Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Heat in Israel. Drinking - and the Water of Israel

If you're living in Israel and have come from the place known as "Sunny South Africa" – you may find yourself in for a big surprise when it comes to the sun. While the general sun of Sunny South Africa is usually a pleasant warmth, the sun in Israel can often be extremely hot. The heat can in fact be a rather unusual one and carries with it certain features that are not common in normal heat. Often one is "blessed" with that heat-wave known as a Chamsin (meaning literally heat-wave.) 

Dehydration can be a common thing for those not paying attention to the need to drink. Not just to drink normally – but often a little abnormally too. One needs to make sure that there are plenty of fluids in the body in the heat of Israeli weather conditions.

Everyone knows about the importance of drinking in those conditions that necessitate it. But I'd like to highlight something additional in this post, and this concerns the water that is drunk in Israel.

In South Africa, it is quite normal to drink ordinary tap water. In Israel, there is a lot of additional "limescale" (see previous post, Household Tip – Cleaning Kettles.) In fact, this makes the water very harsh. The best way to find out just what real Israeli tap water looks like is to insert a tap filter around the tap itself and use the water this way. After about a month, take off the filter and look inside to see what has gathered there. Don't be shocked! Just realise that without a suitable (professional!) filter, you're going to be putting this into your body. Another way of seeing just how hard the water is, is by not cleaning your sink or bathtub very well. After just a short period of time, you'll notice your basins looking quite dirty. Don't worry – this is not actual dirt, it's the hardness of the water "eating" at the basin. You'll find that the toilet bowls begin to turn brown as well, and it takes much experience to know exactly how to clean them well.

As a side point, you may also find your kettle gathering heaps of additional lime at the bottom of the kettle after a number of uses. It actually becomes quite thick and you'll want to clean out your kettle regularly and appropriately to make sure that grime does not end up being a part of your daily coffee!

Back to the water, this hard water is difficult on the stomach of many, especially Olim Chadashim. If you're looking for a healthy water, like other Israelis you can choose to install a professional water filter system on your tap – which can cost quite a sum! If you're leasing your apartment, it won't be easy to do either, as you'll often end up leaving the entire filter system with the landlord when you leave (having now officially given him/her a parting gift!) – or incurring some expense to remove the filter and restore everything to its original condition.

On the other hand, you can do what many others do – and drink the spring waters which are easily available in the supermarkets (Makoliyot.) You can buy them in a variety of sizes. If you're looking to save money, you'll get them in packages of 6 bottles to a container. Each bottle usually contains 1.5-2 litres of water. If you look for the specials, you can end up saving a lot!

There is one important caution that must be pointed out here. There is actually a danger in becoming too used to these waters. In fact, drinking too much of them can cause you to… DEHYDRATE!

There's "the small print" on every bottle which subtly tells the buyer to beware – you can dehydrate drinking me! This is the sodium content which is in almost every case an absolute minimum. You'll notice the words "Dal Nitran" written on the bottle. Dal=Low, Nitran=Sodium. Those words are present for a good reason! They're actually a warning of what might be in store if you don't take precaution. It is this that causes the dehydration problem. Ask any GOOD doctor about this point, and they'll warn that drinking too much of this spring water can add to one become more thirsty, drinking more and dehydrating from the water! If you are prone to low blood pressure or blood sugar, this fact is especially important. (This point has been personally observed and proven together with the good doctor's advice!)

How does one overcome this drinking problem (a drinking problem all of its own!)? One must include a variety of drinks in one's diet throughout the day. Some good fruit juices, together with the water, and perhaps even with a little bubbly and gassy drink (cola or the like) can actually help in restoring the body to the condition it needs to be in, in order to counteract the extreme heat and dehydration problems.

We'll be talking more about "drinking-substitutes" in a later post.

Note: This post reflects the personal opinions of the author and does not necessarily indicate normative medicine or normal medical practice. Should you be faced with an issue of overheat and dehydration, please consult your personal doctor for appropriate advice. 

In addition, don't forget, you will need to find out how much you should be drinking for your system. You need a lot of liquid but too much is equally as dangerous.

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