The Life Giving Properties of Water
In any place that I have gone to vacation or visit, the scenery was always more beautiful when it contained a body of water. There is something about the serenity of moving water as it bathes the land, whether it is a mountain range, beach, or flatland. The sound soothes the mind and the feeling soothes the body.
It is as though our body innately knows and connects with the intrinsic qualities of the water. The fact that the body is, according to most experts, between 70% and 80% water only further supports this connection. Sixty percent of the water in our bodies is contained in the cells. Our brain is 75% water. The muscles are approximately 75% water as well. The bones contain 22% water. These figures are not mere numbers on a page. They give credence to the idea of just how much our body relies on simple H2O.
The Role of Water in the Body
Water plays a significant role in the functioning of the body and is a common denominator for almost all processes that the body performs. From the basics of hydrating our cells to the complex elimination of toxins, water is a primary necessity.
Water is instrumental in many processes of our organs. Water is necessary for the elimination of substances through the kidneys. In the complex digestive cycle, water is necessary to ensure that the body properly utilizes the function of enzymatic and chemical reactions necessary for proper digestion and metabolism. The colon requires water for increased transit time and proper elimination. In addition to these important processes, water has other very valuable roles, including:
• It is part of the self healing process
• It is necessary for perspiration
• It is used internally to cool the body
• It is a primary component of circulation
• It creates a protective cushion for the joints
• It maintains body temperature
• It dissolves minerals necessary to be assimilated for proper use by the body
• It keeps the respiratory system moist and functioning
The Benefits of Water
Water. This clean, clear, nourishing element has vital functions in our body processes. It is not hard to imagine that it would also have a role in assisting the healing and prevention of many problems that occur in the body. From the simple standpoint that approximately 60% of the body's water is in the cells, it stands to reason that if there is a breakdown, lack of water may be a contributing factor. The benefits of water could fill a book. Review the following and see if any seem familiar:
• Prevents constipation
• Instrumental in the treatment of arthritis, obesity, arteriosclerosis, and kidney disorders
• Benefits bowel and bladder disorders
• May dissipate chronic headaches
• May help alleviate anxiety
• Instrumental in slowing down aging
• Helps to prevent food intolerances
• Keeps skin soft and supple
• Neutralizes acidity and heartburn
• Is an ally in relieving and preventing muscle pain
• Can reduce colitis pain
• Helps to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease
How much do we need?
The amount of water that we need is not an exact science. Factors such as how much protein is ingested and amount of exercise can increase and decrease the amount of water needed. Research has come up with some simple approximations based on the average amount ingested and eliminated.
Based on a normal 24 hours day of good health, our body loses approximately 2.8 quarts of water. This is easily broken down into body processes. We lose approximately 1.5 quarts from urine, 25.4 ounces through the skin, 13.5 ounces from breathing, and 5.1 ounces from elimination. The total approximate elimination is 2.8 quarts per day.
The body makes approximately 10 ounces from normal metabolism and we ingest approximately one quart from food. This leaves a deficit that is used to determine the minimum and maximum needs. Six 8 ounce servings represents the minimum that we need if we are eliminating properly and are ingesting water filled foods such as fruits and vegetables. Eight 8 ounces servings represent the maximum our body can use in a 24-hour period without increasing the risk of electrolyte imbalance. Here are a few variations to consider:
• Increase the amount in warm, humid weather, with heightened activity, during recovery from illness, with a high fat diet, with a high protein diet, with low calorie or restricted diets, with high fiber diets, and with high caffeine and alcohol consumption.
• Decrease the need with a high fruit and vegetable diet.
General Guidelines for exercise
These recommendations are based on ACSM guidelines for fluid intake during exercise and strenuous activity:
• General Guidelines: 8 to 12 ounces before exercise with 3 to 4 ounces every fifteen minutes during. Add 16 ounces after exercise for each pound of weight lost during exercise (strenuous exercisers will notice the greatest difference)
• < one hour exercise: Pre-exercise water plus 16 to 32 ounces. No sports drink necessary.
• 1-3 hours of exercise: Pre-exercise water plus 32-50 ounces per hour of exercise. Water is appropriate but sports drinks will have an added benefit.
