Sunday, January 18, 2009

Water, Our Need For It And Why

Bottled Water

The human body is composed of approximately 70% water. Water is contained in the cells of the body (intracellular fluid), in the arteries and veins (blood plasma), and in the spaces between the blood vessels and cells (Interstitial fluid). The body's water supply is responsible and involved in nearly every bodily process.

Water is required for the distribution of nutrients, electrolytes, hormones, and other chemical messengers throughout the body, as well as the removal of waste products. Water is involved in cellular energy production and the maintenance of body temperature. It is also an important structural component of skin, cartilage, and other tissues.

When we eat, breathe, and use our muscles, our body creates residue waste products that the body has to get rid of. Good clean water helps us do this. Without enough water we do not get rid of these waste products? The waste products that we do not discard have to be stored somewhere within our body.

Storing this waste seems to contribute to, or even help cause, the following: lower back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, headaches/migraines, asthma, allergies, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, neck pain.

Besides ridding the body of toxins, water helps to reduce sodium buildup in the body, relieve constipation, and maintain proper muscle tone. Water helps maintain normal body temperature.

Water acts as a solvent for the vitamins and minerals we need everyday for our cells to do their jobs.

A precarious balance exists between fluid intake and output. You get water from three sources: drink (60 percent), food (30 percent), and cellular metabolism (10 percent). At the same time, you constantly lose water. A sedentary person in a temperate climate loses about two quarts of fluid per day, primarily through urine, sweat, and respiration. That amount can jump to four to six quarts per day in hot and/or humid weather, and one to three quarts per hour during physical activity. It’s easy to see how fragile your body’s water balance is.

Therefore, replacing the water that is continually being lost is very important.. While the body can survive without food for about five weeks, the body cannot survive without water for longer than five days.

75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (It is possible that this applies to half world population who are in modern countries with the sort of food and so on that we have.)

In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 5%.

One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. (If you feel tired some morning, try drinking a pint of pure water....)

Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers. (Maybe the so called arthritis is just a water deficiency in some cases!)

A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

According to some nutritionists, drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

During a state of drought your body switches into its “water conservation” mode. One of the primary ways it ensures adequate hydration is by holding onto sodium. The result is sodium retention, followed by a rise in fluid levels — the precise mechanism involved in abnormal blood pressure

With more severe dehydration, your body is forced to get by on reduced fluid volume, so it compensates by temporarily closing down capillaries. While the brain and other vital organs continue to receive enough blood to meet their basic needs, some tissues must go without. As capillaries remain closed, the tissues they supply become starved of nutrients and bogged down with cellular wastes. Among the first areas affected are cartilage and synovial fluid, and the result is discomfort in the joints.

In addition, water-conserving chemicals are released. Chief among these is histamine, which reduces water loss, but at the same time may trigger respiratory problems. Prostaglandins and kinins are released as well, which can lead to a variety of discomforts. As you can see, too little water causes much more than thirst and a dry mouth — it parches your entire body.

If you’re only producing small quantities of dark, concentrated urine, you’re not drinking enough. (To ensure a good night’s sleep, try cutting back on fluids two or three hours before bedtime.)

Why aren’t the health benefits of water discussed more often?

Part of the answer is simply that water is free, so there’s little to be gained by advertising its benefits. Water can't be patented and owned by a company. Even though you can buy bottled water, most people don’t have to buy bottled water to have clean water to drink every day. This is why you often don’t hear very much about the benefits of water. For example, it is not well known that many headaches are caused by slight dehydration and can be alleviated by drinking water; instead, we are told to take aspirin or other (and more expensive) analgesics. If you often get a headache after exertion or after crying, the water you drink to take the pill with may be doing as much to relieve the pain as the medicine is.

NOTE: I have had people tell me they do not like plain water. The effects are markedly cut down if one drinks juice or coffee, etc. Digestion comes to play, and the body works, and the water is mixed in with the digestive juices and the effect is lost. It is recommended that you not drink your large quantities of water with meals. A huge quantity of water in the stomach with the food can dilute the digestive enzymes there and affect how easily the digestion occurs.

