No Comments on Hydration

It’s got what cells crave

The internet is as full of articles about drinking water as the oceans are of undrinkable water. This is not going to be a typical article about it, but it is going to cover some of the basics. You likely aren’t drinking enough water, and it is having a great impact on your day to day life.

The body uses water in a variety of ways: we’re mostly made of water, we sweat water (among other things), we use water to flush out our system of normal waste and harmful waste: as fun of a topic as diarrhea is, the reason you have to stay hydrated is that your body is flooding that part of your body with fluid in an attempt to wash away the irritant. Your body wants to stay alive and will to all sorts of damage to itself in order to facilitate that, and it’ll certainly make you uncomfortable to stay alive — a fever is the body attempting to fight an infection, in most cases.

Dehydration does a lot of things and one of those is to make you uncomfortable even if you’re not aware that’s the cause. Hunger pangs are often actually the body trying to get you to drink water. Soda is not water, milk is not water, alcoholic beverages are the opposite of water, and coffee is not water. They contain water but they are not: stop using them as your primary source for drinking.

Unless you are in the jungle, anyway: rumor has it while filming the African Queen, Bogart only drank whiskey. The rest of the cast and crew all developed dysentery, but Bogart did not. The water was what did it (which is a cruel irony), and he had none of that.

Personally, I drink coffee and I drink alcohol. But I also consume just plain water often. My go-to water vessel is a Klean Kanteen. Stainless steel and 27 ounces, it’s easy to clean and there’s no weird plastic in it. I swapped out the lid for a stainless lid as well. That’s not the entirety of water I drink, but I take this thing everywhere. (I also have a BPA free plastic water jug I got at a local grocer, I believe it is 32 ounces.)

One of the side effects of drinking the correct amount of water is increased urination. Do not be alarmed. But whether you get enough water or not note the color of your urine periodically. At least some of the time it should be closer to the color of vodka than whiskey. Urine also smells — like urine. If it smells particularly foul you may have a problem. If it is particularly dark, you may have a problem. See a doctor, I’m just some guy.

Speaking of alcohol, above I said that it is the opposite of water and this is demonstrably true: the products they make for swimmer’s ear are basically alcohol to “dry out” the water in your ear. It’s denatured and not the kind you can drink, but it is alcohol. That’s why it smells that way. Another bit of evidence: being hungover is partially caused by dehydration, which is caused by too much alcohol and not enough water in your blood and digestive system. You overload your body with something that is basically the reverse of what it needs and craves, and it punishes you.

If you drink twice as much water as you do alcohol, you won’t be hungover. Actual alcohol, not the volume of the drink: beer has much less alcohol than spirits do and is much harder to get hungover on unless you go on a real bender. The water also takes up room in your stomach and limits the amount of drink you can have, which is another benefit:

You’ll eat less. Often we think we are hungry when we are thirsty. A big glass of water will sate all but the truest of hunger pangs. Want to lose weight?

Even if you don’t, your cells are made up of the stuff. I’ve heard stories of men working in the desert drinking a gallon of water and being able to feel their body absorb it nearly instantly to re-hydrate them. Unhealthy, dried out cells don’t function as well. In plants the cells turn brown and it starts to die and this is happening to dehydrated people, too. It just takes a lot longer when you’re chronically dehydrated but you’re also used to it.

When I doubled my water intake — from just drinking the Klean Kanteen to drinking both containers a day and then some at home I noticed a remarkable change in my mood, my sleep, and the way I felt. There was nothing else that changed during this time period. Every part of me just seemed to start working better.

There are certain sexual side effects.

While there may not be a scientific study to prove it think hard about this. Snot is formed partially from water and if you are sick and you get dehydrated your body cannot use that as effectively to remove irritants. You can’t cry as easily if you don’t have enough water to make tears. Your blood is going to get dibs before either of those on the water. But there are other bodily fluids heavily dependent on water. Men: enough water will increase your output volume (celery juice, too). Women: To be blunt, water is wet.

Also, vigorous activity on any sort brings on sweating which expels water from your body at a near miraculous rate. Once while working in the heat I probably had close to 100 ounces of water in a day and didn’t have to piss once. (I also craved salt like nobody’s business, so note: increasing water lowers your water:electrolyte ratio and that can be deadly. Make sure you get enough of everything your body needs.)

All I’m saying, in this fun (for me) post, is that your car’s engine works better when the fluids are all kept at the proper levels. Your body is an engine, too, and its only required fluid is water (it makes the rest).