In Jonathan Swift’s classic tale, Gulliver’s Travels, the giant, Gulliver, is praised by small people known as Lilliputians for using some ingenuity and a full bladder to put out a fire at their king’s palace. Although relieving oneself on a royal residence is not the recommended way to make friends and influence enemies in foreign lands, it worked for Gulliver, who was forever appreciated by the grateful, inch-high population.
To the casual reader, it may appear that Gulliver was motivated to act by a desire to please the Lilliputians. I have my own theory. I think the gentle giant had been reading the same articles that I’ve been reading, which harp on the health benefits of drinking six to eight tall glasses of water every day.
What the advocates of this excessive water consumption practice don’t tell you is that if you follow their recommendation, you are going to spend more time in the bathroom every day than an old copy of Reader’s Digest. But before we talk about the downside of being overly hydrated, let’s take a minute to review some facts about one of the world’s most abundant natural resources.
My personal fascination with water began when I watched Olympic swimming as a child. There were so many interesting particulars surrounding the sport. For example, do you know how they fill those Olympic swimming pools? Mark Spitz. Younger readers may need to go on the Webernet and look up that name in order to understand the joke. People of my generation will get it and groan accordingly.
And speaking of old things, did you know that there is the same amount of water now as there was when the Earth was first formed? Believe it or not, the water that comes out of your faucet could contain molecules of water that dinosaurs drank. Really. In fact, while researching this column, I learned that scientists calculate each time you have a drink, some of that very water has been drunk by three people before you. Let that sink in for a minute. If you are not too grossed out, we can continue.
Did you know that about 75 percent of the human brain is water and 75 percent of a living tree is water? This may explain why some people seem to have the IQ of a stick. But I digress. Did you know that 95 percent of a cucumber is made of water? Or that, in a year, the average American residence uses over 100,000 gallons of water?
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This column has more information than the patient package inserts that come with my prescription drugs.” Well hang onto your seats, my data-hungry friends, there’s more. For example, did you know that 75 percent of your skin is water? Or that 70 percent of the entire human body is water? Or that 65 percent of the word “percent” is water?
And now that you know all about this amazing liquid, allow me to explain what happens when you try to drink a barrel and a half of it every day, as suggested by some sadistic health nuts.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading about the benefits of proper hydration on social media and in various fitness publications. These benefits include cleansing your body of toxins, keeping your kidneys functioning efficiently, lubricating your joints and cartilage, balancing your electrolytes and giving you 22 percent better mileage in the city (14 percent, highway). It all sounded so good, I decided to give the increased water consumption concept a try.
I found a Men’s Fitness magazine article that suggested the proper dosage in order to achieve maximum results. I was to drink 3 liters of water a day to receive optimal hydration benefits and experience a better quality of life. My first thought upon reading this was that I might just as well park my head under the faucet for the day.
The regimen offered was as follows: drink 200 ml of water when you wake in the morning, drink a tall glass of water every hour, drink an additional tall glass half an hour before exercise, drink a tall glass every 20 minutes of exercise, drink a tall glass before you go to bed.
Well, I’ve been chugging down the suggested amount and sloshing around the house for the past two days. I’m not real clear on the long-term results, but at this point, 95 percent of my newly found “better quality of life” has been spent in the commode. It has gotten so bad that I can’t even think about water without having to use the facilities. In fact, sitting down and writing this column has been a challenge.
And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go see a man about a horse.
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.