How much water should you drink?

When I was recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome and hypoglycemia, I noticed a strange thing. If I drank a glass of water on an empty stomach, a short while afterwards I would start to suffer from hypoglycemic symptoms.

I couldn’t understand this. I was trying to drink more water, to “flush out toxins” from my body. I asked my doctor. He was an outstanding doctor, who diagnosed my hypoglycemia and helped me a lot with my diet.

He assured me water could not cause hypoglycemia. So I just assumed I must be unique in this regard.

Then I read a couple of books by Dale Alexander – “Arthritis and Common Sense’ and “Good Health and Common Sense”. I didn’t have arthritis but I picked up the book because it was a huge best seller at the time (early 1980’s).

Alexander recommended people with arthritis should drink less water – particularly with meals. His theory was that excessive water interfered with digestion. I don’t think this is scientifically correct. But the end result of drinking less water appears to have had positive benefits for thousands of people who recovered from arthritis by following Dale Alexander’s advice.

He also stressed the importance of good fats and oils in the diet. He recommended cod liver oil and dairy products as containing the right fats and oils for good health. He advised people with arthritis to drink at least three glasses of whole milk a day – one glass of milk with each meal.

I know of someone who was suffering from heart disease who followed Dale Alexander’s diet. He cut back on drinking water, drank milk (and also added in some wine, which is not strictly in the diet). He not only recovered from heart disease but also started growing hair on his previously bald head!

Dale Alexander’s ideas about reducing water consumption resonated with me – even though his books were starting to go out of fashion by the time I read them. The low fat diet fad was starting to take hold by then. People were being advised to stop consuming whole milk or butter.

But I still tried to follow the advice to drink less water because I felt instinctively that it was correct.

Many years later, I discovered the writings of Matt Stone. He’s a controversial health researcher, who challenges a lot of mainstream dietary advice.

His most popular books are “Eat for Heat” and “Diet Recovery” editions 1 and 2. He’s also written a fascinating book called “Hypoglycemia: What it is, What it Isn’t, and How to Fix It.”

Matt Stone pays a lot of attention to the amount of fluids consumed in the diet. He is one of the few health writers to challenge the mainstream advice that you need to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.

In fact, he claims excessive consumption of liquids can cause many health problems.

He believes many (if not most) cases of so-called hypoglycemia are actually hyponatremia – or low salt levels proportional to the water content in our extracellular fluids.

Without getting too technical, essentially he’s saying when you drink too much water, you flush out salt and other essential minerals. This can lead to a whole host of health problems, due to a lowered metabolic rate.

People with a reduced metabolic rate (this includes people with hypoglycemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue, low thyroid etc.) have a lower threshold for water. So, a healthy person can drink a pint of water and not have to pee for several hours. When they do, their urine is still a nice healthy yellow color.

But if you have a low metabolism, you will find water will “go right through you”. Even a single glass of water will have you peeing frequently for hours afterwards. And your urine will be clear.

If you notice this in yourself, along with cold hands and feet, it is a clear sign of a low metabolism.

Matt Stone notes people who are trying to eat “healthy” tend to consume a lot of foods that are high in water content – fruits, vegetables, juices, smoothies etc. – as well as drinking lots of water. If they also limit their salt intake, they are setting themselves up for hyponatremia.

To quote from Matt Stone: “Taking in too much liquid causes frequent clear urination, and this is often accompanied by negative symptoms indistinguishable from ‘hypoglycemia’.”

I was interested to read recently a newspaper article by an American living in Japan. He noted how the Japanese appear to hardly drink any water – even in the height of summer. They drink green tea with meals (in tiny cups) but not plain water. In contrast, American tourists in Japan carry around water bottles and keep chugging back water all the time, which the Japanese apparently find hilarious.

If you are currently trying to follow the mainstream advice to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, I recommend you reconsider this.

Particularly if you are urinating frequently and your urine is clear, this is a sign you are drinking too much. You should be able to last several hours without urinating. And your urine should be yellow.

I agree absolutely with Matt Stone’s advice in this regard. I have proven it in my own experience. Drinking too much liquid can cause symptoms similar to hypoglycemia and might be contributing to a whole lot of your health problems.

As with everything else, you need to follow your own body and common sense in this regard. Drink when you are thirsty. Do not drink when you are not thirsty (despite what the so-called experts tell you about the risk of getting dehydrated). If you drink only when you are thirsty, you will not get dehydrated. Most health conscious people in the western world today are over-hydrated, not dehydrated.

Use the frequency and color of your urine as a guide. Frequent, clear urination means you are drinking too much. And if your hands and feet are always cold, that’s another warning sign.

Experiment with this. It could be the missing link in your search for better health.

2 thoughts on “How much water should you drink?”

  1. Interesting Chris! I have only just started to drink 2 ltrs a day according to current teachings. I’m not really ever a thirsty person so I’ve had to force myself to drink even if I don’t feel I need it. I’m trying to lose weight and today I have felt bloated and my feet are swollen so it is maybe fluid gathering. I’ll try to reduce my intake for a few days and see how I go. Thanks for this website I’m looking forward to hearing more

    • Thanks Karen. It’s not wise to force yourself to drink if you are not thirsty. In traditional Chinese medicine, they warn about drinking too much liquid. It puts a stress on the kidneys and causes fluid build up in many people, as you have discovered.

      Look at the color of your urine. If it is clear or light yellow, you are drinking too much. If it is medium yellow, you are drinking the right amount. If it is very dark yellow, you need to drink more.

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