What happens if you drink water all day everyday?

Drinking water is essential for good health. Water makes up over half of the human body and is involved in many important bodily functions. Consuming adequate amounts of water every day is vital to maintaining hydration and overall wellbeing. However, some people take water consumption to the extreme and drink excessive amounts all day, every day. What are the effects of drinking water nonstop?

Benefits of Drinking More Water

There are certainly benefits to increasing daily water intake. Drinking sufficient water can:

  • Help maintain fluid balance
  • Improve physical performance and endurance
  • Boost metabolism and energy levels
  • Flush out toxins
  • Support kidney function
  • Improve skin hydration and appearance
  • Support healthy digestion

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult males consume around 3 liters (13 cups) of total water per day from all foods and beverages. For adult females, the recommendation is 2.2 liters (9 cups) per day.

Dangers of Drinking Too Much Water

While adequate hydration is important, consistently drinking an excessive amount of water all day long can lead to negative effects on health:

  • Water intoxication – Drinking too much water flushes out electrolytes like sodium, which helps maintain fluid balance. Depletion of electrolytes can lead to low sodium levels (hyponatremia), causing symptoms like nausea, headaches, confusion, seizures, and coma in severe cases.
  • Dilution of digestive juices – Drinking large amounts of water can dilute digestive enzymes and acids, making it more difficult to break down and absorb nutrients from food properly.
  • Strain on kidneys – The kidneys regulate fluid balance in the body and work hard to excrete excess water. Drinking water nonstop taxes the kidneys and could exacerbate problems in those with kidney disease.
  • Mineral deficiencies – Excess water consumption can also wash out essential minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium from the body.
  • Water weight – Drinking more water temporarily increases water weight as the excess liquid gets distributed throughout the body. This can cause uncomfortable bloating and swelling.

Experts warn against routinely drinking over 1 liter per hour, as this sheer volume can throw off electrolyte balance. It’s best to drink based on thirst and activity levels rather than forcing down water all day.

How Much Water Is Too Much?

There’s no set limit for how much water is too much, as needs vary by individual. Factors like body size, environment, activity levels and overall health impact daily water requirements. However, consistently drinking over 3-4 liters per day could be considered excessive for most people.

Drinking water only becomes dangerous when it starts interfering with normal bodily functions – like flushing out critically important electrolytes and minerals. Mild hyponatremia can occur at relatively low intake levels of 6-10 liters per day in some individuals.

Severe hyponatremia is more likely when water intake exceeds 10-15 liters per day. Endurance athletes who drink too much water before, during and after exercise are at particular risk as are people who use certain drugs like MDMA and ecstasy.

Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Water

Look out for these signs that you may be overhydrating:

  • Frequent and excessive urination
  • Electrolyte imbalance symptoms like fatigue, nausea, muscle weakness, spasms, cramps and confusion
  • Bloating
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Consistently colorless or very light colored urine

Pay attention to severe symptoms of hyponatremia like severe nausea, vomiting and headaches. Seek medical help immediately if you experience seizures, complete loss of energy, muscle spasms or loss of consciousness.

Tips for Drinking Enough (But Not Too Much) Water

To avoid overhydration and stay optimally hydrated, follow these tips:

  • Drink water when thirsty and with meals.
  • Choose water over sugary drinks like soda, juices and sports drinks.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle for easy hydration on the go.
  • Infuse water with fruits and herbs to add flavor.
  • Opt for fruits and vegetables with high water content.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine which have dehydrating effects.
  • Monitor urine color – light straw yellow is ideal.
  • Weigh yourself regularly to watch for fluctuations.
  • Don’t guzzle large amounts before, during or after exercise.

Remember that all fluids count towards daily water needs – not just plain water. The current dietary recommendations advise getting around 20% of total fluid intake from food and the rest from beverages.

Who May Need to Drink More Water?

While excessive water intake is unhealthy for most people, some individuals can benefit from intentionally upping their water consumption. Those who may require more fluid include:

  • Athletes – Endurance and strength athletes lose more water through sweat. Consuming extra before, during and after physical activity helps maintain performance and prevent dehydration.
  • Outdoor workers – Laborers who work long hours outdoors in hot conditions need added water to replace what’s lost through sweat.
  • Elderly – Thirst signals and hydration needs change with age. Some older adults must consciously drink more.
  • Pregnant women – Pregnancy increases fluid requirements due to increased blood volume.
  • Breastfeeding mothers – Breastfeeding mothers need to stay well hydrated to support milk production.
  • Those with certain conditions – Health issues like diabetes, recurring UTIs, kidney stones and bladder infections can also increase water needs.

However, even these groups should let thirst guide their water intake rather than forcing themselves to drink on a schedule. The kidneys are excellent at maintaining water balance and regulating hydration status as long as you drink when thirsty.

The Bottom Line

Drinking some extra water each day can definitely benefit health. But consistently drinking water nonstop all day goes overboard and can negatively impact electrolyte balance and bodily functions. Stick within recommended intake levels and drink based on your thirst to find the right water balance for you.

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