Thursday, May 29, 2008

Once Upon a Time in the East

I recall an incredibly hot day when I was working abroad in the Middle East. I stand corrected; we were not actively “working” at the time, but had the afternoon off because of the intense heat. We gave a shot at basketball briefly, but quickly realized that there was wisdom behind the idea of avoiding overexertion under those conditions. We soon found ourselves swilling cold beer instead. Now that was fun! But as you might expect, things got a little out of hand. I soon lost track of how many brewskys I had tossed down.

We were seated in a circle, laughing and joking at mindless stuff when I suddenly felt light headed. I was confused. I didn’t think I’d drank that much! Fortunately, one of my partners recognized what was happening and shoved a glass of water in front of me. He said, “Drink this! You’re dehydrated!” I quickly downed the glass of water and shoved it back, asking for another. Before he could refill it, I’d sensed an immediate yet gradual clearing of my foggy head. I continued to drink more of the ‘life-giving’ liquid, for which I’d suddenly realized a much greater appreciation for.

I’d just experienced severe dehydration and learned a valuable lesson. I had felt tingly and dizzy. That translates into somewhere between 3-6% loss of water from my body.

Now if I’m doing my math right and our body is 60-70% water; the formula would look like this: I’m 200 pounds, so 70% of that is 140 lbs. 6% of 140 lbs is 8.4lbs. I should have been down to a total weight of 191.6lbs! Well the sad truth is, drinking beer is not generally considered a good weight loss plan. In fact, every bottle of beer or ounce of alcohol delivers 100 useless calories into your system. Liquor and wine is even higher in calories!

What alcohol does is give the body the illusion of being overly hydrated and all we feel is the need to pee! In a foggy, groggy state, we suspect that we’re getting plenty of liquids, but in reality we’re depleting ourselves of water and slowly adding to the size of our belly. Alcohol is a diuretic that inhibits our bodies’ natural anti-diuretic hormone, so we ultimately urinate more than usual, shedding valuable water!

A practical formula to counter some of this is quite simple. For every glass of beer or every ounce of alcohol consumed, the body requires a replenishment of 12 oz of water.

By keeping ourselves hydrated, we are able to counter many of the detrimental effects of the beer(s) we chugged. Our mind functions better, our metabolism is better, our gastrointestinal tract performs better; any hangover is diminished, and all in all; our body is in better balance.

And you know what’s coming next, right? To avoid these issues we need to be conscious of proper hydration. Of course, one simple practice is to watch that alcohol!

1 comment:

Erika R said...

I enjoyed and related to your story. A beer does sound good in hot weather but a cotton mouth and foggy head does not appeal to me.

By the way, when were you playing basketball in the Middle East?