Originally Posted by kaplods
Three or four years ago, my mother was hospitalized for water intoxication (also called water poisoning and water overdose - which causes a dangerous drop in electrolytes, especially sodium). She was hospitalized for more than a week (who is hospitalized that long any more) they tried to get her sodium levels into a safe range).
She was almost killed because she believed many of the current water myths. She was only drinking a little more than a gallon a day, and yet it was too much for her. She could easily have died, and she did end up with permanent kidney damage because she believed what her Weight Watchers leader told her (that she had to drink extra water because of her extra pounds, that coffee and tea didn't count and she had to drink extra to compensate for caffeine).
I think this study is far less "dangerous" than all the diet myths that have become so firmly entrenched in our culture that they pass for fact and "common wisdom" to the point that even many doctors believe them (because they've heard them so often).
What concerns me most about the water myths is that they keep getting more and more extreme (like gossip, fish stories, and games of telephone).
At first it was 2 quarts of liquids including those from food
Then it was 2 quarts of liquid in addition to food
Then it was 2 quarts of non-cafeinated liquid in addition to food and caffeinated liquids.
Then it was 2 quarts of unflavored, "pure" water.
Then it was 2 quarts of unflavored, pure water PLUS an additional glass of water for every glass of caffeinated beverage (this is where my mother's water intake was at when she had the water poisoning).
Then it was 2 quarts of water plus two additional glasses of water for every glass of caffeinated beverage.
Then it was one half ounce of water per pound of body weight - plus additional water to compensate for caffeinated beverages (if you're morbidly obese, this amount of water can be fatal, especially if you happen to be on a blood pressure medication or are not eating loads of salt).
The kidney specialist called in on my mother's case told us that water poisoning was once so rare that even kidney specialists rarely saw more than once case per lifetime, and now even general practitioners are becoming familiar with it. Also, the cases used to be only seen in marathon and extreme athletes, mentally ill folk with water drinking compulsion, and people trying to pass a drug screen thinking that gallons of water would do it. That's no longer true. He said they're seeing it in people of all ages and health levels, and he believed the water myths were largely to blame.
I used to teach college classes in psychology and human development, and I taught that water intoxication is virtually impossible in a healthy person (because that's what we used to believe), but that's not true anymore, because so many of the water myths out there encourage ridiculous amounts of fluids. You can get water poisoning even if you never drink plain water, and only drink other beverages (or even only drink coffee) because caffeine doesn't provide enough water to actually dehydrate you. So an 8 ounce cup of coffee isn't "dehydrating" it just provides a little less hydration than an 8 ounce glass of water. That means that coffee doesn't provide zero hydration, and it definitely doesn't promote dehydration. It does contribute to your water needs, but may be equal to 6 or 7.5 ounces of plain water - it certainly is not equivalent to negative 8-16 ounces of water as some of the water myths suggest.
This study is just one small spit in the wind, compared to all the dangerous myths (that more and more people are believing to be gospel truth) that encourage ridiculous amounts of water.