Water is a fundamental part of our lives. It is easy to forget how completely we depend on it. Human survival is dependent on water — it has been ranked by experts as second only to oxygen as essential for life. Every day your body must replace 2 1/2 quarts of water.
The water you drink literally becomes you! Since such a large percentage of our bodies is water, water must obviously figure heavily in how our bodies function. Aside from aiding in digestion and absorption of food, water regulates body temperature and blood circulation, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, and removes toxins and other wastes. This “body water” also cushions joints and protects tissues and organs, including the spinal cord, from shock and damage. Chronic dehydration may cause certain problems for the body, including hypertension, asthma, allergies, and migraine headaches. Every process in our body occurs in a water medium.
We can exist without food for two months or more, but we can only survive for a few days without water.
Although water covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, only 1 percent of the Earth’s water is available as a source of drinking water.
Among its other benefits, water plays a major part in weight loss. Since water contains no calories, it can serve as an appetite suppressant, and helps the body metabolize stored fat. It may possibly be one of the most significant factors in losing weight!
Make no mistake about it: “Water is the single most important nutrient you take in every day.”
Drinking more water helps to reduce water retention by stimulating your kidneys. 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.
Constipation is a frequent symptom of dehydration. Increased water, along with increased fiber, will usually totally eliminate a constipation problem.
Since the body has no reserve system, it operates a priority distribution system for the amount that has been made available by intake. Adults lose nearly six pints (12 cups) of water every day. We lose 1/2 to one cup a day from the soles of our feet. Another two to four cups are lost from breathing. Perspiration accounts for another two cups. Another three pints (six cups) are lost in urine. The body’s signals of dehydration are frequently joint pain, stomach pain and ulcers, back pain, low energy, mental confusion and disorientation.
The “dry mouth” signal is the last outward sign of extreme dehydration. In addition, the thirst sensation gradually decreases with age. The result is increasing dehydration. We even need water to breathe! As we take in oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide, our lungs must be moistened by water. We lose about one to two pints 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. The body’s defense is to close down the airways.
The kidneys remove wastes such as uric aced, 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 will 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.
Brain tissue is 85 percent 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. Dehydration plays a major role in bringing on migraines. Dehydration causes stress and stress causes further dehydration.
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. The more you exercise the more water you need. Spread out your water intake throughout the day. Do not drink more than four glasses within any given hour. After a few weeks your bladder calms down and you will urinate less frequently, but in larger amounts.
With the recent news about the problems with our water supply, it’s important to still understand the role that water plays in our lives. Times like this make it clear that we must do everything possible to protect the water.
Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. EPA sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems; the Food and Drug Administration sets bottled water standards based on the same EPA tap water standards. Filters are no better a long-term solution than bottled water — in the end, we need to make tap water safe for everyone.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.
Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Glenn Ellis is a health advocacy communications specialist. He is the author of “Which Doctor?” and is a health columnist and radio commentator who lectures, as well as an active media contributor nationally and internationally on health-related topics.
His latest book, “Information is the Best Medicine,” was released in January. For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com.