Drinking Too Much Water Can Kill Soldiers … or You

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“Death in combat is understandable. Death during training should not be occurring.” The problem is drinking too much water in combination with having too little electrolytes. It is not clear how effective Gatorade and its ilk are. One alternative from the past is switchel, an old-fashioned drink used (mostly during haying season, the hottest time of summer) to prevent farmhands from over-hydrating. There are different recipes, but the one my grandmother recalled was a combination of water, vinegar, ginger, and honey (of course, coming from a family of beekeepers, the sweetener was honey) Its main purpose was to prevent illness from drinking too much water (called “water intoxication”); horses have to be prevented from the same thing. Part of the death/illness prevention came from the taste of the stuff; you had to be pretty thirsty to drink anything approaching too much.

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