Water — Life’s Essential Element.
Water is a fundamental part of human life. Depending on your weight and other physical factors, your body is 55 to 75% water, meaning a typical adult will have 10 to 15 gallons of water within their body, and your body must replace quarts of water each day! The water you drink literally becomes you! This means the quantity and quality of water that you drink is extremely important. Water aids in digestion and absorption of food, regulates body temperature, and allows blood circulation. It carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells. It removes toxins and other wastes, cushions and lubricates joints, protects tissues, assists organs, and helps to safeguard the spinal cord from shock and damage.
Conversely, dehydration can be the cause of many ailments. In Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj’s book, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, he notes that chronic dehydration may cause hypertension, asthma, allergies, and migraine headaches.
Water plays an instrumental role in every process of our living bodies. In fact, we can live for 2 months without food, but only a few days without water.
The sad truth is that most people don’t drink enough water. Our bodies respond to this deficiency in numerous ways. When we are not provided the adequate quantity or quality of water, our body struggles to maintain itself with the water it already has. In fact, our body will rob water from muscles and organs not currently being exercised or utilized to provide it to other organs. This “theft” can cause damage to these muscles and/or organs.
Concern About the Earth’s Drinking Water
Water covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, however, only 1% of the Earth’s Small Earth showing 99% 1% Chartwater is available as a source of drinking water. This limited supply is shared with all humans, animals, freshwater fish, and plants. Unfortunately it is often polluted with contaminants such as Asbestos, Bacteria, Cysts (like Cryptosporidium and Giardia), Lead, Mercury, Trihalomethanes, Turbidity, Endocrine Disrupters, and Volatile Organic Chemicals.
Municipal water treatment plants do what they can to treat water, but cannot economically purify the water to the level that it should be for drinking water. After all, they treat all water leaving their plant the same way – the water sent to a factory is the same water we drink. This water has to be stored in a water tank (oftentimes for days) and sent out through miles upon miles of distribution pipes. It is just not feasable for the municipal water treatment plants to give you and your body the quality of water it needs.
This is why many are taking matters into their own hands and taking steps to ensure their drinking water is the best quality. Smart consumers drink bottled water or filtered water, but even bottled water has limitations. Because bottled water is considered a food, its quality standards are overseen by the FDA and are not required to meet EPA standards. According to a National Resource Defense Council study, about 1/3 of bottled water brands tested “unsafe” (outside of the limits established than tap water).
The other shortfall of bottled water is the huge amount of waste and pollution created by empty bottles. According to the Sierra Club and the Pacific Institute, every pint of water requires about 1/4 of a pint of fossil fuels. Furthermore, they state that in the year 2004, 24 billion empty water bottles ended up in landfills or as litter. That is 66 million bottles per day being dumped! Thus, the smartest consumers are drinking water that is freshly treated by a drinking water system installed within their home or business.
Water is the medium for various enzymatic and chemical reactions in the body. It moves nutrients, hormones, antibodies, & oxygen through the bloodstream & lymphatic system. The proteins & enzymes of the body function more efficiently in solutions of lower viscosity. Water is the solvent of the body & it regulates all functions, including the activity of everything it dissolves & circulates.
Water and Weight Loss
Because water contains no calories, it plays a major role in weight loss, serving as an appetite suppressant and helping the body metabolize stored fat. In the article “Water Bearers” from Shape magazine, Elizabeth Austin notes that “water is the single most important nutrient you take in every day. It’s fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and completely without calories.” Drinking more water also helps to reduce water retention by stimulating your kidneys. Studies have recommended that if you are overweight, you should add one glass of water to your daily requirement (of eight glasses) for every 25 pounds overweight. Dehydration leads to excess body fat, poor muscle tone and size, decreased digestive efficiency and organ function, increased toxicity, joint and muscle soreness, and water retention. Water works to keep muscles and skin toned.
The digestion of solid foods depends on the presence of copious amounts of water. Acids and enzymes in the stomach break the food down into a homogenized fluid state which can pass into the intestine for the next phase of digestion. An “acid stomach” will respond to hydration. Constipation is a frequent symptom of dehydration. Increased water, along with increased fiber, will usually totally eliminate this problem. Gastritis, duodenitis, pain from ulcers (as long as the ulcer is not perforated), and heartburn all decrease with increased water intake. Water eliminates toxins and waste from the body.
Adults lose nearly 12 cups of water every day, including up to 1 cup from the soles of our feet, 2 to 4 cups from breathing, 2 cups from perspiration, and 6 cups in urine.
When the body is dehydrated, a form of rationing and distribution begins to ration the available water. Since the body has no reserve system, it operates a priority distribution system for the amount that has been made available by intake. The body’s signals of dehydration are frequently joint pain, stomach pain and ulcers, back pain, low energy, mental confusion, and disorientation. Numerous disease symptoms respond to increased water intake.