How much water?

You should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. As a rule of thumb, you should drink a half ounce of water for every pound of body weight, unless you're very active, in which case you should increase your water intake to two-thirds an ounce per pound of body weight daily.

Thus, if you weigh 120 lbs., you need to take 60 oz. of water, or a little less than 2 quarts or 8 glasses of water. If you are 210 lbs, you need to take 105 oz of water, or about 7 quarts or 13 glasses of water.

8 oz = 1 regular glass of water
32 oz = one quart (4 glasses of water)
128 oz = one gallon (16 glasses of water)

Getting enough water

But this might not be enough. Do not use the thirst mechanism as a gauge to judge hydration. The thirst mechanism kicks in only after we've lost about 6 percent of water weight -- way too late to prevent dehydration. The problem of getting enough water becomes more common in late adulthood, because our need for water actually increases. Our skin and mucous membranes become thinner and lose more water, and our kidneys function less efficiently, so our need for water increases. While a person under age 50 should drink 8 glasses of water a day, 10 glasses are advised for those in their fifties and 10-12 eight oz glasses for active people 60 and over. Also, older people don't feel thirst the way a younger person does, so if your are older, you have to get in the habit of drinking water even if they're not thirsty.

Remember also that you have to drink more water when taking herbs.


Water is closely connected to fat gain and loss. This has nothing to do with water retention. Water doesn't have any calories, but.....

When the body begins to run low of any vital nutrient -- even water -- it will trigger hunger to motivate you to go get some more of whatever it needs. This is true for water because most foods provide some amount of water. It can, however, provide many unneeded calories. The thirst sensation is not a reliable way to decide when to drink water. You may often feel the need for water as hunger instead of as thirst.

When dieting, it is important to consciously drink water to make sure you get enough.

Water is a necessary part of the body’s fat utilization process. Water assists the body in metabolizing stored fat because your liver, which metabolizes fat, becomes overloaded when your kidneys don’t get enough water. Your liver’s fat processing function is compromised when it has to do the kidneys’ job as well. Water also helps suppress appetite and relieve fluid retention problems.

There is a common water strategy used by dieters to drink a glass of water when you get up in the morning and then every two hours - whether you feel like it or not. Just make it part of your routine.

Remember that low-calorie sodas cannot be substituted for water and in some cases can have a negative effect on dieting. See our article on Soda

You also have to remember that the need for water can be aggravated by common substances that suppress thirst such as coffee, tea, alcohol and some drugs.

You also need to drink more water when you are taking herbs.

Situations involving our need for water


We have to be careful of this in a lot of circumstances. When flying in an airplane, your body can become dehydrated. Make sure you drink a glass of water for each hour you spend in the air. When you have the flu, you need to drink plenty of water to replace the fluids you lose through sweating and vomiting. Constipation is a sign of not drinking enough water. Caffeine can also cause dehydration.

Sports & Exercise:

Several days before an event, competitive athletes should 'hyper-hydrate', Hyper-hydration is the process of drinking plenty of water for two to three days before an athletic event. The body is about 60 percent water and it needs to be fully hydrated to perform optimally. When the outside temperature or humidity is especially high, the body requires even more water because it must work harder to cool itself.

Water retention:

Fluid retention can be caused by excess salt intake. Drink plenty of water to help flush out the salt. You also need potassium to balance out the salt/potassium ratio.


Water is also valuable as a digestive aid especially when combined with activated charcoal. This type of charcoal is available (see Where to get these supplement?) Added to a glass of water, charcoal provides quick relief from most gastric discomfort. Mixed with enough water to form a paste, its great first aid for sprains and insect bites.

Bad Breath:

Drinking lots of water and peppermint tea with a pinch of anise, caraway or cinnamon.


