Remember when you were a kid and all your coaches and camp counselors and those vaguely hippie-ish guys who took your youth group hiking would tell you to drink, even when you weren’t thirsty? Turns out they were trying to murder you.
The Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine published new guidelines on hydration that essentially boiled down to “Drink only when you’re thirsty.” That sounds like something that doesn’t need to be said, except everyone who has done even amateur sports, or gone hiking or camping, has been advised to keep drinking all the time, even when they’re not thirsty. I remember hiking instructors who told people to drink until their urine was completely clear. This is one of the pieces of advice that the journal specifically warns against.
Too much liquid leads to hyponatremia. The overworked kidneys can’t excrete water fast enough. The sodium levels in the body get too low. Sodium helps cells regulate their fluid intake. Too little sodium in the liquid surrounding cells, and osmosis causes liquid to pass through the cell membrane and pour into the cell. The body’s cells swell, and can even burst.