Friday, January 15, 2010

Water Intoxication - Yikes!

In the midst of the winter blahs and with 5-10 pounds of holiday weight to get rid of, I had a crazy scheme of drinking nothing but water this coming Sunday – and a lot of it. I thought that I would try and see just how many litres of water I could ingest over an 8 hour period while fasting from food. It would purely be in the name of science to see how much I could take in and what would be the effects on my overall mental and physical self.

I started looking around at what sort of achievements had been reached when it came to power water drinking. Hell, I might even be looking at a world record!

Thankfully, I did do some research. It seems that people die from drinking too much water. A little known condition called water intoxication can result in death if too much water is ingested too fast. Now, that is strange indeed.

It turns out that the kidneys can only process about 1 litre of fluid per hour. Consuming too much water too fast can force your blood to become more dilute with low sodium concentrations. The sodium concentration in your blood becomes lower than the concentration in your cells. The water moves from the blood to the cells causing them to swell.

The killer is that your brain swells with the resulting pressure causing headaches and loss of functions such as breathing. Without breathing, we are quite challenged to survive! Thus, possibly resulting in death.

This is more apt to affect the elderly, babies, those having an operation and those participating in extreme physical challenges (marathon running on a hot day). Apparently, water intoxication is a risk for those on the drug ecstasy. The drug makes the user incredibly thirsty and they literally drink themselves to death.

Andy Warhol is perhaps the most famous person to die of apparent water intoxication. He was in for a routine procedure and was fed too much water intravenously.

After putting the fear into everyone, it is quite unlikely that this will ever be a problem for you. It is said that the fear of water intoxication will probably kill more people by driving them to dehydration!

The plan now for Saturday evening until Monday morning is a fruit only fast. I still do not see myself joining the Fruitarians, but I have a huge curiosity about what the short term effects of a fruit only diet will be. I’m even going to give up my coveted green tea for the duration. Supposedly, I won’t even need to drink any water because I will get sufficient amounts from all the raw fruit I’ll be eating. However, I will have a water bottle on the bench when I play hockey on Sunday night.

I’ve been feeling the winter blahs pretty bad this year and I need to get out of the funk I’m in and take off a few of the X-mas pounds. My goal is to do something drastic to kick start a change and bring back the energy. I’ll let you know how it goes in as much detail as possible.

Other posts you may enjoy:

Fruitarians, Canadian Communists and the Biggest Loser
24-Hour Fasting

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