Friday, April 15, 2005

Water, Water Everywhere

About 15 or 20 years ago, I started hearing that people ought to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Don't know where they idea and numbers came from, but I just don't like water that much. I've tried to boost my H20 intake throughout the day, but I always end up before bed gagging down the remaining required ounces into a bloated, sloshing belly. Funny, doesn't feel healthy. Even when I manage to meet the numbers, I resent double-digit bathroom visits per day- I've got a life to live. Doesn't my love for soup and melon accomplish anything?

Are our bodies so poorly designed that we regularly harm ourselves by drinking too little and failing to feel thirsty as we perish?
The scientists who wrote the Hydration Survey at Bottled Water Web say YES:

Wait a minute! These guys have a vested interest in me filling my yaw with their water products!

Don't other beverages, even if caffeinated, have some hydrating affect? The nutritionist writing for the Food Safety Network says YES:

Wait a minute! This research was published by Coca-Cola which has a vested interest in me quenching my thirst with its sweet fizzula!

Go Ask Alice, a feature of the Health Services at Columbia University, splits the difference. I've excerpted and bolded for your convenience:

...However, during the Spring of 2004, the Institute of Medicine issued new hydration guidelines that now advise women to consume 91 ounces of fluid (2.7 liters or approximately eleven 8-ounce cups), and men, 128 ounces (3.7 liters or sixteen 8-ounce cups), and, different from before, all beverages count....Because not all nutritionists and other health care providers agree with the report, hydration remains a hotly debated topic... notice the color of your urine. If it's dark yellow or orange, you may be dehydrated. Urine that is very light yellow or clear and colorless like water is a sign of a hydrated body. And if you're thirsty, drink your fluids.

So I can trust my thirst reflex not to kill me as long as I audit my toilet leavings accurately. Super.

I've pushed aside the conflict in favor of self-knowledge and experience. I drink enough of the beverages I enjoy (and water, too) so that I feel "not thirsty", but don't have to carry a catheter.

But whatever YOUR current opinion, here's the newest, horrible wrinkle in the debate. Our culture's physical elite, marathon runners, are having seizures and dropping dead from drinking too much water during races, dangerously thinning their blood and swelling the tissues of their brains.

NOW WHAT WILL WE DO?! what will we do....

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