Hyponatremia

I’ve been reading Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans: the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. As with all of his books, I start of skeptical about its value, and then learn a lot that I can apply to my own life.

In one bit I was reading, he mentions ‘hyponatremia’ which is defined by Wikipedia in the following way:

Hyponatremia is a low sodium level in the blood. It is generally defined as a sodium concentration of less than 135 mmol/L (135 mEq/L), with severe hyponatremia being below 120 mEql/L. Symptoms can be absent, mild or severe. Mild symptoms include a decreased ability to think, headaches, nausea, and poor balance. Severe symptoms include confusion, seizures, and coma.

In other words, if you drink too much water, you dilute your salt levels.

I’m keen to avoid migraine triggers, and had assumed that one of these was dehydration. As a result, I always have a bottle of water with me, and drink constantly throughout the day. Despite this (so I thought) I’d get headaches and sometimes migraines.

In retrospect, I think that I perhaps occasionally get into a state of hyponatremia. Over the last few days, therefore, and as Ferriss recommends, I’ve been adding a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar to my water bottle during and after exercise. It doesn’t taste great, to be honest, but so far seems to be having the desired effect.

Of course, this is what ‘isotonic’ sports drinks do. Except they jack up the sugar so you can’t taste the salt.