– Or: How Hydro means more than just cheap electricity –

Water is one of the most important components of the shambling mounds we call our Terran human bodies.  I am willing to bet at least TWO ENTIRE EARTH DOLLARS that almost every single pair of partially dehydrated eye-socket orbs gazing at this missive is not consuming enough of it on a daily basis. Depending on the article quoted, there are reports that anywhere between 50%-80% of all American Humans do not drink enough water each day.  Which means that those two-hundred pennies have a strong chance of remaining in my pocket.  Weighing me down.  Uneven on one side, making one leg drag and destroying the OCD part of my brain that requires evenness at all times in every aspect.

Where was I?  Oh yes.  Water consumption.  Right.

Why in the (mostly water-covered) world is this the topic this week?  Partly because it popped into my head as a shower thought and I don’t have any filters, and partly because … actually … it’s not a bad thing to talk about where healthy stuffs are concerned.  Let’s dive (HAHEHAHAEHEAHE!!) into it.

Water we talking about here exactly?

In my resolve to be resolute in my resolutions,  I have vowed that more water will be consumed every day this year. There are a small handful of reasons for this:

  • Water is good for you
  • It keeps you hydrated
  • People who use their voice to do stuff and things need water to keep vocal folds from getting dry and crusty

Most of this tracks.  The human body is comprised of roughly 60% water, 40% cantankerous snark, and 2% mathematical fallacy.  As such, hydration is supremely important.

Why is proper hydration so important?

Because.

DUH.

Oh, real answers.  Right.

It is vital to every fa(u)cet of our existence.  According to this link at the National Institute of Health, water consumption the key to continue to life.  Continuing to life is the only way to not break Rule #1, which is: “Don’t Death.”  The human body can only survive roughly 3 days without water intake.  Which is shorter than it can survive without food consumption (~7 days) or longer without smart phone usage (~73 seconds).

By the by. That NIH article is super interesting.  It is full of words*, yes, and probably more words than this blog.  It is probably fewer words than Someone Angry on the Internet somewhere, tho9ugh so really it’s a win for everybody if you read up on water health and maybe skip the rage-filled tirade.

“But George – IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME -,” you’re saying, “I drink coffee and/or tea every morning, several times a day, and in the evening right before not being able to sleep.  That’s so much water it’s causing a drought somewhere.”  Seems like that would be the case, wouldn’t it?  In a sense, there is some truth to that.  It was once argued that coffee and tea were wildly dehydrating and doing more harm than good, yet more recent studies have shown that our previous knowledge on the subject was a bit off base. Yes, I’ll explain, and yes George is my real name.

While caffeine is reported to have a diuretic effect, those recent studies have shown that the effect is minimal.  If The Mayo Clinic is on board the coffee train, then I feel less guilty about it.  There’s another psychological side to this though, and that’s quantity.  Going under the next header because SEO demands shorter sections.

*Seriously. It’s super long.  It needs a narrated version.  I know a guy.  I even know a few gals.  If you’re someone at the NIH reading this, call me.

How much water is enough?

There are … opinions on the subject.  For the moment, I defer to the Mayo Clinic again as a resource for expertise more vast than anything I offer. By and large, women need to bring in 2.7 liters per day and men 3.7 liters a day.  So.  Unless you’re drinking a gallon’s worth of coffee in the morning, your daily intake might be running a bit short.  Some benchmarks indicate that the goal should be 8 cups of water per day.  Is that the right amount?  Probably close enough in the previously mentioned article.  It’s a good goal and comes in a manageable format.  We humans like easily manageable tasks during our complicated days.  8 8oz cups of water in total throughout the course of a day is not as difficult as, say, trying to drink a gallon of water 5 minutes before going to a kung-fu class in your 20s to “stay hydrated.”  And wondering why your stomach is unhappy about it.  And whenever you throw a kick the entire class can hear the sloshing sound.  And you look around with everyone else to where the sound is coming from but you know full well it’s you.  This may or may not be a true story.

If you don’t mind me getting a biiiiiiiiiit on the bodily fluids train for a moment (that just sounds … wrong …..), proper hydration can be visually inspected based on urine color (ew, David).  The more dark yellow, the more concentrated and less hydrated.  The clearer, the better.

and how much is too much?

