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Old 04-09-2012, 11:47 PM   #1
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If people drank beer, wine, and cider throughout history because water was unsafe, how did they not get really dehydrated? From what I understand, these beverages were not as high gravity and yeast wasn't nearly as attenuative, but still...wouldn't it make you thirsty?

I remember hearing that the average worker received at least a gallon of beer a day working on the pyramids. It's hard enough staying hydrated during the summer, let alone in Egypt. How did this work? Surely people had to drink water sometimes?
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:49 AM   #2
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People were just tougher back then. And they died a lot earlier.

I dunno.

But you got me thinking. There's a book that tells world history through beer and other beverages. I took a management class and the dude was using that book.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses. That's it! I need to get that book.
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:03 AM   #3
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It's easy to get dehydrated on 5%, and even easier on 10% beer that's all the rage today, but when they were drinking a gallon of beer a day, it was probably closer to 2%, and mostly water, sugars, and even unconverted starches.
It was really more like bread with water, and a decent amount of protein.
Plus, as mentioned, they only had a life expectancy of around 25 anyway, even with the natural antibiotics produced in egyptian beer.

 
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raenon View Post
It's easy to get dehydrated on 5%, and even easier on 10% beer that's all the rage today, but when they were drinking a gallon of beer a day, it was probably closer to 2%, and mostly water, sugars, and even unconverted starches.
It was really more like bread with water, and a decent amount of protein.
Plus, as mentioned, they only had a life expectancy of around 25 anyway, even with the natural antibiotics produced in egyptian beer.
Good point about life expectancy. That's a very interesting article, too.

Still, even with less alcohol and less attenuation, wouldn't you be left over with a 2-3% really sweet liquid? I wouldn't think that would be very thirst-quenching, but I've never had a table beer, so I don't have much of a point of reference. I've heard people in Asia used to drink mostly tea, but isn't that a diuretic? These questions have always bugged me.
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:39 AM   #5
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The body adapts. I once went on a 7-day bender drinking only beer and coffee. Both should have left me drier than a nun's you-know-what, but I survived.

Did these people from the past eat things with water in them, like tomatoes and apples and whatnot? Pretty much every food has some water in it. Maybe that's the answer.

 
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:58 AM   #6
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History Of The World in Six Glasses is a great read. Fun look at how certain beverages gained prominence.
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Old 04-10-2012, 03:01 AM   #7
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I heard the whole "beer dehydrates you" thing is a misconception. It hydrates you just fine, just much less efficiently than water. Same story for coffee, tea, Coke, etc. You won't shrivel into a raisin if you drink weak beer, cider, etc. Just don't use it to hydrate during a marathon or in a trek across the desert.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:55 PM   #8
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Supposedly enough alcohol at a time can mess with the system that regulates body water retention. If you are dehydrated and drink a beer, the small amount of alcohol present would not dehydrate you, but the water would be taken in.

If you are hydrated and drink a lot of alcohol, the body starts to lose water. From what I can see though, you don't lose enough to cause actual dehydration.

The effect of the alcohol also makes you FEEL like you are drier than you really are.

I rarely drink anything other than beer in the afternoon. 1/2 cup of coffee at work in the morning and maybe a glass of water at lunch. Then maybe 1-2 beers at night.

 
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:12 PM   #9
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Back in ancient times,45 was concidered old. Ramesies II was 66 at the time of the Excodus. It was his son,Mernepta that chased the Isrealites. His body tested with a high saline content frome sea water,not the natron salts used to dry the body. But the beer being only around 3% would certainly have been quite sessionable. And all the tetracyclene built up in there bodies from the beer would seem to have made them a bit more rugged.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:13 PM   #10
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I guess they ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, which would contribute much more fluid than what we usually eat today. I think our modern, Western diet is more different from theirs than we imagine it to be.
But I'm willing to participate in a study if necessary.

 
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