The Euphrates and Tigris, the Yangtze, the Nile rivers are all known as cradles of civilization. Water is needed for the development of life so early man sought out waterways in which to settle. Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health”.
As I was reading those words, I realized that water, in the form of blood, is indeed the transportation within our body of such nourishment as well as the voiding of what is not utilized by the body. Water is essential to our body; without water its life perishes. If we drink too much, the possibility of death is also real. Drinking large quantities of water in a short period of time can throw off the body’s balance of electrolytes, causing brain swelling and leading to seizures, coma, or even death.
It is rare, but there have been several highly publicized cases of death from overhydration. Water is necessary for life and it can take life as well. This article reflects on the benefits of water in our body.
The normal body temperature is between 97.7 – 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.5 – 37.5 degrees Celsius. Water helps maintain our body temperature stable even when the body is affected by internal or external sources. The internal would be the body fighting an infection and the external would be the variation in ambient temperatures.
When the body loses more fluid that it takes in, dehydration occurs. Which simply means that the body does not have liquids to perform its normal functions. There must be a balance with an allowable amount of variation of water in the body to maintain a healthy life. According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration can occur within any age group, with the young and older adults being more prone to becoming dehydrated. In adults, exercising and medication are factors.
Interestingly seventy percent of the earth is covered with water yet only 2% of this water is drinkable. That 2% is what keeps mankind alive. The 98% causes dehydration along with other ills.
How much water should a person drink? That question is simple to answer, just drink when you are thirsty. Well, like most ‘simple’ answers, the answer is not as simple as it seems. Our body may need water and we may not be aware because we may ‘feel fine.’ If the body had a temperature gage like an automobile, the answer would be simple: read the gage and keep our intake and voidance within range.
What we do have is a system that requires us to listen and read the signs our body signals, we must learn to read these indicators. The body can use up many liters of water per day. Stress, high temperatures, exercising all can deplete our body’s fluids by the excretion of electrolytes. Electrolytes is an umbrella term for sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium, all necessary to keep the body’s pH balanced. Electrolytes need to be replaced when depleted. When we drink our ‘sports drinks’ after a workout, we replace the loss of nutrients.
According to Benjamin Garcia, a sports scientist and marathon runner, water makes up approximately 45-70% of our total body mass. Mr. Garcia continues by stating that dehydration has been shown to cause an increase in both heart rate and body temperature along with a decline in cardiac output, the amount of blood pumped by the heart around the body in one minute.
Mr. Garcia also says that a simple way to tell if you are dehydrated is urine color – a light color means hydrated, and a dark color implies dehydration, signaling that you may need to consume more fluids. In effect, the body does have a gage to let us know whether fluids are needed. Weight loss and its relationship with water is an interesting topic of discussion because over 33 billion dollars are spent on weight loss products. The weight loss industry is worth $33 billion.
According to an article in the newsletter, Medical News Today, there are six reasons that drinking water may be beneficial in a weight loss program. I would like to look at these reasons and offer my observations.
Water is a natural appetite suppressant – when our stomach is full it signals to the brain to stop eating, water takes up space in the stomach.
Water increases calorie burning – drinking cold water may further enhance water’s calorie-burning benefits because the body expends energy or calories by heating up the water for digestion.
Water helps to remove waste from the body – when waste builds up in the body, people may feel bloated, swollen, and tired. Bloating can add inches to a person’s waist. Staying hydrated is a good way to avoid retaining waste, which may add a few pounds.
Water helps when working out – Water helps the muscle’s connective tissues, and joints to move correct. It also helps lungs, heart, and other organs to work effectively as they ramp up activity during exercise.
Water is necessary to burn fat – without water, the body cannot properly metabolize (which is when an organism undergoes a chemical process necessary for life) carbohydrates. Drinking enough water is essential for burning the fat from food and drink, as well as stored fat.
Drinking water can reduce the overall liquid calorie intake – It is easy to accumulate liquid calories by drinking soda, juice, or sweetened coffee and tea. Most people ignore the calories in the aforementioned sports drinks or alcoholic beverages. Replacing high-calorie drinks with water or any non-calorie drinks such as herbal tea, may have long term weight loss benefits.
I found this article remarkably interesting because America has one of the highest obesity rates in the world today and as mentioned, a large amount of money is spent on losing weight. The statistics are as follows. More than 2 in 3 American adults are overweight and nearly 1 in 3 are obese. Some 1 in 20 are extremely obese. Yet clean drinkable water is as near to each of us as the nearest faucet.
And if water is not our drink of choice, there are fruits and vegetables with high water contents such as berries, grapes, melons, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, and lettuce. The big question is why are Americans so overweight? For the answer, you would have to ask each overweight person. Now, back to water.
Water is necessary for life even though it is often neglected or taken for granted. When the hunters and gatherers settled, they found land that was by rivers and streams to not only feed their crops but more importantly to nourish themselves. Our body will cease to exist without water.
Water is the life within our body, it carries nutrients to every cell by the blood, which we know is mostly water. Charles Mackay wrote “Water is the mother of the vine, the nurse and fountain of fecundity, the adorner and refresher of the world.” We must always cherish and take care of what takes care of us, water.