Monday, January 7, 2013

Water in the morning?

During the morning social media workout I came across another meme gone wrong, and I knew I had today's material:
And they even numbered it for me, how kind of them to help me organize my blog.

#5) Once again, it looks like they are counting on people's ignorance when it comes to the inner workings of their own body.  A normal working digestive system is not a tube that food and/or water just flows through unimpeded, and most of us would find it fairly disgusting and unable to leave the bathroom if this were so.  Typically you are going to absorb most of the water you consume in the small intestine and very little actually goes into the large intestine (aka colon).  Now, if you are dehydrated this can cause constipation, in other words, this can interfere with the body's "normal" processes of elimination, but preventing constipation has nothing to do with what time of day you take in fluids.  I suppose some people might get a better start on their daily hydration by drinking a large glass of water in the morning, but don't expect any additional "cleansing" properties from this. (1, 2)

#4) I just pictured all the little cells in my marrow breathing a sigh of relief and saying "Oh good, she just drank water."  (Sorry, I was one of those kids that grew up on Schoolhouse Rock)  Of course, it's way more complicated than that.  Your bone marrow is making and breaking down red blood cells all day every day and it's going to do it whether or not you drink water in the morning.   My best guess is that this myth came from people being told to drink water before and after donating blood.  This is a good idea, not because the water will help you "build up" your red blood cells but  because 1) you might be a "harder stick" if you are dehydrated and 2) you may be more likely to experience a drop in blood pressure and get dizzy/faint if you are dehydrated.  That last one could be embarrasing and dangerous if you hit your head or pass out while driving later.  It is also why they tell you to not to drink alcohol after donating, so that you limit your chances of getting dehydrated.  Now, as far as building more muscle cells, you build muscle by doing weight bearing exercise (and making sure your protein intake is adequate, among other things).  Now, once again I suppose that this myth got twisted from dehydrated people getting fatigued sooner when they are exercising and their lack of exercise causes them not to build as much muscle, but then I really don't know what goes on in the mind of those who promote "woo-woo."

#3) I actually covered this before in a previous post that referenced a small study done in Germany that states you might burn an additional whopping 50 calories per day, which can be undone by eating half of a slice of bread.  Honestly, I have no idea where that 24%  came from.  By using one of the handy-dandy Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR--aka the calories you need daily to stay alive) calculators on the internet I know I need about 1400 calories per day to meet my basic needs (in theory), which means drinking cold water in the morning is suppossed to help me burn an extra ~335 calories per day?  Don't I wish.

#2)  Once again, we have some truth here.  People who are severely dehydrated can actually have skin that has a dry and shriveled appearance and doesn't "bounce back" when pinched.  But once again, this is when people have not been consuming enough fluids in general.  And we have the lovely use of the word "toxins" again, which is basically another way of saying "drinking water in the morning will cause the evil spirits to leave your body and your eyes will not be glowing red anymore."  So, if you are not drinking enough water that real waste products are building up in your blood stream and coming out through your skin, you are probably in kidney failure and need dialysis.

#1)  I plan in the near future to write a whole post about the use of the word "balances" and how it usually means absolutely nothing.   Yes, the lymphatic system is crucial for aiding the immune system and removing excess fluid and waste products from the body, and severe dehydration does impair the removal of wastes as above stated, but once again, if something is wrong with your lymphatic system drinking water isn't going to take care of it.  If your lymph glands are swollen because of an infection, you need to clear up the infection first.  If your lymphatic system has been damaged, then you will need compression garments and massage to help the lymphatic fluid drain properly.

Take home message--If drinking a large glass of water soon after waking help you meet your hydration goals, by all means do so.  But don't expect any other magic things to happen.   And enjoy this more sarcastic post from a science friendly site.

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