Water Makes Me Puffy
The almost universally promoted notion that it is a good idea to be continuously consuming water, has made it such that in some parts of the world it’s practically a crime to walk down the street without a full bottle in your hand.
Even though a healthy person can usually get away with drinking plain water for the purposes of hydration – without sufficient salt and other minerals to go with it – the idea that water (rather than orange juice or milk or some other kind of salty sugary drink) is necessarily therapeutic can be very harmful and even dangerous when metabolism is vulnerable.
The ability of the body to properly regulate salt and water is heavily dependent upon the functioning of thyroid and related metabolic energy systems and when compromised, can be a central issue in the development of many symptoms of degeneration and disease.
In fact the consumption of too much water (especially when metabolism is already sub-optimal) can become one of the factors interfering with thyroid function, in some cases preventing metabolic recovery. What is promoted is a kind of general physiological condition where salt is excessively lost, and water is retained.
“Mild hyponatraemia…may be corrected simply by restriction of water…Severe hyponatraemia…may produce profound neurological disturbances requiring urgent correction…hypertonic saline should be infused to raise the serum sodium concentration…the early pathological change found in patients with severe hyponatraemia is cerebral oedema…”
When thyroid function is under active, water that might otherwise be evaporated through the skin or lungs is held in the tissue, causing a kind of swelling or edema (with cells in essence becoming water logged).
This helps to direct metabolism further towards a stress state, releasing free fatty acids for fuel over sugar, similar to the diabetic state and numerous other inflammatory conditions associated with aging and degeneration.
“…the metabolic adaptation to acute hypo-osmolality resembles that of acute fasting, that is, it results in protein sparing associated with increased lipolysis, ketogenesis and lipid oxidation and impaired insulin sensitivity of glucose metabolism.”
This general shock-like state of stress where water is retained and salt is lost (and where tissue can become hyper-hydrated) is interrelated with issues regarding the proper regulation of the alkaline minerals, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
“The content of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) in sweat during exercise is considerably higher during a relatively low intake of sodium (Na)…we found positive correlations between Na intake and Ca and Mg balances in humans.”
In some cases where respiratory metabolism is compromised by stress (for example if sugar is chronically restricted leading to insufficient energy production) increasing sodium intake is often enough to reduce water retention and swelling and protect against some of the harm, improving overall mineral regulation and general metabolic function.
“…a new strategy to improve the chronic diuretic response by increasing Na [sodium] intake and limiting fluid intake. This counterintuitive approach underlines the need for a better understanding of factors that regulate sodium and water handling in chronic congestive HF [heart failure].”
Whenever thyroid is interfered with and the ability of the body to produce metabolic energy is being limited it can take smaller and smaller amounts of water to further disrupt physiological processes and this can then add momentum to a downward spiral of worsening metabolism and rising stress.
“Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte abnormality in hospitalized patients…Failure of the brain to adapt to the hyponatremia leads to brain damage…In menstruant women, estrogen + vasopressin inhibits the Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase system and decreases cerebral oxygen utilization, impairing brain adaptation.”
Any situation involving stress and the suppression of thyroid metabolism also relates to digestive function and the consumption of excessive amounts of water is no exception.
For starters, drinking too much water in one go can cause stress to the intestines, promoting the release of serotonin – and other stress substances like estrogen and prolactin – all of which encourage the conditions promoting water retention and metabolic suppression.
The increased release of the inflammatory substances can lead to further interference with digestive function. This is likely to magnify bacterial issues and raise endotoxin levels, making conditions more water logged.
Too much water can also reduce stomach acid further interfering with digestive processes and fueling existing bacterial and metabolic stress related issues.
If fat released out of storage as a result of stress is polyunsaturated, this promotes chronic inflammation and more serious long term interference with thyroid function and cellular energy production, including mineral regulation.
It isn’t uncommon for people to consume too much water at the worst possible times. Whenever glycogen stores are low and salt has been lost metabolism will be in more of a stressed state. Under conditions like this excessive water drinking can be harmful and dangerous.
“Hyposmotic swelling in brain occurs in numerous pathologies associated with hyponatremia. This condition occurs either from water excess or from a Na+ deficit. Water excess may come from excessive oral intake…or…impaired renal water elimination as a consequence of…hypothyroidism, and renal or hepatic failure.”
Many popular diet recommendations – the avoidance of calcium and protein from dairy, salt and sugar restriction, polyunsaturated fats, excessive intake of fibers and starches – foster a cocktail of metabolic stress related issues which when combined with excessive water consumption, can in some circumstances create serious and dangerous shock-like states resulting in severe and chronic illness, even death.
“…dietary salt restriction…increased noradrenaline excretion by 77%…strong positive relationship between the excretion of serotonin and of noradrenaline…Salt restriction stimulates the serotonergic system in man.”
It’s not that water per se isn’t important, but there is plenty of water in food and drink and the culture of continuous water guzzling to improve ‘health’ is in many situations, contextually inappropriate.
Specific recommendations for daily water consumption are not generally founded on good physiology and fail to take into account individual variations in metabolism.
“…individual body fluid loss (and sweating rates) are influenced by a number of factors, including pubertal status, and can vary considerably between athletes and exercise conditions…dehydration accompanying prolonged exercise, especially in warm environments, can have health implications…SM [skim milk] is more effective than W [water] or a commercially available sports drink at replacing sweat losses and promoting rehydration.”
Those with youthful high metabolism allowing lots of leeway sometimes do not notice the harm from continuous interference with thyroid systems until much later. But life is full of stress and when combined with restrictive diets plus all the water enforcement, damage happens faster and all sorts of problems become more common at an earlier age.
The suppression of energy systems eventually manifests in a wide variety of symptoms, very often involving a gradually worsening degree of inflammation and water retention, heading towards an increasing susceptibility to aging, degeneration and disease.
It’s better to hydrate on the basis of individual needs. Thirst is a good indicator especially when a person is healthy, however metabolic issues and variations in climate make satisfying thirst with plain water potentially more risky.
“Seizures due to hyponatremia have been reported in an NFL player…who consumed 2 to 3 gallons…of water and at least 1.8 L of sports drinks during the first day of a mini-camp and was encouraged to consume more sports drinks at home. Hyponatremia due to overhydration was ruled to be the cause of death in a high school football player from California.”
Milk and sugar, sweet fruits and fruit juices, all containing varying quantities of sodium (and calcium, magnesium and potassium) and providing sufficient protein and sugar help protect against stress, inflammation, thyroid suppression and related symptoms like swelling or edema.
“The effectiveness of low-fat milk, alone and with an additional 20 mmol/l NaCl [salt] at restoring fluid balance after exercise-induced hypohydration was compared to a sports drink and water…Subjects remained in net positive fluid balance…after drinking the milk drinks but returned to net negative fluid balance 1 h after drinking the other drinks.”
Using salt and sugar cravings as a guide can be useful when experimenting with general stress reduction and thyroid promotion therapy. Salty, sugary chocolate milk has been known to do wonders.
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