Water is needed to flush the liver and dilute the bile. Without enough water the bile secretions can turn into gallstones. For additional information see the article Gall bladder for this sort of problem

Kidney stones:

Water helps decrease the concentration of the stone-forming elements in the urine.

Urinary tract infections:

People who get infections usually don't get enough water. The urine sits in the bladder too long and bacteria can build up. Drinking lots of water will flush out the bacteria. Drinking water won't cure an already established infection, but it can make urinating more comfortable and is a barrier to a recurrence.


Drinking lots of water keeps urine dilute and promotes the excretion of uric acid. Gout is caused by the formation of sharp crystals of uric acid forming in the fluid of the joint.

Where we get our water

Obtaining quality water would seem to be an easy matter, however, there are different types of water.

Tap Water:

Many people assume that when they turn on their kitchen tap, they are getting clean, safe, healthy drinking water. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Regardless of the origin of the tap water, it is vulnerable to a number of different types of impurities. Leaching from pipes may give the water dangerous levels of cooper, iron, zinc and arsenic. Other undesirable substances found in water, include radon, fluoride, and cooper, and other heavy metals. Other contaminants, such as fertilizers, asbestos, cyanides, herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals may leach into ground water through the soil, or into any tap water from plumbing pipes. Although the body uses these minerals in trace amounts, it can not be used in this form. Other substances including chlorine, carbon, lime, phosphates, soda ash, and aluminum sulfate, are intentionally added to public water supplies to kill bacteria, adjust pH, and eliminate cloudiness, among other things.

Strange smells or tastes in water that was previously fine could mean chemical contamination, however, many toxic hazards that work their way into the water do not change its taste, smell or appearance.

Flouride, a common addition to our drinking water, is yet another enemy of magnesium., it can change it into an unusable compound that is rejected as a waste product. Ironically, this flouride is supposed to protect our teeth against decay, yet it results in loss of one of the very minerals our teeth need for the hard enamel that keeps them from decay. Much of our tap water is a chemical soup these days, so for more reasons than simply flouride content, drinking pure spring water might be a good idea.

Chlorine used as a disinfectant to rid water of harmful bacteria, combines with naturally occurring organic matter to form trihalomethanes - compounds suspected of contributing to cancer.

Impure Water:

What is your drinking water like? IS it free of toxic metals like lead? Is its mineral content well balanced? Any mineral in excess, sodium for example, can cause illness when ingested over long periods of time. Impure water is an environmental stress of which you are often not even aware. Such stress can deplete your store of vitamin E.

Water with aluminum in it has been thought to be linked to Alzheimer's disease, although this connection is still a controversial subject. This is another reason to drink pure water. Aluminum can be gotten from impure water, although drinking from aluminum cans and aluminum cookware might be a problem. It is felt that aluminum cans are coated with plastic to prevent the acid from the soda or juice from breaking down the aluminum. Sticking with glass or plastic containers is, however, an extra precaution.

Bottled water comes in many forms

To meet the needs of a thirsty population, the variety of water products, from spring water to distilled to sparkling and flavored brands, is on the increase. Bottled water can be classified by use - a basic drinking water or a specialty beverage; by its source - spring, well water, or public water supply; and by the presence of carbonation. Read the labels of any bottled water you buy. You may find that the bottle of "spring water" you bought actually came from a municipal water supply.

The United States FDA truth-in-labeling requirements are clear, nonetheless, some bottlers still make erroneous claims.

Bottled water is required to meet the same quality standards and purity standards as public drinking water. FDA guidelines for imported waters require that the water be obtained from sources free of pollution, bottled under sanitary conditions, free from microorganisms. Bottled water generally, but not always have fewer contaminants than tap water because of different purifying methods employed along with filtration and aeration. Ozone is used in bottled water instead of chlorine as a disinfectant. Unlike chlorine, ozone does not combine with organic material to form triholomethanes, nor does it have an aftertaste or odor that occurs with chlorine.

For health's sake, make sure that the water you drink is as pure as you can get.

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