Water is bad for you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 

One of the great irritations of many “healthy” hippie communities is an obsession with “hydration.” People who wander around with bottles of water “hydrating” for one psudoscientific neo-mystical reason or another with absolutely no evidentiary basis for doing so are emblematic of the sort of self-righteous received knowledge that characterizes fundamentalism and cults.

It is a practice that has always bugged me. I am a runner and I’ve run for hours on hot days without drinking anything to no ill effect. When I was young, waaay back in the prehistoric days before Polyethylene Terephthalate and running high school cross country, we’d take a sip or too from the fountain on a hot day and nobody died. It always struck me as incongruous with my experience that all of a sudden people needed so much more water than they used to just to make it through the day, even in an air conditioned office.

I soon learned that the water craze was not only a bunch of crap, but dangerous, even to runners. I ran the Boston Marathon a few times way back then and one tended to drink a bit here and there along the course, and more and more as the years went by. As people started to obsess about “staying hydrated” (as opposed to not being thirsty) they started suffering from Hyponatremia; so much so that a couple of people have died of it. Apparently nobody has ever died from dehydration along the marathon. Yes, not drinking enough just slows you down; drinking too much will kill you.

“But,” the water fanatics say, “water detoxifies, beautifies, mysticifies, and is an all over tonic for everything that ails you!” As it turns out, not so much. A recent study published in the American Journal of Nephrology found no such benefits. Yes, if you’re wandering around with water bottles you’re merely paying a lot of money for water that’s worse than from the tap and contributing to a problematic waste stream. If you’re thirsty have a sip from the tap.

Posted at 18:24:39 UTC

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