For the first time, researchers have found that there is a mechanism that regulates how much fluid should we include in our body and that warns us when we drink too much. The same study also questions the popular recommendation that we should drink eight glasses of water per day.
Researchers at Monash University have found that our brain reacts when we enter too much fluid in our body. The brain activates the so-called “inhibition of swallowing” mechanism, which helps to accurately determine how much water should we enter into our body.
Based on an earlier study, the researchers have asked the participants to estimate how much effort is required to drink sips of water in two cases: after exercise, when they were thirsty, and later, when they were asked to drink a large amount of water.
The result showed that is required three times greater effort to drink excessive amounts of water. For the first time it was discovered that we as humans, when trying to drink more water than we need, must invest considerable additional effort. And that was in accordance with the knowledge that the swallowing reflex inhibits when we drink enough water (the researchers found this by following the brain activity of subjects through MRI).
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As summary, this study suggests the following: if we do exactly what our body requires, we will probably do the right thing – drink in accordance with how much we are thirsty, but not with a predetermined schedule. Therefore, the recommendation to drink eight glasses of water should not be taken for granted. We should focus on our thirst and drink water when we are thirsty.
Drinking too much water can lead to the so-called. “water intoxication”, or hyponatremia, when the levels of sodium in the blood drops too much. This condition can cause mild symptoms, such as nausea, or more dangerous simptoms, such as convulsions and loss of consciousness. Good example can be found in marathon and ultra-marathon runners, who out of ignorance or other reasons, drink only water, but not compensate it adequately with electrolytes (sodium or potassium).