Claim: Drinking too much can cause dehydration
Source: Okyeame Kwame
Researched by Gifty Tracy Aminu
A popular Ghanaian Musician, Kwame Nsiah-Apau, a.k.a Okyeame Kwame, claims drinking too much water causes dehydration.
“They say drink water if you are in a tropical place like Ghana, but too much water will actually make you dehydrated. It depends on the number of hours you are spending in the sun and your exposure. But if you are my age and you want to keep your brain young, the best type of water is water that has small salt,” he said in a viral video clip that has been viewed more than a million times on X/ Twitter.
This fact-check report seeks to verify 2 claims:
- Whether drinking too much water can cause dehydration
- Whether adding salt to drinking water keeps the brain young
GhanaFact found that the comments by Okyeame Kwame were excerpts from an interview conducted by Joshua Buernortey Boye-Doe and three others, and originally published on a YouTube Channel – Bro Code.
To fact-check the claim, GhanaFact contacted a Senior Clinical Dietitian, RD Maxwell Bisala Konlan, at the University of Ghana Medical Centre and a Registered Dietitian (RD), Beatrice Prah, at the Pentecost Hospital, who debunked both claims.
“The truth is, drinking more water rather prevents dehydration. Dehydration is when the body is deprived of water. And one of the symptoms you are seeing is the body will force you to drink a lot of water. So, you actually crave the water.” RD Maxwell Bisala Konlan said.
He explained that when an individual takes in more water than necessary, it is described as “fluid overload.”
“Most people, when they take three litres, which is six sachets a day, it’s able to meet their needs. There are times when the weather is too hot, so you may [take] a little bit [more]. For me, anything beyond five litres, which is 10 sachets, if you start going beyond 15 or 20, that is too much. And I’ve had a patient who drank over 20 litres and came with water in the lungs. The whole leg was swollen. He almost died. So, they had to suction the water out of the lungs before he could breathe. We call it fluid overload,” he said.
“Drinking more water does not cause dehydration, it rather causes overhydration. With the water, one bottle of 750ml, or 1.5 litres, maybe someone’s more. But based on age or gender, we have various amounts of water you can take. So, for a male adult, it is recommended that you take at least 3.7 litres of water in a day and for females, it should be at least 2.7 litres,” RD, Beatrice Prah of Pentecost Hospital added.
Days after the controversial comment, the musician has shared another video seemingly to buttress the point he made earlier. GhanaFact contacted the manager of the musician, Annica Nsiah-Apau, who referred the team to a Physician and Public Health Specialist at the Public Health Alliance International, Ghana, Dr Samuel Nuama.
“We don’t miseducate the public that drinking too much water, especially when you are losing a lot of salts, you are in the tropics, you are exercising, can actually tip you into some form of dehydration. You see, this is very conditional. The ordinary human being who is going up and about doesn’t have to stand in the sun and doesn’t have to exercise, would not experience this. And so, in that regard. Okyeame Kwame’s statement, if you are taking it on an absolute level, would not be right.” Dr Nuama stated in an interview.
GhanaFact further contacted a Registered and Licensed Dietitian at the Health Promotion Division of the Ghana Health Service, Renee Opare-Otoo (MS, RD), who debunked the claim that drinking too much water makes an individual dehydrated.
“He, saying that drinking too much water can make you dehydrated is not true. It can rather make you over-hydrated. And if you’re overhydrated, what it means is that the electrolytes, or the minerals in your body, or your blood, becomes imbalanced because there’s too much water.”
The claim that drinking too much can cause dehydration is false.
“The truth is, people are exposed to a lot of salt already from food sold outside. You know that the Maggi Cubes people are eating a lot of salty foods and we have always been recommending that people should eat less salt. So, if you are now going to tell people to be adding salt to their water, you are going to increase their rates. And too much salt in water can affect your blood pressure.” RD Maxwell Bisala said in reaction to the claim that one should add small salt to water before drinking to keep the brain young.
“I have not seen anywhere where salt will improve your brain function. That is quite too open and risky to tell the general public that they should be adding salt to their water because it improves their brain. There’s nothing like that. I’m sure maybe he was talking about the electrolytes,” he added.
“The truth is you need water in its natural state. We do not want any water that has added things because that added thing will not have any benefit,” Dr Konlon emphasized.
Responding to the claim: Registered Dietitian, Beatrice Prah also said.“Adding salt to water rather retains the water in the system. I have never come across anything like making the brain younger,”
“When you sweat a lot, you lose both water and something we call electrolytes, which is, the sodium and other substances that are found in sweat. And when you lose these electrolytes, ideally, you’re supposed to replenish them. And so, when you live in a tropical place, and let’s say you’re doing a rigorous activity, you’re probably a sports person, you’ve been in the sun, engaged in sports for a very long time, and you lose so much sweat. Then what happens is that you actually lose a lot of water, but you’ve also lost electrolytes. So, there’s some kind of imbalance in your system. So because of that imbalance, if you drink just ordinary water, that is not mineralized, then what is happening is that you are replacing your water alright, but then you are not replacing those electrolytes that you have lost,” Dr Samuel Nuama explained.
“I think he’s talking more in relation to the electrolytes but he’s explaining it wrongly. We have this saying that everywhere salt goes, water goes. So, if you are adding some salt to your water, it means your body will retain more water, making you well hydrated. And when you are well hydrated, it helps in brain function. But just jumbling everything and saying it as we understand it makes it misinformation. For example, if somebody has a kidney problem or has heart-related issues like hypertension, that is not advisable to do because you would rather cause more problems. So, there is some truth and some misinformation. But, saying that drinking a lot of water will make you dehydrated is not true,” Registered and Licensed Dietitian, Renee Opare-Otto stated.
“You can’t also make a statement that everybody should add a little bit of salt to their water to help keep their brain hydrated because you don’t know what condition somebody has,” she reiterated.
The claim that adding salt to drinking water keeps the brain young is rated false.