Eat your water
(No. 33) And stay away from Grandma's food
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But first, this: Great photos and films of the influenza pandemic of 1918 show how it affected the young more than the old; our government suppressed news of the pandemic, leaving the citizens to figure out how to escape it (you can skip the first 53 seconds).
This photo makes me thirsty. Photo by Yasuo Takeuchi on Unsplash
For my project, Postcards from Pandemic, I’ve been driving through some hot countryside. The other day in Presidio, Texas, on the border, the temperature rose to 110 degrees. Yesterday in El Paso it was in the high 90s, and the air was so dry that my whole body seemed to be asking for water. I guess I was lucky to realize I was thirsty. According to The Cleveland Clinic, our awareness of being thirsty declines as we age, which is a shame because drinking sufficient water is vital to our health as well as our beauty. Being Stephen, I never drink enough. Or so I thought, until I looked into it.
I love the taste of water. I especially love sparkling water. But I’m not someone who automatically drinks a lot of it. I have to consciously remind myself to drink it. I do not know why. But I suspect that if I don’t feel a physical need for water, I’m not in need of it. That just seems to make sense. My kids and others often remind me to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. That is accepted wisdom. Does anyone know why?
According to a 2007 article in BMJ (formerly known as The British Medical Journal), the recommendation came from a 1945 study showing that adults needed about 1 milliliter of water -- that’s the amount between the lines on a standard medicine dropper -- for each calorie of food they eat. If you’re consuming 2,000 calories a day, that comes to about 64 ounces, or 8 cups a day. However, the report goes on to say that this amount of water is contained in the foods and liquids, other than glasses of water, that most people consume in a day (at least on the British diet of the time -- different cultures will have different intakes, depending on many factors). It seems that this last part of the equation has been lost, as everyone these days seems to recommend a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day, no matter what kinds of food you eat.
Here are some common foods and the percentage of water they contain:
90-99 percent water
Fat-free milk, melon, berries, lettuce, spinach, cabbage
80-89 percent water
Fruit juice, yogurt, apples, oranges, cooked broccoli, pineapple
70-79 percent water
Bananas, avocado, ricotta cheese, baked potato, shrimp
60-69 percent water
Cooked pasta, ice cream, salmon
50-59 percent water
Steak, feta cheese
Clearly, most people get a lot of water from their food -- not to mention the water in beer, tea, juice and other drinks they consume. One study found that people in the UK got 27 percent of their water from food, while those in France consumed 36 percent that way. Another study estimated that Americans get one-third of their water from food. That means that instead of 8 cups, I need to drink about 5.5 cups a day. (I definitely drink more if I’m in the sun on a hot day.) Technically, this water is called food moisture, which, to be frank, sounds gross. One of my daughters is always asking me if I’ve had enough water today. Next time I will reply that I’ve made up for it with a lot of food moisture. I’m sure she won’t ask again.
The Travesty that is Flint
When the subject of water comes up, I always think of all the Flint, Michigan residents who continue to rely on bottled water because their government, basically, screwed them. A group called Water Aid (among many others) helps people in Flint and around the world get cleaner water.
New World Water by Yasiin (neé Mos Def)
Read the lyrics here.
News from the world:
Laugh Laugh, Dance Dance, Alone Alone
A lot of older people spend a lot of time alone, especially during the pandemic. The Atlantic offers this playlist for partying alone.
Actually, Grandma’s food sucked
We are often told to eat like our grandmother’s. That means nothing processed, everything fresh. In truth, this is bad advice, cause grandma might not have been so pure as you think. Maybe modern grandmas can take the mantle.
This wonderful article lists 27 tips for not aging that you should just forget about.
On this road trip through the US I sometimes camp out. It’s a lot of fun, but the first night I neglected to inflate my air mattress and the ground seemed awfully hard. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions or ideas. Thanks. See you in two weeks (the summer schedule).