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    Default Drink only beer for 46 days, no food?

    So, let me preface this by saying I'm not doing this. It's something I heard about on the local news. A guy is going to try to not eat any food, and instead only drink beer for 46 days.

    His reasoning is that people have allegedly done it before, but this was apparently in the 1600s, so who knows how true the accounts are.

    What I'm curious about is

    A. Is this actually possible? (I will reiterate that I would never do this, it sounds miserable.)
    B. How bad are the effects going to be on your body?
    Last edited by Mystic Muse; 2019-03-12 at 05:20 PM.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Well, if he takes a good multivitamin, he will probably be fine. His liver might hate him, but beer has calories, so he shouldn't die. If he also drinks water, his kidneys will probably be fine. If he only drinks beer for both calories and water, his kidneys will probably be begging for mercy afterward. He will probably completely mess up his gut bacteria. Oh, and since he probably won't get any fiber, his colon might hate him.

    I give even odds that he completely gives up alcohol after finishing this stunt.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    People drank mostly small beer in the 1600s (0.5% alcohol), because it was safer than cold water (boiling water to drink was too much hassle and tasted bad). Full beer was recreational like it is today. If this guy doesnt know the difference between small beer and regular beer, he might be in trouble.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Yeah, what we think of as beer, and alochol in general, has changed quite a bit over the centuries.

    One of the reasons they drank beer, wine, and ale, as much as they did is because the process of making it kills off most things living in the water. So back before they knew about microorganisms they were killing them off without realizing it.

    I don't think you can get anything commercially made that is in any similar to what was being made 400 years ago, about the only thing they'll have in common is the name.

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    People drank mostly small beer in the 1600s (0.5% alcohol), because it was safer than cold water (boiling water to drink was too much hassle and tasted bad). Full beer was recreational like it is today. If this guy doesnt know the difference between small beer and regular beer, he might be in trouble.
    So very much this. It is also worth mentioning that the beer they were drinkin was vastly different then the filtered clear fluid we have available today. Then there is an issue of not eating anything, which was not quite how it went in the olden days.

    Actually I do have an additional question: did European people at the time actually know that boiling water made it safe for drinking?
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    Oh, and since he probably won't get any fiber, his colon might hate him.
    Given he's drinking entirely fluids I wouldn't have thought there would be a huge amount of...ahem...solid residue to start with! And yes, I agree with the general opinion that the "beer" people in the 1600s would have been drinking isn't that similar to what we have now, so one hopes the guy the OP mentions has done his research in this regard.

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    So very much this. It is also worth mentioning that the beer they were drinkin was vastly different then the filtered clear fluid we have available today. Then there is an issue of not eating anything, which was not quite how it went in the olden days.

    Actually I do have an additional question: did European people at the time actually know that boiling water made it safe for drinking?
    As I understand it, they were aware that boiling water could make it safe for drinking, but not that perfectly clean looking and tasting water could still make you sick.

    People conciously drinking beer and wine to avoid getting sick from water seems to be mostly a myth. They were likely popular because of taste and as a source of nutrients.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Very much possible but you get vitamin deficiencies and early arthritis with that.

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Muse View Post
    So, let me preface this by saying I'm not doing this. It's something I heard about on the local news. A guy is going to try to not eat any food, and instead only drink beer for 46 days.

    His reasoning is that people have allegedly done it before, but this was apparently in the 1600s, so who knows how true the accounts are.

    What I'm curious about is

    A. Is this actually possible? (I will reiterate that I would never do this, it sounds miserable.)
    B. How bad are the effects going to be on your body?
    Beer today is not what it was just 50 years ago.
    Back then it was pretty much liquid bread, but brewing methods were changed in the 60's and 70's, removing most vitamins and nutrients.
    Ask old nurses, and they can tell you how alcoholics who pretty much lived on beer started being admitted to hospitals in droves, suddenly suffering from malnourishment.

    If one sticks to low alcohol beer brewed on older recipes, one would probably be fine.
    What does his doctor say? I'm assuming he consulted one before undertaking something like this?
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erloas View Post

    One of the reasons they drank beer, wine, and ale, as much as they did is because the process of making it kills off most things living in the water. So back before they knew about microorganisms they were killing them off without realizing it.
    Wine is full of microbes, and water isn't one of its ingredients anyway. There are some boiled wines, but that is just a way to concentrate them and increase the alcoholic content.

