Water Water Everywhere But What's A Chap to Drink

by DavalosMcCormack on March 27, 2008

When I was a kid growing up in England we played football (soccer) all the time. At half time we would take a 5 minute break and eat half an orange. At the end of the game we’d have a cup of tea. That was it. And as far as I can remember none of my team mates ever died of dehydration. No one ever collapsed gasping for Gatorade (good thing too as it hadn’t been invented then).

I was thinking about that the other day as I watched people running and jogging along a popular trail. It was a lovely, crisp morning. The sun was out but it wasn’t hot, or even particularly warm. Yet in addition to the ever present iPods, many of the runners also had bottles of water, either in their hand or on a belt around their waist. Some had two – presumably one for on the way out, and the other for on the way back!

It got me wondering when did we become addicted to H2O, when did we feel that we couldn’t safely leave the house without a bottle of some kind of water – preferably one infused with minerals and vitamins and fruit essence.

Part of the problem is the belief that you have to drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day. When did that start? Well, that’s easy enough to say. It began with an English government study during the Second World War. The researcher came up with a formula that pretty much said you need 64ozs of water a day. But that also included water in food – and fruits and veg have a high proportion of water – so it doesn’t just apply to drinking water. The study also said tea and coffee and even alcohol counted. They might make you pee a little bit more than just ordinary water but you still ended up taking in more than you were putting out.

Somehow, that 64oz rule became gospel and suddenly people were unable to leave the house without a bottle of water in their bag or even in a stylish carrying case. Water had not just become a basic necessity of life, it had become a fashion accessory.

Like many aspects of life in America, nothing succeeds like excess. People went overboard on water and the need to have it with them at all times. Even putting aside for the moment both the environmental aspects of all these bottles of water and the fact that many studies show that most bottled waters are no better, and often far worse, than regular tap water, the simple fact that so many people feel they need to drink so much water just to survive shows how out of balance we have become.

So, here’s a basic rule of thumb. If you are thirsty, drink. If you are going to exercise, drink more before and during and even after. If your urine is colorless or just slightly yellow you are probably fine (unless you take a vitamin B supplement which could color it bright yellow). If you exercise a lot and sweat a lot, drink a lot. If you live in a really hot, humid climate you’ll need to drink more than someone who lives in a temperate climate.

It’s simple stuff really. As a species we’ve been doing it for millions of years. It’s unlikely our ancestors migrated out of Africa with a club in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. And look how far they came. So I think it’s pretty safe to say that you can go for a walk, without water, and not have to worry too much if you’ll make it home alive.

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