Drinks And Drinking
( Originally Published 1927 )
Water is used by the body as a solvent, and it is the fluid with which nourishing compounds are mixed to be brought to every nook of the body, it is the fluid that forms the greatest bulk of the blood ; it is the liquid carrier, in the form of blood, that removes waste.
For years it has been a habit to tell people that they need two quarts of water daily. This is poor advice. Those who live normally can leave this to the thirst.
To illustrate : If a person eats little meat, no salt, no pepper, no vinegar, no sharp condiments and spices, but eats freely of fresh juicy fruits and the succulent vegetables, he needs very little water. In cold weather such an individual will often need only a pint or two of water daily.
But let a man eat freely of meat, salt his food heavily, partake of fried foods and brown gravies, eat heavily of bread, potatoes and sweet desserts, but avoid fresh fruits and fresh vegetables-such an individual may need four quarts of water on a warm day, and still be unclean internally.
The water drinking should be adjusted to the food intake, the work, and the weather.
As the body is composed mostly of water--two-thirds or more of the body being water it is important to know what and how to drink. Water we do not need to digest, for it is absorbed unchanged from the digestive tract.
We drink for the sake of getting water. Hence it is obvious that coffee, tea, alcohol and other fluids are not taken entirely for their liquid contents, for water would serve as well. Most of these fluids are taken for their taste or for their stimulation or their "kick."
Coffee: With its ordinary amount of cream and sugar coffee is a combination of food, beverage, stimulant and depressant. It first stimulates and then depresses.
This cannot be made too emphatic: No child should drink coffee. It is not good for adults, but it is not so harmful to them as to children.
Coffee is a laxative at first, but if it is taken in sufficient quantities covering a long period, it will help to derange the nervous system. Then it causes weakening of the muscles, those in the bowel walls included, and that is a source of constipation.
The alkaloid of coffee, caffeine, is a deadly poison when taken in concentrated form.
Adults who care to retain physical and nervous stability should limit themselves to one cup of coffee a day, preferably in the morning. Some ought not to touch it and everybody would be better off without the coffee habit.
Tea: What has been said of coffee can be repeated about tea, except that tea is more constipating than coffee.
I know of no benefit to be derived from using tea. It contains the same alkaloid as coffee, but in tea we usually call it theine.
Chocolate and cocoa: As usually made with milk and sugar, they are rich foods. They contain a little of the alkaloid theobromine, which is the same as caffeine.
A cup of cocoa or chocolate is all right as a part of a meal, but it should not be used daily by those who spend most of their time indoors.
Eating chocolate candies at all hours eventually deranges the liver and helps to produce indigestion and poor complexion. It is a beauty-killing habit.
Drug store drinks: Water is the only good drink between meals.
Fruit drinks. If these are made of pure juices and a little sugar and water; or of fruit juices and water without sugar, they are good, especially in summer-time. It is all right to have them cold, but not icy. Iced drinks, taken habitually, irritate the digestive organs.
To make fruit drinks : Take any kind of fruit juice you please (lime, lemon, orange, grape, pineapple, berry, etc.) and mix with water, with or without sweetening.
It is best not to take fruit drinks with the meals when starches are eaten, but at any other meals these drinks are all right.
Between meals drink plain water.
Milk is not a drink, but a nourishing food.
Some like cambric tea, and it is good. Use one-third or one-fourth milk and the rest hot water. Sweetening may or may not be used. Serve at the end of the meal.
Imitation coffees are made of cereals, fruits (bananas), peas and other vegetable substances. Whether made at home or by manufacturers, there is no objection to them. When pretty well scorched, as they generally are, they have little or no food value. The sugar and cream served with them are rich foods.
Tobacco, of course, is not a drink, but as we are considering the common domestic drugs coffee and tea—let us not slight tobacco. Many men and some women get much enjoyment from tobacco, for it has a soothing narcotic effect. Tobacco invariably injures the children who indulge; it also injures adults in less degree. And it makes slaves of them. Tobacco heart and indigestion need no discussion. There are no harmless tobaccos. Adults have to decide for themselves if it is worth while. Tobacco helps to decrease the physical strength and enedurance.
Water is the best drink. It should be our chief dependence and we need no other drink.
Water should be clear and sparkling. If it is very heavily charged with lime or other earthy matters or with iron, it ought to be boiled or distilled. Water as it falls from the clouds, stored in a well aerated cistern, is good. Some mineral matter in the water is all right, but very hard water helps to cause premature old age. Such water should be boiled or distilled.
We cannot specify a certain amount of water for everybody. We naturally drink more in summer than in winter. Sometimes the body may demand a quart a day and at other times as much as a gallon—and in hot weather even more.
Here is a good general rule for drinking: Upon arising in the morning, drink one or two glasses of water, taking it somewhat slowly. The temperature may range from cool to warm, but it should not be iced nor really hot, for the extremes of temperature irritate the digestive tract.
If thirsty before beginning to eat, drink some water. But drink nothing while eating,' for it is harmful to wash food down with fluid. If thirsty when the meal is finished, have another drink of water.
After leaving the table, try not to drink for two or three hours. This is for the purpose of leaving the digestion undisturbed. Those with weak digestive organs should take this advice to heart. After this interval drink as the body demands until next meal time. Those who eat only a little salt require less than the average amount of water. Most of us overeat of salt.
Some think that one cannot drink too much water, but we can overdo anything. We need enough to keep the body fluid and to flush out the waste, and no more. In summer the water also cools the body.
Nature invented the best drink: its name is water. It is the great and only health beverage.