    And people in the Middle Ages had cisterns, to stock up on potable water. They are an extremely frequent structure. London had the Great Conduit. Venice in particular had a system of cisterns and wells that allowed a city built on the sea to have enough potable water for centuries (the wells in this case were simply used to access rainwater stored into the cistern).

    So I don't believe that people in the Middle Ages were afraid to drink water. It's also something I have only ever read in English, or in translations of English texts.

    I do have a theory about where this idea might have come from. You can get ill from drinking water from a place you haven't been before, because you are unused to the microbes in the water, while residents don't have this problem, because they have been drinking it all their lives and their body is accustomed to it. It's a small version of the "seasoning" process, back during colonial times: people from Europe would travel to a new continent, and then keep getting ill, until they built a resistance to all of the endemic microbes, thus becoming "seasoned" (or until they died, I guess). So maybe some unfortunate folk drank water from a pond while hiking, felt really bad, and concluded that water was always inherently unsafe, without modern methods.

    This is not to say that wine wasn't important. It definitely was. The Romans considered it a prime necessity. I don't know much about other alcohol drinks, but they clearly were being produced, taxed, exported and consumed for a long time. There might also have been an underlying addiction issue (I think that there still is one in places where it's normal to drink wine in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, and absence of alcohol affects mood). People may also have enjoyed the energy that comes from not-water in beer (I still know people who drink alcohol-free beer instead of Gatorade), and how drinks acted as a mild analgesic.

    About the actual topic of the thread, I remember that some guy years ago decided to spend a month or two living off beer from a small American brewery. He was expected to also drink water, however, because this beer was very dense and he would have ended up dehydrated. His name was Chris Schryer, and it was actually his way of doing Lent. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/x...-beer-for-lent
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    Actually I do have an additional question: did European people at the time actually know that boiling water made it safe for drinking?
    As far as I know, no. Boiling water was expensive fuel-wise (water takes a heck of a lot of heat to boil), so they would only do it for cooking soup/making hot drink: i.e. a happy accident. Now, you don't need to be aware something is good for you when it comes with other benefits (like warm food or getting drunk), so I suspect it's more that any civilization that got going either had a reason to clean up some of the water, or got wiped out by cholera, dysentery, etc. before they became famous, and got absorbed by another culture that did have a reason to not drink unhealthy water.

    That said, cholera and dysentery and the like were still things in the middle ages, if not as deadly as during the industrial era when people really started living on top of one another in cities.

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Misereor View Post
    Beer today is not what it was just 50 years ago.
    Back then it was pretty much liquid bread, but brewing methods were changed in the 60's and 70's, removing most vitamins and nutrients.
    Ask old nurses, and they can tell you how alcoholics who pretty much lived on beer started being admitted to hospitals in droves, suddenly suffering from malnourishment.

    If one sticks to low alcohol beer brewed on older recipes, one would probably be fine.
    What does his doctor say? I'm assuming he consulted one before undertaking something like this?
    I doubt he consulted a doctor; this sounds like the kind of thing done by an attention seeking idiot.


    vitamin and protein deficiencies are definitely the main threats.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by zlefin View Post
    I doubt he consulted a doctor; this sounds like the kind of thing done by an attention seeking idiot.
    Yeah, that was in the OP:
    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Muse View Post
    His reasoning is that people have allegedly done it before
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    As far as I know, no. Boiling water was expensive fuel-wise (water takes a heck of a lot of heat to boil), so they would only do it for cooking soup/making hot drink: i.e. a happy accident. Now, you don't need to be aware something is good for you when it comes with other benefits (like warm food or getting drunk), so I suspect it's more that any civilization that got going either had a reason to clean up some of the water, or got wiped out by cholera, dysentery, etc. before they became famous, and got absorbed by another culture that did have a reason to not drink unhealthy water.

    That said, cholera and dysentery and the like were still things in the middle ages, if not as deadly as during the industrial era when people really started living on top of one another in cities.

