Is water therapy harmful to the body?

I heard about water therapy, which states that if I consume 1.5 liters of water every morning after I wake up, the water will clean my bowel and the toxins found in my body. This therapy is supposedly beneficial to patients with hypertension and diabetes. How effective is water therapy? Will it cause my body any harm?

Dr Stanley Liew Choon Fong, Specialist in Endocrinology, Raffles Hospital

In general, an adult would need to consume approximately 2.5 litres of water daily. However, we obtain about a litre of water from food. Therefore, this leaves only 1.5 litres to be consumed in the form of fluid. In other words, most of us need to drink around 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day. This amount should be spread out during the course of the day as guided by our thirst sensation.

The concept that a large amount of water consumed in the morning can cleanse the bowel may be over simplistic. Most of the water we drink is absorbed in the gut, and then used by the cells in our body. The kidneys would excrete the excess water. So, very little water is left behind in the gut to “clean” the bowel. Otherwise, we would all be having diarrhoea after drinking a large amount of water.

There is no scientific evidence that “water therapy” has any specific benefits to people with hypertension or diabetes. In fact, healthy diet, regular exercise and keeping body weight in the healthy range are the best lifestyle modifications for people with hypertension and diabetes.

Consuming 1.5 litre of water in one go can even be harmful as this is almost approaching the limit which can result in water intoxication. Also, drinking an excessive amount of fluid is not advisable for those with weak heart, which can be present in people with hypertension and diabetes. If in doubt, they should consult their doctors.

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