If you’re not drinking sufficient water, your body starts retaining water to compensate for this shortage. To eliminate fluid retention, drink more water, not less. If you don’t drink enough water to maintain your body’s fluid balance, you can impair every aspect of your body’s physiological function.
The Thirst Reflex
The “dry mouth” signal is the last outward sign of extreme dehydration. As our bodies try to adjust to being deprived of water, our thirst mechanism becomes disabled, and we receive the “dry mouth” signal as the last outward sign of extreme dehydration. In addition, the thirst sensation gradually decreases with age. The result is increasing dehydration. As we start to give our bodies more water, the thirst mechanism begins to work again, but doesn’t become fully apparent until our bodies are fully hydrated. When we are getting sufficient water, we’re often thirsty.
Water helps regulate our body temperature through perspiration, which dissipates excess heat & cools our bodies.
We even need water to breathe! As we take in oxygen and excrete CO2, our lungs must be moistened by water. We lose 2 to 4 cups of water each day just exhaling. Asthma is frequently relieved when water intake is increased. Histamine plays a key role in regulating the way the body uses and distributes water and helps control the body’s defense mechanisms. In asthmatics, histamine level increases with dehydration. Our defense for the body is to close down the airways.
The kidneys remove wastes such as uric acid, urea, and lactic acid, all of which must be dissolved in water. When there isn’t sufficient water, those wastes are not effectively removed, which may result in damage to the kidneys.
Water lubricates our joints. The cartilage tissues found at the ends of long bones and between the vertebrae of the spine hold a lot of water, which serves as a lubricant during the movement of the joint. When the cartilage is well hydrated, the two opposing surfaces glide freely, and friction damage is minimal. If the cartilage is dehydrated, the rate of “abrasive” damage is increased, resulting in joint deterioration and increased pain.The actively growing blood cells in the bone marrow take priority over the cartilage for the available water that goes through the bone structure. Rheumatoid joint pain frequently decreases with increased water intake and flexing exercises to bring more circulation to the joints.
75% of upper body weight is supported by the water volume that is stored in the spinal disc core. The spinal joints are dependent on different hydraulic properties of water which is stored in the disc core. Back pain is frequently alleviated with hydration.
Brain tissue is 85% water. Although the brain is only 1/50th of the body weight, it uses 1/20th of the blood supply. With dehydration, the level of energy generation in the brain is decreased. Depression and chronic fatigue syndrome are frequently results of dehydration. Migraine headaches may be an indicator of critical body temperature regulation at times of “heat stress.” Dehydration plays a major role in bringing on migraines. Dehydration causes stress, only causing further dehydration.
Morning sickness is a thirst signal of both the fetus and the mother. During the intrauterine stage of cell expansion, water for the fetus’ cell growth has to be provided by the mother. One of the first indicators for water needs of the fetus and the mother seems to be morning sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy.
- Water helps carry nutrients through blood to the baby.
- Water helps prevent bladder infections, constipation, and hemorrhoids.
- The more water you drink, the less water you retain.
- Dehydration can trigger contractions and early labor.
- Amniotic fluid (mostly water) is replaced continuously throughout the day, so more water is needed to replenish the body.
- Hydration is essential to good breast milk production.
Not only is it important to drink enough water, the quality of the water consumed is of paramount concern. Many studies have shown that water contamination risks are greatly increased in infants, due to their size and stage of development, with their brains and bodies being formed.
Water vs. Other Beverages
There is a difference between drinking pure water and beverages that contain water. Fruit juice, soft drinks, coffee, etc., may contain substances that are not healthy and actually contradict some of the positive effects of the added water. Caffeinated beverages stimulate the adrenal glands and act as diuretics, robbing your body of necessary water. Soft drinks contain phosphorus which can lead to depletion of bone calcium. Fruit juices contain a lot of sugar and stimulate the pancreas. These drinks may tax the body more than they cleanse it. A 12 ounce can of regular soda contains the equivalent of 9 teaspoons of sugar. Other beverages also contain dehydrating agents. They may actually reduce the water reserves in the body! Drinking other beverages to the exclusion of water also causes you to lose your taste for water. This is particularly true with children as they become dependent on Sodas and juices.
How much water should you drink?
A non-active person needs a half-ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. That is ten 8 ounce glasses a day if your weight is 160 pounds. For every 25 pounds, you exceed your ideal weight, increase it by one 8 ounce glass. An active, athletic person needs 2/3 ounce per pound which is 13-14 8 ounce glasses a day if you weigh 160 pounds. The more you exercise, the more water you need. Spread out your water intake throughout the day. Do not drink more than 4 glasses within any given hour. After a few weeks your bladder calms down and you will urinate less frequently but in larger amounts.