Monday, November 19, 2007

i thought of a 5th...

(for the other 4, see this post)

i'll think of this every time i watch survivor man or man vs wild. we all have heard that you're not supposed to drink coffee, soda, or alcohol if you're sick or exercising (or care about you're health at all for that matter). i guess it dehydrates you, among other adverse side effects.

but let's say i've somehow landed in the middle of the mojave desert, with no food, water, or supplies. its been a day and a half in the heat with nothing to eat or drink, and there is no one to laugh at my many humorous comments. then, for no apparent reason i come upon a cold bottle of beer (or cola for you kids) sitting in the dirt. do i drink it or not? will i die faster with or without it.

i was talking with a friend this weekend who says don't drink it. i trust her, but am interested in what other people think (tommy h, i'm looking in your direction).

7 comments:

Chad Cheverier said...

I consulted my brother on this one. He said from his own knowledge and actually seeing man vs wild as well that if you are dehydrated and starving and dying, sugar will kill you faster. so no way to soda and beer does have sugar however since its fermented it might be ok. this is a toughy. im sure the beer would be a nice treat before you die.

Ange said...

Well, if you're going to die anyways you might as well enjoy an ice cold beer before you go. And yes, I know this doesn't answer your question.

Taylor Allen Balty said...

if youre not going to drink it then at least poor some out for your homies!

Tom Hughes said...

Hmm...this is an interesting question. I don't really know the answer to it, I do know that beer is mostly water, but on the other hand alcohol inhibits the release of anti-diuretic hormone from the brain. Anti-diuretic hormone is a hormone that is secreted to tell the kidneys that the blood plasma is becoming a bit too salty, and that water should be conserved to dilute it (stay hydrated) and keep it within a set range. So, because alcohol inhibits the release of anti-diuretic hormone, your kidneys would be less likely to "get the message" to conserve water when your body needs it, causing you to pee out water you could have been using to maintain hydration. However, because beer is mostly water, I think it would be more likely to cause at least mild hydration, rather than cause dehydration.

The caffeine in soda also has some diuretic (causing you to pee) effects, but I don't think it's as significant as how alcohol works. I think my answer to the question would be along the lines of: if you were stranded in the desert and hadn't had anything to drink for day, your instincts would alert you to drink the first thing that came into sight. Chances are, at least in the short-term, the drink is going to be comprised of mostly water by a substantial amount, which will serve to rehydrate you. I bet you could probably even survive off beer and soda, because I think the end result is more likely to be moderate rehydration rather than dehydration.

Amanda said...

I'm not a science buff or anything close, but what if you were to drink either, get mildly dehrdrated, and then pee because of what Tom H. said, THEN drink your pee? What about that?

kirsten said...

I have always wondered if I was stranded in the desert and I was given the choice of a Big-Mac or a salad/vegetables, which would be the better choice, because clearly, the Big-Mac would have more calories, which I think could sustain life longer. I generally feel that eating something would be better than nothing though, in your case with the beer.

Beigle, Thomas D. said...

Some centuries ago the Dutch couldn't get clean drinking water. Whatever clean water there was the brewers were using for their beer. So people began drinking beer for hydration. Hence, beer became a fixture of Dutch culture.

By the way, despite drinking mostly beer for a couple hundred years, the Dutch are alive and doing quite well.