Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Can you drink too much water?

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Something that I’ve been hearing a fair amount recently is that you can drink too much water. Ever since the eight cups of water rule-of-thumb was debunked a few years ago it seems that popular opinion is swinging the other way and people are concluding that we should drink less water.

While it’s certainly possible to drink too much water, it’s highly unlikely that the average person will manage to do so in the run of a day. The people dying from hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the body which can be caused by excessive water consumption) are usually athletes who are consuming more water than their bodies have lost and/or not enough accompanying electrolytes. I could also sit at a desk and chug a gallon of water with the same effect, but no one’s ever suggested that this is a good idea.

Okay, so you may not be likely to die from hyponatremia but aren’t you still putting a strain on your kidneys by drinking water throughout the day? Unless you have a medical condition, healthy kidneys can excrete as much as 12 litres of urine a day! (this is according to Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy by Mahan and Escott-Stump). That’s a damn sight more than 8 cups, 2-3 litres, or whichever recommendation you’ve heard. It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to cause damage to your kidneys by drinking water throughout the day and you’re more likely to suffer from dehydration than over-hydration.

Of course, the amount of water each person needs varies. It depends on how much water you’re losing through sweat, your altitude, pregnancy and breastfeeding, health status, etc. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average adult woman needs about 2.2 litres of fluids a day, the average adult man, about 3 litres. Thirst is certainly a great indicator that you should have something to drink. And it’s true that other beverages (yes, even coffee and tea) and foods can contribute to your overall hydration. Water is the most commonly recommended choice as it doesn’t contain any added calories, sugar, or other substances you might wish to avoid. It’s can also be free and is generally easily obtained.

Don’t be scared off by people saying that you can drink too much water. And don’t use it as an excuse to avoid drinking water all day. We are approximately 60% water and we need to consume adequate fluids to maintain healthy body function. Don’t ditch your water bottle!


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Cilantro cleanse

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Oh facebook and your unending perpetuation of useless “cleanses” and weight loss scams. I saw this one about cleaning your kidneys by drinking cilantro or parsley water.

The thing is, toxins don’t accumulate in your kidneys. The kidneys act as filters, removing waste products from your blood, and excreting them in your urine. They don’t hang onto these waste products (1).

Okay, so cilantro and parsley won’t rid your kidneys of toxins, but is there any truth to their use as “detoxifiers”? Well, parsley acts as a diuretic (i.e. it makes you pee more) so, in the sense that it will speed the removal of waste products from your body via urine it’s kind of true. However, it won’t remove any more waste than would be eventually removed if you just waited a little longer to pee.

Years ago, it was reported that a cilantro soup increased excretion of mercury following removal of mercury fillings (2). Since then, cilantro has been popularly touted as a detoxifier via chelation of heavy metals. Unfortunately, since that initial study, there has been little research to support the ability of cilantro to remove heavy metals from the body.

If you like cilantro and parsley water and tea, go ahead, there’s no evidence that consuming it will harm you. However, it’s not going to remove toxins from your kidneys, and it’s unlikely that it will remove toxins from elsewhere in your body.