More Than a Thirst Quencher
"We never know the worth of water 'til the well is dry." — English Proverb
It is fortunate that one of the most important substances in the human body is also one of the most abundant on earth. 60% of red blood cells, 75% of muscle tissue and 92% of blood plasma is water.1 It is essential for health for several reasons. Water's power as a solvent keeps your lungs moist so oxygen can dissolve and move into your blood stream. It helps break down large nutrients so the body can use them more efficiently. It serves as a lubricant to help the internal organs and joints slide over each other easily. Water is an amazing substance and its uses in your body are almost limitless. You can live without food for several weeks, but without water you will die in only a few days.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, "Water, water everywhere/Nor any drop to drink." That may be the case for one stranded in the midst of the sea, but usually not a problem for most land-dwellers. Water is one of nature's most abundant substances, yet from children we are given practically every beverage but water. Tea, coffee, cow's milk, carbonated beverages, alcoholic beverages-the list is endless. Many children learn not to like the taste of water and grow up to be adults who will drink almost anything but. Sure, all those other fluids contain water, and some of them, like natural fruit juices and herbal teas have value, but the body needs and craves pure water. Did you know that by the time you become thirsty you are already dehydrated? Caffeinated beverages such as black tea, coffee and colas act as diuretics that actually pull more water out of your body, causing you to be more dehydrated than you were to begin with. Many beverages contain an amazing amount of refined sugars that add empty calories to your diet and cause your blood sugar to soar and then drop. Milk contains saturated fat. Who wants to drink a glass of cholesterol? Milk also contains lactose, a sugar that the human body cannot digest, resulting in bloating and flatulence. The phosphorus that helps keep soda bubbly helps to break down your bone tissue and leads to osteoporosis. Let's not even get into what laboratory compounds it takes to make your drinks those bright, happy colors!
Now doesn't a glass of clean, pure water sound great? Adults should drink a minimum of 2.5 quarts per day,2 more during and after exertion since sweating can cause you to lose more than 1.5 quarts per hour.3 Not surprisingly, the average American consumes no where near that amount. When dehydrated you will see and feel the results including thirst, dry skin, constipation, headaches, congestion, and dark, concentrated urine. That is just the tip of the iceberg in comparison to what is going on inside your organs during a water shortage. Each cell produces waste which now has no where to go. Toxins build up and your liver and kidneys work overtime trying to deal with these poisons. Those same toxins, with an adequate amount of pure water each day, would normally be flushed harmlessly out of the body.
What are the best sources of drinking water? Water purified by distillation is inexpensive and is the most pure, followed by filtered water, having used an adequate filter. You can find out what is in your tap water by contacting your water supplier and asking for their annual water quality report or you can have an independent laboratory test a sample of your water. Private wells should be tested annually. Bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the same water quality standards on both.4
Your body requires more water than dictated by your thirst. Water is necessary for life, health and vibrancy. You have seen a plant wilt and wither without it, how much more destruction occurs in the human body with a chronic water shortage? Get yourself a tall glass of pure, crystal-clear water now.
Written by Sheryle Beaudry, RN,C, BSN -Copyright © 2000
1 Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, Gerard J. Tortora and Nicholas P. Anagnostakos, Harper & Row, New York, 1990, 37
2 Nutritional Basics, Katie Sharp and Bonnie Chi-Lum, MD, MPH, American Medical Association , 1998
3 Simple Remedies for the Home, Clarence W. Dail, MD and Charles S. Thomas, PhD, MMI Press, Harrisville, New Hampshire, 1985, 77
4 Frequently Asked Questions About Drinking Water, US Environmental Protection Agency, 2000