“Drinking Too Much Plain Water Can Harm Your Health”-True?

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Top Doc: “Drinking Too Much Plain Water Can Harm Your Health” — Here’s What to Drink Instead to Have More Energy + Lose Weight

Just about every doctor and nutrition expert on the planet recommends drinking water. It also seems to be the one thing that every non-expert agrees on — from the keto meat eater to the leafy-green plant eater. And it makes sense, considering that our bodies comprise roughly 60% water. Still, most of us aren’t sipping enough of the right kind of fluids to optimize our bodily functions. And we’re tired, dizzy, constipated, and dragging around a few too many pounds.

Indeed, when it comes to women in midlife and older, dehydration has reached epidemic proportions. As many as 95% of women over age 40 are dehydrated, asserts Howard Murad, MD, author of The Water Secret. “As we age, stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins damage the body’s cell membranes, weakening their ability to hold water,” he explains. “This damage leads to subclinical dehydration and the exhaustion, headaches, brain fog, mysterious cravings, and weight gain that follow.”

But as important as drinking water is to our health, proper hydration can be surprisingly elusive—especially as we age. As our cell membranes become less able to conduct water into our cells, it takes a special kind of water to attain an actual state of hydration. That’s where “electrolyte water” comes in.

What is electrolyte water?

Electrolyte water most commonly includes electrolytes — minerals that carry an electrical charge when dissolved in water to help revitalize the cells in the body and optimize their overall function — like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Electrolyte water is becoming so popular that manufacturers are producing versions in hundreds of flavors and variations — and they’re flying off store shelves.

Liquid IV water on a grocery store shelf
The Image Party/Shutterstock

What is liquid IV?

One brand of electrolyte powder that has made a big splash is Liquid IV. The name elicits an image of getting a quick infusion of health-boosting nutrients, much like people get intravenously at the hospital, without any painful needles or pokes. Touted as a “hydration multiplier,” this powdered mineral mix comes in individual packets — also called “sticks” — that can be added to bottles or glasses of water.

Each packet promises to deliver hydration two times faster and more effectively than plain water alone. Tests have also shown these packets hold three times more electrolytes than the traditional sports drinks of our youth, like Gatorade. Another electrolyte mix sticks brand popular among keto enthusiasts is LMNT.

These types of ready-made mineral mixes get a thumbs up from hydration experts. “An electrolyte drink mix made without added sugars would be the first thing I’d recommend to help people hydrate effectively and quickly,” asserts Dana Cohen, MD, author of Quench. Her advice: “Start salting your water, not your food.”

Why do we need electrolyte water?

Electrolytes play several crucial roles inside the human body. These nutrients help nerves transmit electrical impulses and support muscle function, preventing muscle cramps and fatigue. Electrolytes also help the body maintain a healthy pH balance and support the kidneys in their crucial role of filtering fluid and toxins.

Nutrition expert Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., NY Times bestselling author of over 35 books, including The New Fat Flush Plan, explains, “Minerals are the spark plugs of life, and adding electrolytes to water is a perfect hydration solution.”

“When we talk about dehydration, we’re often not only losing water but also electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which are critical for bodily and cellular functions,” explains Dr. Cohen. “To properly replenish what we lose through sweat, we need not only to replace water but electrolytes,” as happens when drinking electrolyte water like Liquid IV.

And it’s not just people who exercise who benefit from electrolytes. The body uses up minerals for countless other reasons — like to process alcohol or sugar that we’ve consumed, or when we’re sick, or undergoing medical treatment when pregnant or breastfeeding, or even traveling or stressed.

Electrolyte water versus plain water

“Drinking too much plain water can flush out vital nutrients and electrolytes from our cells and tissues, harming our health and limiting our body’s ability to perform,” explains Dr. Cohen. Researchers have found that our cells have a hard time absorbing plain water to undo chronic, low-level dehydration like the kind we may experience daily and not realize.