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    Actually, im pretty sure they did know that boiling water cleaned it. It was, as you say, cost prohibitive to do it regularly, but if you were, say, in a field hospital they would boil and filter the water they used. They also knew that, for example, running water was far more likely to be safe to drink than still water.

    As far as im aware, the "beer as a substitute for safe water" thing was really only true of the very earliest beers.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    Actually, im pretty sure they did know that boiling water cleaned it. It was, as you say, cost prohibitive to do it regularly, but if you were, say, in a field hospital they would boil and filter the water they used. They also knew that, for example, running water was far more likely to be safe to drink than still water.

    As far as im aware, the "beer as a substitute for safe water" thing was really only true of the very earliest beers.
    The linked blog form earlier contains reference to what is either ancinet or medieaval writers noting you can make water potable by boiling it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    That said, cholera and dysentery and the like were still things in the middle ages, if not as deadly as during the industrial era when people really started living on top of one another in cities.

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    Cholera wasn't present in Europe until the 1850s.


    I'm vaguely certain armies in the field marching around in the 1600s preferred beer, because they could never be sure about water (whether it was available or potable), they would be encountering new and interesting microbes (not , campaigning was hard and the soldiers coped by being tipsy and they were woefully careless with disposal of waste and drinking. So you could well be using the river upstream as waste disposal where your campfollowers brought drinking water downstream...

    A lot of the "bad medieaval myths" seem to come from the later periods 1600-1700s that were then backprogated by Victorian era scholars to cover the medieval period also.

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    I have in fact seen manifests of medieval armies that listed so and so much small beer given to each soldier a day, so at least for armies, that should be true. There, though, it's probably more a case of it being easier to store and foraging enough water being difficult.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    As far as I know, no. Boiling water was expensive fuel-wise (water takes a heck of a lot of heat to boil), so they would only do it for cooking soup/making hot drink: i.e. a happy accident. Now, you don't need to be aware something is good for you when it comes with other benefits (like warm food or getting drunk), so I suspect it's more that any civilization that got going either had a reason to clean up some of the water, or got wiped out by cholera, dysentery, etc. before they became famous, and got absorbed by another culture that did have a reason to not drink unhealthy water.
    Hildegard von Bingen, one of the most important scholars of the middle ages, recommended boiling water from certain sources before drinking it.


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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    Cholera wasn't present in Europe until the 1850s.
    So people in India don't count why, precisely?

    Quote Originally Posted by Iruka View Post
    Hildegard von Bingen, one of the most important scholars of the middle ages, recommended boiling water from certain sources before drinking it.
    Sure, but for every one of those, how many can we find really recommending bleeding instead? Or avoiding swamps because of their bad air rather than the mosquitoes?

    The problem here is that this is not like other medical knowledge: widespread ignorance of the issue is important, because it is something everyone has to do pretty much every time, rather than be something that might come up in the life of one out of a hundred people.

    Compare to knowledge of the shape of the Earth: "everyone" knew that the Earth was round in the middle ages, by which we mean the educated elite that bothered to think about it. Most people, to quote Pratchett, didn't care what shape the Earth was as long as it contained, somewhere within reach, their next meal. But boiling water is not something that can be restricted to the educated elite. The question "did the people of the middle ages know to boil water to make it safe" is probably impossible to answer, but given the estate of education standards, I would imagine most people didn't know, and boiled water anyway for reasons that were a lot more obvious than "it cleans the water of sickness".

    I can, however, perfectly believe that they knew it cleaned brackish water, or still water, because those waters tend to be visibly dirty with insects and mud, and precipitating their contents and separating clean water from them is easier when you boil it. But, if so, their knowledge got as far as "it looks transparent, rather than dirty" rather than "you should boil it even if it was transparent to start with, because there are still things in clear water that can make you sick if you don't boil it".

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Remember the nutrition professor who only ate twinkies for 10 weeks?

    In short, so long as you have other sources of needed nutrition, you should be OK. I'd worry about a 100% carb diet, but, ya know, I also don't like beer.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Remember the nutrition professor who only ate twinkies for 10 weeks?

