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Left Coast / Right Coast: Staying hydrated

As we age, we’re told it is important to stay hydrated. Recommendation is to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day – or the equivalent. Very few of us actually drink that much water (although if you count alcoholic drinks consumed in the evenings at the local watering hole, many of us might get to eight).
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

As we age, we’re told it is important to stay hydrated. Recommendation is to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day – or the equivalent. Very few of us actually drink that much water (although if you count alcoholic drinks consumed in the evenings at the local watering hole, many of us might get to the magic figure of eight).

I got to thinking about what the equivalents are. Well, first on the list would be coffee. Turns out coffee is appropriate, in moderation, for hydration. Unsweetened coffee and tea in moderation can hydrate you, too. Mayo Clinic notes that, although caffeine is a mild diuretic (i.e., it increases urine production), a cup or two per day of a caffeinated beverage won't increase your risk of dehydration.

Coffee is among the top consumed and one of the most popular hot drinks in the world. Almost a third of the world’s population drinks coffee.  People often meet at cafes or coffee shops for a coffee break during the middle of the morning or stop work in the afternoon to drink coffee (can you say Starbucks?).

About seven million tons of coffee are produced every year. Brazil is, by far, the world’s largest coffee producer. About a third of the world’s production comes from this South American country. Other coffee producing countries include Vietnam, Indonesia and Columbia.

It also turns out that if you are properly hydrated your urine is supposed to be pale yellow, and not clear. Here is a color chart to tell you how hydrated you are.  We had a gag at our fraternity house of putting a certain chemical in the party drinks which would turn urine blue. Then we set up a recorder in the ladies rest room. We laughed ourselves silly listening to the women yell: “It’s blue!!!” Shame on us – but such fun!

Turns out the Gates Foundation has making potable drinking water one of its highest priorities. That’s because the lack of acceptable drinking water around the world is a major cause of disease. Cholera, life threatening diarrhea and other killing diseases are a major health issue.

Even here in the U.S. it is an issue. I attended undergraduate school in Troy, New York. Troy, located on the Hudson River – about 100 miles north of NY City. Further north up the river are the Adirondack mountains. They were a source of iron ore through the early 20th century. The waste from processing the ore was simply dumped into the Hudson. So even well into the 20th century, if you filled a sink bowl full of Hudson River water it had a pale yellow/brown color. As a gag, we wrote in our Freshman year news bulletin that we sent a sample of the water off for analysis. The report came back: “Your horse has diabetes.”

While our bodies can go without food for as much as two weeks, without water many of us would not last three to four days.

We have a sewage treatment plant just up the road from our home. They claim that the water discharged from the plant – which flows directly into Puget Sound, is drinkable. So far, I have not attempted to verify their claim.

There are dozens of movies, all mostly about people lost in the desert who get more and more dehydrated – until they become delusional and start seeing mirages about lakes of fresh water. Sometimes they see the other party(s) lost with them as giant ice cream sodas.

All I can say is I’m grateful that in our home, we have a half dozen cold water spigots that are readily available. Otherwise, we’d have to drill down probably several thousand feet to create a locally available source of water. And my arms would get tired quickly digging that far.

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