When we lack sodium, potassium, and magnesium — as many of us do — we’re dehydrated on a cellular level. And when we experience noticeable symptoms like thirst or weakness, we’ve already been dry for a while. James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., author of The Obesity Fix, agrees with Dr. Cohen, saying, “True hydration is replenishing water, plus lost minerals.”

How electrolyte water helps with weight loss

Replacing the body’s minerals by drinking electrolyte water, like Liquid IV, has another perk: It can control cravings. Research shows we are urged to overeat when our bodies lack water or minerals. Dr. DiNicolantonio says, “We seek out food, like a bag of salty chips, to obtain the salt our body demands.”

Dr. Cohen asserts, “Most of the time when we feel hungry, we’re dehydrated.” But that hunger leads us to reach for food rather than ultra-hydrating liquids, so we lose the ability to sense what genuine thirst feels like in the body. And this malfunction seems to only worsen over time. Dr. Cohen explains, “After a lifetime of learning to ignore our thirst, the mechanism goes numb.”

When we replace minerals, however, and achieve proper hydration, it leads to effortless slimming. The proof: When people in a University of California-Irvine study added electrolytes to their diet, they shed 56 pounds in 6 weeks.

How to make electrolyte water even better than Liquid IV

To achieve the deep hydration only possible with mineral-infused water, you can try Liquid IV packets for yourself, buy on Amazon ($24.66 for 16 servings), or create your electrolyte mix to add to water at home. For a time-tested recipe, we turned to health and weight-loss guru Jorge Cruise, bestselling author of more than 20 books. For more than 20 years, Cruise has been helping women control their cravings and achieve proper hydration. His secret weapon is his homemade recipe for Zero Hunger Water. Follow this recipe to make this DIY electrolyte mix in bulk.


1/4 tsp. salt (like Redmond Real Salt (buy on Amazon, $10.84)

1/8 tsp. potassium chloride powder (like Nutricost, buy on Amazon, $23.94)

1/16 tsp. magnesium glycinate powder (like Doctor’s Best), buy on Amazon, $17.07

1/4 tsp. Glycine powder (like Nutricost, buy on Amazon, $21.95), optional


Combine all the ingredients in an empty water bottle and mix well. Add 16 oz. of filtered water and shake. Sip throughout the day to quell cravings, refilling as needed. Each bottle contains roughly 500 mg. of sodium, 500 mg. of glycine, 200 mg. of potassium, and 60 mg. of magnesium. Add one packet of TRUE orange, grapefruit, or lime crystalized flavoring for optional flavor and sweeten with stevia or monk fruit to taste. Add this mix to other beverages, such as iced tea or mocktails.

Cruise recommends drinking around 32 ounces of electrolyte water every two hours. Women with high blood pressure should consult their doctor before changing their sodium intake.

While three electrolytes — sodium, potassium, and magnesium — in this recipe are familiar to most of us, one thing on the list may sound new: the amino acid glycine. “Glycine improves the absorption of sodium, so it strengthens the hydration abilities of electrolyte water to turn off false hunger,” says Dr. DiNicolantonio. Cruise has added glycine to his slimming Zero Hunger Water recipe. Cruise finds, “Glycine makes electrolyte water three times more powerful in giving people radical hunger control.”

Real-world proof of the slimming power of electrolyte water

Cruise is amazed by the slimming results he’s seen in his clients who use this electrolyte water recipe. “I think of it as the over-50 fat cure,” says Cruise, who routinely witnesses clients lose up to 2 pounds daily following his hydration advice. Sandy Rosser, 60, of Fayetteville, N.C., lost 95 pounds with Cruise’s electrolyte water. She shares, “Calorie counting never addressed the root of my problem, which was mineral deficiency!”

Cruise sums it up, saying, “If you’re always craving carbs, sweets, or salty snacks, it’s actually ‘false hunger’ triggered by an electrolyte imbalance.”

For more information, listen to Jorge Cruise’s “Zero Hunger Guy” podcast, sign up for his free Zero Hunger Water Club, and receive support at ZeroHungerWater.com.

Anusuya Choudhury

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