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We can survive for weeks without food, but no more than a few days without water. Sally-Ann Creed explains why we need to drink more of it.
A teaspoon of water a day is not enough to keep the body alive and a bathtub a day would kill it – but just the right amount of fresh water taken throughout the day is life giving, cleansing and absolutely vital for optimum health.
THE ROLE OF WATERWater helps cells to maintain their form; it dissolves salts, sugars, proteins, and many other substances involved in metabolism and the digestion of food; it enables the transportation of many chemicals around the body in solution, for example glucose; the kidneys and liver use water to flush out bodily waste; and water is necessary for the maintenance of a stable body temperature through perspiration and evaporation.
DEHYDRATIONAmazingly, although water is freely available to almost all of us, many people live in a state of near dehydration most of the time. It’s said that our thirst mechanism is so weak it’s often mistaken for hunger. Next time you feel hungry try drinking a glass of water, and wait around 15 minutes to see whether you really are hungry after all. Drink water when you have a headache as this is often merely a symptom of dehydration.
Caffeine, alcohol, exercise and blood sugar imbalances lead to water loss from the body, and ultimately dehydration if not replenished. A very obvious symptom of dehydration is daytime fatigue. Even very mild dehydration can slow down the body’s metabolism by as much as 3%. To realise the immense importance of water in our bodies, consider how a mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic arithmetic, and difficulty staying focused. Because water makes up 60 to 70% of the human body, a loss of just 10% of this volume may even cause hallucinations, while a loss of 20 to 25% may cause death.
Start slowlyThe benefits of drinking fresh water are enormous but some are put off by the taste and the thought of drinking a lot of water. To get into the healthy habit of drinking water take baby steps. Start very slowly and increase as and when you can. You don’t need to go from nothing to 10 glasses a day. Start by filling one glass a day with water, and make sure that by the end of the day you have sipped your way through it by taking a mouthful every half hour or so until you realise you have finished it without even noticing. Then move to two glasses a day, and so on. You will feel cooler on hot days, less ‘tight’ in your skin, and look and feel years younger.
WHAT KIND OF WATER SHOULD WE DRINK?Arguments around this question persist, but whatever you do you must drink water – if you have no other option, good old tap water is fine. If you do have the option, many health professionals will suggest distilled water. Distilling your own water is simple, but you will need to purchase a small distiller that can do around four litres every three to four hours. This is more than enough for the average family and an excellent investment in your health.
Benefits of drinking distilled waterSome people question the possibility of minerals being ‘leached’ out of the body by distilled water – but scientifically this is actually impossible. On the contrary distilled water enhances the mineral absorption rate in the body; it improves absorption of all nutrients, including minerals, and leads to improved elimination of wastes at cellular level. Consider this: rain water is in fact just pure distilled H2O – two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom, and as such is ‘natural’ distillation, which is mimicked by distillers. The pollutants and heavy metals present in water today have made water purification something everyone thinks about. A common mistake is to resort to bottled water.
What about bottled water?Bottled water is not the answer. Firstly it is horrendously expensive (on average you pay R7 for one 500 ml bottle as compared to less than 10c for 500 ml of tap water.)
Then there is the cost to the environment: 1.2 trillion plastic bottles are produced each year in South Africa and most of them litter our streets and beaches and pollute the ocean.1Even though producers are increasingly using the safer BPA-free plastic for bottling, these plastic bottles contain other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can escape if the plastic is exposed to heat or has too long a shelf life.1 The health risks of this are unknown and therefore best avoided.
So plastic containers may be unsafe. If you are going to buy bottled water always opt for glass. It’s recyclable, kind to our planet, and won’t leach dangerous hormone-disrupting chemicals into the liquid. But better still – use distilled water and store it in glass, or use a stainless steel flask or water container to take your water around with you.But if you are really committed to drinking pure water, a distiller is really the only option. If a distiller is too expensive, explore water purification and filter systems, but make sure they are good quality.
