I do not have to make extra effort on my part.

What will be the outcome, I will know the result couple of months down the line!

Till then lot of water would have gone down the system, hopefully more cleaning toxins and less washing out vital vitamins, as these would have been absorbed by the system!

Life goes ON, more so in positive thinking and less expectations from anyone /anything, including water!

Yes drinking a massive amount of water within a short time frame can kill you. However, unless you have a medical condition you can lose weight. I've heard people say "I barely eat, and consume carrots and celery and wholesome foods"- THAT MAKES YOU RETAIN OR GAIN WEIGHT TOO " because you're starving and the body slows the metabolism out of panic and self preservation. I WAS FAT and I was educated (which is worse and hypocritical, lol) because I knew that I needed to count macronutrients and create a balance to "heal" my body (not undereat, or over eat, not deprive or sit around, not drink apple cider vinegar, not take ephedrine or take prescription drugs) you need to calculate how many fats, carbs, calories and protein you need (macronutrient calculations.) Once you've done that APPLY IT, write down results, recalculate or adjust accordingly as you hit plateaus. You will lose the weight.It doesn't have to be perfect, but get close.And please walk around the planet quickly, and drink water A LOT but space the times between consumption too. I lost seventy pounds diong this YEARS ago, but have been around the greatest athletes IN THE WORLD- olympic athletes, pro boxers- and have studied nutrition for thirty years. I've seen athletes and soccer moms, and no one fails if they apply the right strategy