• >3 hours of exercise: Use the same recommendations as 1-3 hours but use a sports drink for hydration.
Problems with Inadequate Water Consumption
By now, you are seeing the great benefits of water on the body. The most important part of the discussion, however, is what happens to us when we do not drink enough. In normal functioning, we have a thirst mechanism that lets us know that we need hydration. As we age, that thirst mechanism is not as efficient. Unfortunately, thirst is the last mechanism in the process of hydration. The typical reaction of merely quenching the thirst is not enough to create adequate hydration. The result of reduced importance of water intake is detrimental to the body. Consider this:
• A 1% loss increases body temperature and makes it difficult to concentrate.
• A 1% to 2% loss begins the thirst process begging you to add water.
• A 3% to 4% loss decreases the mental and physical processes and forces a diminished efficiency. The muscle loses 8% of its strength to perform.
• A mere 5% loss severe enough to create confusion and weakness.
Some problems associated with poor intake are:
• Dry mouth and lips
• Problems with joint and joint pain
• Increased fatigue
• Frequency of infections from a slowed lymphatic system
• Poor concentration
• Dull, dry, brittle hair
• Skin dryness
• Dark urine
• Frequent headaches
• Eye puffiness
• Increased weight
• High blood pressure from thickening of the blood
• Digestive problems such as acid indigestion
If that is not enough to convince you to increase water intake to optimal intakes, consider this. By depriving the body of something so easily given and so inexpensive to provide, we are purposefully compromising our quality of life. We begin to poison ourselves with our own metabolic waste products as the body tries desperately to conserve water and retain it. The water that is retained is dirty, toxic, and gross. Our kidneys have to use that dirty water to clean the body. Our cells have to use that nasty water to bathe. The brain has to use that gross water to process our complicated thoughts. We accumulate excess fat and our muscle tone diminishes as the body struggles to adapt.
Then, we consider the words written here and we drink cool, clean, purifying water. The body rejoices as it is enabled the proper tools to allow it to be its best. Our cells are cleansed. Our kidneys are cleansed. Our physiological state is uplifted.
The Benefits of Water on Weight Loss
It makes sense that if water is so beneficial, it must have some effect on weight loss. Adequate water intake plays a big part not just on reducing water retention and weight loss but also on proper fat metabolism. It also plays a very big role in the metabolic process by which the body burns calories and produces energy. For that reason, any level of dehydration will greatly affect metabolism.
Most people who do not take in adequate water retain water at a rate of 10-15 pounds. To put that into perspective, you could effectively lose 10-15 pounds of bloating and water just by the simple act of drinking it.
In addition to reducing water weight, which by the way is real weight that can be kept off with almost no effort, water assists in the removal of stored fat. The liver is the most effective organ of processing, elimination, and use of fat. To do its job, however, it needs water just like every other part of the body. Not only does water assist in the removal of stored fat, adequate intakes accelerate it because the liver is better at its job when the body is properly hydrated.
What Beverages Constitute Proper Intake?
Any fluid will increase hydration. The question is whether it will create more stress by forcing the body to act to purify it for proper use. Good sources of water are served up with little need for processing by the body. In addition to the standard forms of water, decaffeinated tea, in moderate, amounts will serve as a good serve as a good source of fluid intake. Other forms of fluid intake, such as coffee and alcohol, have potential problems.
• Alcohol and caffeine: Diuretics that stress the kidneys and promote fluid loss. Moderation is a key factor. One or two cups per day, according to leading experts will not compromise hydration levels based on the diuretic properties of these drinks. Soda contains high amounts of phosphorus that leaches calcium from the bones and high amounts of sugar that spikes blood sugar while increasing the need for water.
• Fruit juice: Very high simple sugar content that spikes blood sugar because of lack of fruit fiber. High blood sugar increases the need for water.
• Milk: High protein content that places stress on the kidneys to clear away the by-products of protein metabolism. Should be minimized.
Water is the most vital element for proper functioning of the body. Having enough water to hydrate the body allows it to function optimally enough to increase energy and vitality. It is an easy way to increase the self-healing process as well as to prevent problems from occurring.