HOW MUCH WATER?Work out your ideal water requirements by multiplying 30 ml of water for every kilogram of your body weight. So if you weigh 70 kg you would drink 2.1 litres a day. This is an easy way to work out your requirements.
If you drink a lot of home-made fruit and vegetable juices, your requirement for pure water will drop due to the fact that beautiful distilled water is present in these fresh foods. Even eating sprouts or juicing them will give you a fair amount of pure water along with a host of necessary plant-borne minerals and nutrients. Drinking herbal teas is also regarded as part of your daily water intake.
It is fine to drink water with meals: The body is going to draw water from the blood supply to help digest your food. Enzymes are not weakened when ‘diluted’ with water and water is an integral part of digestion with many litres of water used in the process.
WATER AND NUTRITIONDigestion is the beginning of the series of biological events that take place as food is taken into the body. Eventually the nutrients in some form will reach every cell. Nutrients begin their travels by entering the bloodstream which will carry them to where they are needed. There are over 70 trillion cells in the human body, and each one has an important part to play in our well-being.
Water passes through our cells on a regular basis but the cell has no way of passing anything through it that is not water soluble. Water serves as a lubricant in digestion and almost all other body processes. The water in saliva facilitates chewing and swallowing, ensuring that foods will slide easily down the oesophagus. Water in other digestive fluids sustains movement throughout the gastrointestinal system. The watery fluid surrounding such body parts as joints and eyeballs helps them move smoothly and is in fact their only lubricant.The solvent properties of water are nutritionally important in several ways. Enzymes, hormones and co-enzymes are all dissolved in watery body fluids and act on metabolites (amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) that are similarly dissolved. Water also serves as a solvent for waste products such as urea, carbon dioxide and various electrolytes that the body excretes. As a solvent containing these substances, water is necessary for transport to and from every single cell of the body. Water also serves as a reactant in intracellular reactions and plays an important role in the maintenance of our electrolyte balance.
CONCLUSIONWater is your body's most important nutrient. Involved in every bodily function, it makes up 70 to 75% of your total body weight. Water helps you to maintain body temperature, metabolises body fat, aids in digestion, lubricates and cushions organs, transports nutrients, and flushes toxins from your body. In short, we can’t live without it.
Interesting water facts
The total amount of water in the body of an average adult is 37 litres.
It has been suggested that 8 to 10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for a very large proportion of sufferers, as it delivers valuable nutrients via the synovial fluid to the cartilage, thus rebuilding healthy cartilage and ‘plumping’ it up.
Water regulates the temperature of the human body. If you have a fever, you need plenty of water.
Five glasses of water a day may reduce colon cancer risk by up to 45%, including other cancers, especially bladder cancer.
Water is the perfect drink – it cleans, has no calories, no glycaemic index, contributes to weight loss, more energy and clearer skin – and doesn’t really cost much.
Charging water by David WolfeCharging water means giving a ‘life-pattern’ or structure to the water at a microscopic level. The hydrogen molecules in water are closer together if the water is charged. This makes the water more polar (strongly electrical).
Adding a few pinches of Celtic grey mineral sea salt or Himalayan pink salt is a great way to charge water. These are some of the best non-vegetable sources of salt, each containing more than 80 different minerals in ratios similar to those in sea water. They are ‘raw’ salts, so they differ from coagulated table salt and most ‘kiln-dried’ sea salts that have had their minerals oxidised away through heating.
Other ways to charge water include adding MSM powder crystals, or squeezing fruit juices or placing leaves of plants into the water. Lemons and/or limes are an excellent choice to squeeze into water because they have incredible cleansing and mucus-dissolving properties. Putting water under full moonlight charges it as well, and running it through a vortex (the tornado effect) improves its quality.
Dr Masaru Emoto has shown in his books The Messages from Water (volumes one to three) that water responds to loving thoughts, and even to words written on a water bottle. Some believe that praying over your water before drinking it is helpful. Water quality seems to always reflect our actions and intentions.
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