Monday, May 13, 2013

Water water everywhere

I have increased my biking efforts. This month I'm participating in the Team Bike Challenge here in the Bay Area, so I'm even choosing to bike to places I used to always bus to, like Albany Bowl. It was either a 30 minute bike ride or a 20 minute bus ride.

The kids at Albany Bowl:

I've noticed that with the regular demands of living, breastfeeding, and now biking, I drink a small pond every day. I drink so much water it amazes me. I'm always drinking, drinking, drinking.

What I wonder, though, is why. Why do we need so much water? Some animals get enough water from the things they eat, or absorb it from their surroundings. Why haven't we figured out how to do that?

I know civilizations cropped up in places where there is accessible water. That's obviously required. But did these places and civilizations allow for everyone to get 8 cups of fresh water every day?

I remember playing Oregon Trail as a kid and coming across water in the game and fording rivers. I imagined people needing to drink lots of water in between the river fordings. I assume they found small streams and creeks of water. But when it was a person's turn to get water for the day, was s/he thinking, "Ok. We have 6 people in our family. So that's 3 gallons of drinking water and some extra for cleaning and cooking today. Glad it's Nathan's turn to do this tomorrow?"

Were the people in Mesopotamia getting 8 cups of water every day? Were the hunter/gatherers? Somebody along the line must have, otherwise we'd have developed different water needs than what we have today. Or has all of humankind been perpetually dehydrated? And if so, why haven't we figured that out evolutionarily?

Any anthropologists in the house? Do we know much about the water-drinking habits of our ancestors? Can we?

These are the questions that run through my head when I down yet another water bottle. I also wonder about the many many people in the world lacking in adequate water and need to remind myself to pass on the water love.

Anyone want to tackle these questions? I'm sure there's a book out there, yes? Or a dissertation?


  1. Well one big thing is we dont just eat produce like animals who get all their water from what they eat. When i did eat to live and 80-90% of what I ate was fresh fruits and veggies I didnt drink nearly as much water. maybe 4 glasses a day. I usually figure when I am really thirsty all the time its a sign I am not eating enough fresh produce.

  2. The recommendation for 8 glasses of water has been a misinterpretation for years of a study done in the 50's(?). The actual recommendation is that you imbibe the equivalent in ounces of liquid, including in the foods you eat. It is definitely less easy to measure but it is fairly easy to tell if you are dehydrated just by looking at your urine output. Also the adage "If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated"? Total bunk. What other mammal (including carnivores) would completely ignore their biofeedback mechanisms and drink beyond desire/thirst in a non survival situation?

  3. Check Eat for Heat by Matt Stone. You can start with his blog - He advocates drinking less water than most health-obsessed Americans are drinking, and he says that excessive thirst is a symptom of OVERhydration. I'm not sure how I feel about that logically -- like Carrie said, shouldn't we be able to trust our thirst? But I tried it, and once I stopped downing water constantly, the excessive thirst went away. Matt has the scientific explanation for it, but I forgot what it was. Something to do with osmosis and the concentration of the various solutions in our bodies, I'm sure.

    After I heard Matt's ideas, I thought OK, is this just another fad, or the imaginations of someone who just doesn't like water? But then I thought about everything you just wrote -- what are the chances that humans throughout time were able to carry and drink 64+ ounces of water per day? I doubt they did.


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