On a typical procrastination web page tree of randomness, I happened up on an article about how celebrity chef/British food vixen Nigella Lawson admits that she is “an aquaholic,” in other words, someone that is addicted to water. The headline reads: “Nigella Lawson admits: ‘I’m an aquaholic’, as it emerges she has been warned over health risks of excessive water intake.” They then show one photo out of the millions out there in the interwebs of Nigella holding several bottles of water and conclude that she must be addicted.
We’ve heard of lots of addictions. Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sex, sugar, even McDonald’s, but WATER? Seriously people. Attempting to foster at least one healthy habit, I have trained myself to have water around all the time so that I will drink more of it. Water has promised (and proved, more or less) to be a cure-all for such personal ailments as skin issues, digestive problems, energy dissipation, and, you know, inability to survive.
Skeptical, I turned to none other than the very interwebs that spewed out this trashy non-article that is almost definitely not true and definitely definitely stupid.
Aquaholicism. Let’s see. I type it into Google. I see an article titled, “Aquaholic drinks himself to death by gorging on a horsepipe.” I laugh. I read. I feel bad that I laughed because the aquaholic is mentally ill. I read that his brother “criticized the care home looking after him” because his brother “who had been addicted to drinking water for 30 years – should never have been left alone near free-flowing water.” I laugh again. An attendant at the care home says, “A little later I looked out into the garden and saw him trying to turn the hosepipe tap off. His jumper and knees were wet, so for me it was clear he had been drinking again.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, drinking WATER again. When they intervened, they found him dead from hyponatremia, an electrolyte disturbance in which the sodium concentration in the blood plasm is lower than normal, oftentimes due to dilution from water.
Hyponatrema is usually caused by other ailments, including congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or the use of diuretics, but can be caused by extreme ingestion of water (usually over 12 liters or 12 giant soda containers that you might buy for a party).
But does water addiction really exist? Upon further research (combing through many ridiculous “health” forums and many other newspapers’ recount of the aquaholic mentioned above), I found an article in the Scientific American explaining that indeed, there are individuals who, in an attempt to hydrate (or engage in competitive drinking competitions), develop hyponatremia, a condition that can be fatal. In a culture that has adopted the 8-8 ounce glasses of water a day dictum, are we several cups away from hyponatremia?
Well, no. A fatal condition as a result of water consumption is usually accompanied by other conditions, that healthy human beings tend not to have, but the message of this report is that you really should drink when you’re thirsty, and not simply because it’s there and you’re trying to exceed the recommended 8 glasses a day.
As for Nigella Lawson, I feel like her Death by Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe would sooner kill her than her water addiction, but if she gets her hands on a garden hose, who knows anymore?