To answer the question of “How much is too much,” it’s complicated.  A rare condition referred to as “water intoxication” can take place in the event of drinking far too much water in a single setting.  Trying to slam 2-3 liters in an hour or two on the regular is a good way to tempt fate on that front. It’s difficult to say whether or not the odds are that you will experience water intoxication after that level of consumption in short amounts of time.  It’s also probably not worth the risk.  Additionally, drinking that much water in a short amount of time feels awful.  Please see kung-fu story from above.

Something else to keep in mind: if you are an athlete, you are likely going to need more fluid intake than the average desk jockey.  Also if you’re an athlete, you are not entirely likely to be reading this anyway because you’re out there … athleting like a boss.

Chronic Condition specifics to keep in mind

Other health considerations to take into account: individuals with congestive heart failure and kidney disease must be extremely careful about the amount of fluid intake in a day.  If you are reading this and haven’t had a conversation with your physician about recommended fluid intake, please schedule an appointment to do so.  You have a challenging balance to maintain and having expert advice is vital.  I am not that expert.

Common (and not so common) side effects of dehydration

If you’re just not getting as much water as necessary on a given day or two, you may experience uncomfortable moods, exhaustion, excessive thirst, muscle pains, and maybe light headaches.  Chronic dehydration can result in dry skin, rashes, ongoing and constant fatigue, blistering headaches, and everyone’s favorite passtime: Constipation!

Any one of those experiences are probably worth an extra cup or two a day of water to just avoid it. Additionally, if you believe that you show symptoms of chronic dehydration, it’s time for a visit with a medical expert.  Ongoing and uncorrected dehydration can lead to a variety of Really Bad Things.  Like early onset dementia, decreased kidney function, kidney stones, hypertension, and other things that lead to direct violations of Rule #1.

Who benefits from appropriate water consumption?

If people spent as much time consuming water as they “consumed content” – that’s the In Thing that everyone talks about, and technically I’m a raging hypocrite because blah(g)s are categorized as content so we’re just going to zip over that part – then there would be no reason to write this post; water consumption would be at record high rates.  Restroom facility utilization would also be at record high rates, which would mean more construction which would mean more jobs.  Everybody wins!

Aside from the fact that everyone benefits from staying properly hydrated, here are a few specific categories of folks who benefit from making sure there’s enough liquid surging through the pores:

  • Singers
  • People who speak ever
  • Sportmongers
  • Voice Actors
  • Motor Vehicle Repair Technicians
  • Authors
  • Hyporites
  • Stuffed Animal Stuffers (paradoxical warning: not the actual stuffed animals)
  • The Toothsmith
  • Carl
  • That dog next door that barks all night
  • Nickelback
  • Church mice

So I got a bit carried away, but you get my point.  Everyone benefits from proper water intake.  I have a nasty habit of focusing on people who do things with their voices on the regular.  Voice actors, sports announcers, teachers, singers, my daughter upstairs singing loudly long after bedtime, anyone who relies on the consistent use of their voice is in a position where proper hydration is absolutely crucial to ongoing vocal longevity.  There’s another component where posture is concerned, but that’s another post for another time.

A note regarding global water availability

It would be foolish to not include a section on availability of water to the global population.  97% of the water on our planet is salt water.  Virtually undrinkable in its present form.  The remaining 3% is fresh water, of which 1% we have access to.  The rest is locked up in icebergs, glaciers, ice caps, soil, the atmosphere, is polluted, or too deep to efficiently/inexpensively dig to find.  According to the World Wildlife Federation, 1.1 billion people do not have access to water and another 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month per year.  So yes, this blog entry is describing an extremely first-world problem that we face as a self-inflicted wound.

The process of “Desalinization” – converting salt water into fresh water – becomes more and more efficient with each passing year as new technologies are developed.  There is hope that these methods will help solve this ongoing challenge to our global community.

Rain it in

So the TL;DR version is: you’re most likely not drinking enough water per day.  Drink more water per day.  You’ll thank me later.  Or not.  This isn’t about me.  This is about you.  You’ll thank you later.  So say we all.

-= george =-