The wonders and importance of water

Humans can survive for 3 – 4 weeks without food, but only 3 – 4 days without water.  Studies have shown that, in certain conditions, people can survive for a week without water.  This, however, depends on the climate, the person’s age and overall health.  The human body is made up of between 70 – 80% water.  Water is important for many reasons.  It keeps the joints lubricated, helps to keep body temperature regulated by sweating and respiration, helps the kidneys and liver to flush out bodily waste from the body, forms saliva, and so forth.

Did you know that water also helps the body’s cells to maintain their form?  It dissolves salts, sugars, proteins and other substances involved in the digestion and metabolism of food.  It also enables the transportation of chemicals around the body, like glucose.  We are constantly losing water – going to the bathroom, sweating (perspiring) and even when we exhale!  Prof. Packer (from the George Washington University), found that, under extreme conditions, an adult can lose 1 to 1.5 litres of sweat per hour.  He also said that, if the lost water is not replaced, the total volume of body fluid can fall quickly and blood volume may drop (the latter is very dangerous).  If there is too little blood circulating in the body, blood pressure drops to levels that can be fatal.  Important to remember is that, when we stop sweating, our body temperature rises. 

Another study by the University of Rochester Medical Centre, indicates that if dehydration / a loss of more than 10% of the person’s body weight, is a medical emergency.  If this is not reversed and treated urgently, it can lead to death.  An interesting observation is that very mild dehydration can slow down the body’s metabolism with as much as 3%, a 2%-drop in the body’s water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble staying focused and basic arithmetic. 

There are many benefits for drinking water – from feeling cooler on a hot day, to having a less ‘tight’ skin, and you’ll look and feel younger!  Most experts agree that you need to drink between 8 – 10 glasses of water per day.  Drinking enough water not only eases back and joint pain (as valuable nutrients are carried via the synovial fluid to the cartilages); 5 glasses of water a day can reduce colon cancer risk by up to 45%.

The jury is not yet in agreement on filtered (distilled) vs unfiltered (undistilled) water; and bottled or not bottled water.  Many argue that minerals are lost when filtered / distilled.

However, scientifically this is impossible.  Filtered / distilled water enhances the body’s mineral absorption rate, other nutrients, and improves elimination of body waste at cellular level.

And then there is the question of bottled water…

The main thing, before buying the water, is to make sure where the water comes from.  it is convenient, but can become expensive to buy (especially for a household of 2 / more people).  Why not just boil your water before drinking it?

Another factor to consider is:  is the plastic bottles good for the environment?  Especially as many people still do not recycle?  In South Africa alone 1.2 trillion plastic bottles are produced per year!  Many producers opt to use BPA-free plastic, but there are other endocrine-disrupting-chemicals that filter through if exposed to heat or stands too long on the shelf.  So, opt for a glass bottle instead (or a gym-bottle that can be reused).

On a lighter note, if you think you are hungry but not too sure, instead of reaching for the biscuit tin, why not drink a glass of water first?  Wait for 15 minutes to see if you were really hungry or not.  Often dehydration is mistaken for hunger; a headache and daytime fatigue are often signs of dehydration.  And thirst?  That is a sign that you are already starting to dehydrate!

Lastly; if you don’t like the taste of water, add a slice of lemon, mint leaves, strawberries or other berries, to flavour it.  This is not only a healthier option but has less artificial sugars and other substances in to flavour the water.

So; let us all raise a glass to mother nature and drink our water!  Cheers!! 

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