21 April 2009

Water on the brain

Some days when the seemingly perpetual story of financial chaos, political graft and illiberalism disguised as protecting the nation seems all-pervading, I actually think I will run out of daft things to write about. And then there comes along something so obviously vacuous it lifts my day.

There is a new organisation launched that goes by the grand title of The Natural Hydration Council, and they have got a website and everything. They exist to promote "naturally sourced water", and to illustrate this purpose have concocted a strange ad campaign featuring people with animal heads clutching bottles of H2O - presumably because there is nothing more natural than a half-man-half-crocodile. You'd think that after half a billion or so years of evolution, we'd hardly need a website to remind us to drink water, but apparently we need help coming to an "informed opinion" about the "hydration".

Not just any old water, of course - "naturally sourced" water. Which in this case has been twisted to mean "bottled water", as you'll understand when you realise the backers of this organisation are the likes of Evian and Highland Spring. Presumably this is to contrast it with unnaturally sourced water - that boring stuff that the regulated water companies sell via the plumbing - and I am guessing must therefore be made from nuclear waste, genetically modified foetuses and Westlife's old underpants.

Leaving aside the laughable content, which I encourage you to explore, the positive outcome from this project is it means the bottled water industry is clearly worried about the negative press surrounding discarded plastic water bottles. Their main concern it seems is that people who worry about that sort of thing should balance any judgement about environmental impact with the fact that water is really, really important. Apparently you could die if you don't drink any, or at the very least lose the ability to think properly, as well as your teeth and kidneys, and suffer from something called "thick blood", which sounds like pretty desperate bullshit to me.

The best bit is the final page, devoted to "Hydration Tips", in case you ever forget how to drink. Apparently it's better to drink water throughout the day, rather than try to drink an entire day's worth in one sitting. And also being thirsty should not be taken as a sign to drink water - you should do that before you get thirsty, otherwise it might be too late. Presumably you could end up with a touch of that nasty "thick blood". So anytime you are not feeling thirsty, you should drink water, just in case - which I guess will stop you from ever feeling thirsty again, in which case you will be permanently drinking water.

My favourite one, though, is the Gillian McKeith-esque reference to urine colour. Apparently a pale wee means you are properly hydrated, though Jane Griffin "BSc RD RNutr, Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant" is quick to caveat this by saying that not having pale wee doesn't necessarily mean you are dehydrated - you could be eating too many beetroots (I promise I am not making this up).

"Even very mild dehydration can impair mental performance", the NHC tells us. After viewing their website, I would strongly suggest they haven't been drinking enough of their own product.

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