If you’ve been struggling to get down the recommended eight glasses of water every day, there may be good news. New research indicates this rule doesn’t have to apply across-the-board.
The study actually showed a very simple way to know how much water your own body needs each day. They scientists proved that when people no longer need to drink water, the body responds by making it physically difficult to swallow.
For the first time, researchers identified the mechanism that regulates fluid intake, which also stops people from over-drinking. The study also proved everyone has different levels of need for fluids.
Lead researcher Michael Farrell from Monash University in Australia says:
If we just do what our body demands us to we’ll probably get it right – just drink according to thirst rather than an elaborate schedule.
Most people will not be harmed by drinking eight glass of water every day, although some people need more and some less. Over-consumption of water, however, is genuinely dangerous. It can lead to hyponatremia, or water intoxication, in which blood sodium levels drop, putting you at risk of lethargy, nausea, seizures, coma, and even death.
For the first time, Farrell and his research team have proven the body has a hard-wired mechanism to stop you from drinking too much water.
During the study, the researchers asked 20 subjects to rate the level of difficulty they had in swallowing water under two conditions: following exercise, when they were thirsty, and later on when they did not want to drink.
Participants reported it required three times the effort to swallow when they had drunk to much water, demonstrating that the body regulates the amount of water consumed by creating physical difficulty.
Here for the first time we found effort-full swallowing after drinking excess water which meant they were having to overcome some sort of resistance. This was compatible with our notion that the swallowing reflex becomes inhibited once enough water has been drunk.
Researchers measured activity in the brain prior to drinking, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. When the subjects were over-drinking the MRI showed much increased activity in the prefrontal areas of the brain, suggesting the frontal cortex as overriding the hard-wired swallowing inhibition.
Although the study was small, it did break new ground. And it is confirmation that your body and your own desire for water should be your guide as to how much to imbibe.