‘Born to Run’ is a book that can make just about any person (runner or not) want to get out their chair and start padding around the neighbourhood.
The book is a real myth buster and one of those myths is the “Science of Hydration’. Dr Tim Noakes claims:
“There is not a single report in the medical literature of dehydration being a proven, direct cause of death in a marathon runner. But if you look at runners who had plenty to drink, that’s a different story. That’s where the bodies turn up!”
Eh! The logic seems counter-intuitive. How does drinking water during a marathon lead to death?
To answer this question the book takes a small dive into our evolutionary history, “Humans evolved to be extremely adept long-distance runners with unmatched ability to regulate their body temperatures when exercising in heat.”
“To this day, the San peopled of the Kalahari can run up to seven hours in heat of 108 Fahrenheit on just a few swallows.”
Conversely, Noakes noticed a curiosity. He observed that long distance races that previously had no problem with dehydration started recording race fatalities AFTER regular aid stations had become the norm!
This hydration riddle plagued Noakes for some time. “Were people not drinking from the aid stations?” “Were there not enough aid stations?: And then the answer hit him.
At the Houston Marathon in 2000 dozens were rushed to the medical tent despite drinks being handed out EVERY SINGLE MILE!
The answer was not that there was too little to drink. The answer was that there was too much to drink. Runner’s drank so much water that they had diluted their blood sodium concentration and caused their brains to swell: water poisoning!
Noakes researched further and discovered 12 confirmed deaths by water poisoning, but here is where a good news story hits big business.
Drink giants, PepsiCo’s Gatorade and Coca-Cola’s Powerade were mega donors of sporting events and had enjoyed huge profits peddling the hydration myth that ‘more is better’.
As Noake puts it, “The terrible irony was that inventing a fake health scare the Drink Giants had created a real one.”
Far from rolling over and accepting Noake’s assessment, the Drink Giant’s did what all massive corporations do when profits are threatened: sue and discredit.
In time Noakes has had the last word on the matter. His book ‘Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports’ was scientifically rigorous, forensically detailed and passionate account of hyponatremia (water poisoning).
The outcome. The idea peddled by Drink Giants that you must ‘Drink before you are thirsty” or “Drink before, during and after exercise” and don’t worry what your body is telling you, are very dangerous ideas. Ideas that could cause hyponatremia and not only ruin your day, but end your life!
After 4,500 words Noakes ends his book this way, “Your body will tell you what it needs, if you just listen.” Of course, it took a mountain of scientific data and specialised advice to get to that statement but you get the gist.
WATER & YOU!
More than 90% of your blood is water!
And the consumption of water, DAILY, is critical to a healthy body and full life! WATER! Not Powerade, or Mother, or Red Bull or Gatorade. WATER. Plain water!
Water acts as a solvent that dissolves all materials (glucose, proteins, nutrients, and ions) in the blood plasma, the liquid component of the blood. All the solid components of the blood are useless if there is no liquid to carry them around.
Blood plasma, which is 92% water, makes it possible for red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets to move around the body and water acts as a medium for oxygen and nutrients to dissolve in.
Water is not only important to proper blood circulation. Water is the life of blood itself.
We’ll revisit the water equation in future blogs but for now it’s sufficient to know that you should try to drink at least 8 glasses (minimum), or two liters, per day of good quality water.