    In short, so long as you have other sources of needed nutrition, you should be OK. I'd worry about a 100% carb diet, but, ya know, I also don't like beer.
    Yeah, but he has a Bachelor's in Psychology, a Master's in Excercise Science, a Doctorate in Excercise Physiology, teaches graduate-level courses in nutrition and energy balance, and heads the Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health. Dude is pretty uniquely qualified to do something like that. And even then, a full third of his daily intake was non-junk food.

    I have no details on the beer guy, but five bucks says he doesn't have anywhere near the same requisite knowledge nor the ancillary 33% other consumables.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by zlefin View Post
    vitamin and protein deficiencies are definitely the main threats.
    This is exactly how you get Korsakov syndrome. It's not the alcohol that damages the brain. Not sure how bad the damage would be after 6 weeks, but long term this is how you drink yourself to death.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    And people in the Middle Ages had cisterns, to stock up on potable water. They are an extremely frequent structure. London had the Great Conduit. Venice in particular had a system of cisterns and wells that allowed a city built on the sea to have enough potable water for centuries (the wells in this case were simply used to access rainwater stored into the cistern).
    I didn't mean to imply that they didn't also drink water. The Romans were transporting water for drinking and other uses a thousand years before after all. Simply that making alcohol kills most dangerous microbes in the process.
    Not knowing what was causing many diseases also means they wouldn't know what to avoid, so not knowing microbes in the water was the cause also means they have no reason to avoid water.

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Roman plumbing had the huge sanitary benefit of not using taps. Except for cisterns, water was constantly running. Microbes could not propagate upstream and all pipes were constanly being flushed, which also greatly reduced the buildup of lead in the water running through lead pipes. Standing water is where almost all of the nasty things are happening.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    So people in India don't count why, precisely?
    Well, given the subject of the thread, because they didn't drink beer? As far as I know, at any rate.

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Do we know which beer exactly he's intending to drink?

    I've heard that beer is good food, it's certainly not usually strongly alcoholic in content.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Do we know which beer exactly he's intending to drink?
    Doppelbach specifically.

    As for his qualifications, he's an employee at a beer company.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Well I don't know about drinking "omly" beer for 46 days, but in terms of ONLY drinking beer it's been done. Surprisingly it's not the Simpsons that did it (unlike everything else):

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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    Wine is full of microbes, and water isn't one of its ingredients anyway. There are some boiled wines, but that is just a way to concentrate them and increase the alcoholic content.

    And people in the Middle Ages had cisterns, to stock up on potable water. They are an extremely frequent structure. London had the Great Conduit. Venice in particular had a system of cisterns and wells that allowed a city built on the sea to have enough potable water for centuries (the wells in this case were simply used to access rainwater stored into the cistern).

    So I don't believe that people in the Middle Ages were afraid to drink water. It's also something I have only ever read in English, or in translations of English texts.

    I do have a theory about where this idea might have come from. You can get ill from drinking water from a place you haven't been before, because you are unused to the microbes in the water, while residents don't have this problem, because they have been drinking it all their lives and their body is accustomed to it. It's a small version of the "seasoning" process, back during colonial times: people from Europe would travel to a new continent, and then keep getting ill, until they built a resistance to all of the endemic microbes, thus becoming "seasoned" (or until they died, I guess). So maybe some unfortunate folk drank water from a pond while hiking, felt really bad, and concluded that water was always inherently unsafe, without modern methods.

    This is not to say that wine wasn't important. It definitely was. The Romans considered it a prime necessity. I don't know much about other alcohol drinks, but they clearly were being produced, taxed, exported and consumed for a long time. There might also have been an underlying addiction issue (I think that there still is one in places where it's normal to drink wine in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, and absence of alcohol affects mood). People may also have enjoyed the energy that comes from not-water in beer (I still know people who drink alcohol-free beer instead of Gatorade), and how drinks acted as a mild analgesic.

    About the actual topic of the thread, I remember that some guy years ago decided to spend a month or two living off beer from a small American brewery. He was expected to also drink water, however, because this beer was very dense and he would have ended up dehydrated. His name was Chris Schryer, and it was actually his way of doing Lent. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/x...-beer-for-lent
    The greek mixing of wine and water goes back to the Illiad at least, and is almost certainly a method for making water potable using a smaller and more transportable liquid.
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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    So people in India don't count why, precisely?
    The question from which this discussion started was specifically about Europe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    Sure, but for every one of those, how many can we find really recommending bleeding instead? Or avoiding swamps because of their bad air rather than the mosquitoes?

    The problem here is that this is not like other medical knowledge: widespread ignorance of the issue is important, because it is something everyone has to do pretty much every time, rather than be something that might come up in the life of one out of a hundred people.

    Compare to knowledge of the shape of the Earth: "everyone" knew that the Earth was round in the middle ages, by which we mean the educated elite that bothered to think about it. Most people, to quote Pratchett, didn't care what shape the Earth was as long as it contained, somewhere within reach, their next meal. But boiling water is not something that can be restricted to the educated elite. The question "did the people of the middle ages know to boil water to make it safe" is probably impossible to answer, but given the estate of education standards, I would imagine most people didn't know, and boiled water anyway for reasons that were a lot more obvious than "it cleans the water of sickness".

    I can, however, perfectly believe that they knew it cleaned brackish water, or still water, because those waters tend to be visibly dirty with insects and mud, and precipitating their contents and separating clean water from them is easier when you boil it. But, if so, their knowledge got as far as "it looks transparent, rather than dirty" rather than "you should boil it even if it was transparent to start with, because there are still things in clear water that can make you sick if you don't boil it".

    Grey Wolf
    I agree that we will not be able to settle the question of wether knowledge of certain sanitary practices was widespread in the population. My point was that people knew that boiling water would make it fit for consumption. What they in most cases did not know, was that also water of apparently good quality needed to be treated that way. I mean, that was one of the things John Snow had to fight against.

    I was also doubtful about your point of energy costs, but after reading up on timber rights and deforestation (especially in Britain), I will concede that point.


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    Default Re: Drink omly beer for 46 days, no food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    The greek mixing of wine and water goes back to the Illiad at least, and is almost certainly a method for making water potable using a smaller and more transportable liquid.
    Given that the Greeks considered barbaric to drink pure wine, I doubt it. Greek wine was much stronger than modern wine. They would have become immediately drunk if they hadn't diluted it. They called drinking pure wine "to drink like a Scythian". Polyphemus is blinded after he gets himself barbarically drunk by drinking pure wine. Odysseus describes this exceptional wine as needing twenty parts of water for each part of wine, and he gives it to the unwary Cyclops without diluting it. The Odyssey itself seems to contain an implicit warning about drinking pure wine and getting drunk, because earlier in the same book IX Odysseus's companions don't heed to his warnings and start drinking pure wine, only to be assaulted by the people they had just raided and having dozens of dead.
    In the Iliad, they also add cheese and flour to the wine, and I don't think that it's meant to make them edible.

    In general, Greek culture had a strong dislike for what could ruin reason. Getting drunk was one of those things. Later on, Catullus was being deliberately edgy when he said he drank pure wine.

    Ancient wine was also very full of deposits, which meant that they needed to pass it through a sieve while they poured it into the water.

    The Greeks also drank pure water (unsurprisingly). Tiresias is supposed to have died because he drank from a spring, but this didn't depend on the quality of the water (the Greeks particularly loved spring water), but on the fact that he was very old and the water was very cold. They used water to clean wounds, and knew that cold water helped stop the bleeding, while warm water was soothing. They had many wells, and fetching water was a typical woman's job. The kykeon was a name used for a variety of mixed drinks, of which at least one was explicitly described as containing no wine, being instead composed of water, barley flour, and mint.

    It's possible that there was a side effect of making water healthier, and that they noticed it, although I really have never read anything about it. Wine was used to treat wounds in antiquity, however. It's unfortunate that there isn't a comprehensive study on wine used in ancient medicine; this article doesn't talk about disinfection through wine on potable water. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10....fbffa6603e5311 Given how much the doctors talked about wine, I assume that they would have said something about water being made healthier by wine. But it's water that is in the service of wine, not the opposite.

    What might be more interesting for the OP is I think I once read that the Greeks had (urban) legends about someone who lived off wine and nothing else. I hope I can find something.

    And here is a reference about boiling river water to make it keep being known in ancient times: http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi...ter&pview=hide The text is the Deipnosophistai by Athenaios, II century AD. Notice that the Greeks had some notion of antiseptic function in silver.
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