Water

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Latest Edit: Iva 2012-5-07 (EDT)

Water.jpg
"You're not sick; you're thirsty. Don't treat thirst with medication." Dr. F. Batmanghelidj

Water is the primary chemical component of life. 3/4 of the earth's surface is covered with water and human beings are about 65%. Water is fundamental to all life on earth and is one of the key determinants to health. A lack of water results in dehydration.

Every one of the body’s tissues and organs, as well as every one of the body’s sustaining processes, such as thinking, nerve function, blood circulation, digestion, locomotion and elimination, requires water in order to function properly. The lack of water is a common contributing factor to disease. Drinking it and using it as a therapeutic tool are essential to healing.

Contents

Properties of Water

The diverse properties of water provide insight into why it is so versatile and essential to life.[1]

  • Composition
Water is composed of two part hydrogen and one part oxygen. H2O = H – O – H
  • Neutral Component
The water molecule is electrically neutral. It contains both positive and negative charges, yet the positive and negative charges are not distributed uniformly. This makes a hydrogen atom always available to "stick" to another element in order to balance its energy. Water plays an essential role in maintaining the acid-alkaline balance within the body. Whenever this balance is disrupted chemical reactions within the body are disrupted resulting in symptoms or the development of disease. The optimal pH level of water is about 6.5-6.8 which is slightly acidic (the pH range is 1-14, with 7 being neutral). If water is too acidic or too alkaline, this can upset the normal pH level of your body.
  • Versatile
Water is the only substance that is found as a gas, liquid, and solid in the normal temperature ranges found on the Earth’s surface. The concept of a hydrologic cycle explains the circulation of water from the oceans to the atmosphere to the land and back giving us a renewable supply of fresh water and air. The water molecule is in permanent motion and is perpetually exchanging energy with whatever it comes in contact with.
  • Universal Solvent: Water can dissolve more substances than any other liquid - that's why it is essential not only for many metabolic functions, but also for life on earth. As water circulates it dissolves rocks, minerals and all organic materials, providing the salts and oxygen to all living bodies. Water is the primary means by which chemicals, hormones and nutrients are dissolved and transported throughout the body.
  • Redox Potential
Redox potential (rH2) indicates whether the water has the capacity to provide electrons to the body. Available electrons in water provide energy to the body by way of cellular respiration and an oxygen-dependent process known as the Krebs cycle. The body needs electrons to make necessary chemical reactions happen. While electrons also come from food, it is essential the water we drink provides energy-rich electrons to help replenish and maintain the high proportion of water our body needs.
  • Resistivity
Resistivity (r) is a measure of the mineral content of water. Ideally, water will have a resistivity of at least 6,000 ohms, which indicates a fairly low mineral content. Minerals from water are poorly absorbed compared to those found in foods. Water with a high mineral content can put undue stress on kidneys and other organs and tissues in the body.
  • Buoyancy
Water gets denser as it cools (like most things) but only down to 4° C (39.2° F) and then its density decreases as the temperature continues to go down and it freezes . That is why ice floats on water. Imagine what would happen with sea life without this feature.
  • Heat Capacity: Heat capacity is the ability to gain or lose heat without changing form (go from solid to liquid or liquid to gas). Water has the highest heat capacity of all common liquids and the highest latent heat capacity of any common substance. Latent heat capacity is determined by the amount of extra energy you have to put into a liquid to change its state from solid - liquid - gas. This water property makes it an effective coolant for the human body via evaporation or perspiration, extending the range of temperatures in which humans can exist.

Importance

Every system in the body depends on water. When you're born you are about 90% water, as an adult that percentage can drop to about 60%. The average water content of different parts of the body is as follows: lungs 90%, blood 82%, brain 76%, muscles 75% and bones 25%. There is a correlation between the onset of disease and the amount of water within the body.

  • Moistens tissues Water provides a moist environment for all mucous membranes including the ear, mouth, nose and throat. It lubricates joints and is the base for saliva and all bodily fluids.
  • Protects organs and tissues Every single living cell in made up of water (intracellular fluid) and is surrounded by water (extra cellular fluid). Water acts to cushion and support organs and tissues.
  • Increases overall energy The chemical properties of water make it the primary energizer of all functions in the body. It produces hydroelectric energy at the level of cell membranes, particularly in the nervous system. Water transfers its hydrolytic energy to elements as they are broken down so that the body can use them. Water is also the adhesive that bonds cell membranes. Therefore, it plays an all-encompassing role in energy metabolism and the physiologic functions of the body.
  • Cellular transmission Water breaks down all elements to their primary constituents for absorption into the system for further use, for example, proteins to amino acids, starch to sugar, and fats to fatty acids. Water dissolves minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible for transport to every cell in the body.
  • Cellular communication Thoughts, emotions, nervous system transmission thought to be transmitted by water making it the primary mode of cellular communication.
  • Regulation of body temperature The heat capacity of water controls the regulation of body temperature through perspiration and by evaporation.
  • Elimination of toxins There are six main routes of elimination including urine, bowels, sweat, breath and menses. Water is the primary constituent of them all. Water is also responsible for flushing out and dissolving toxins and waste products.

Influences

  • How Much Water Do You Require?

Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine, bowel movements and from other physiological functions. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming adequate water and foods which are high in water. Adequate hydration reduces the likelihood of overeating and improves the function and health of human beings. The amount of adequate water depends on many factors including body composition, age, activity level, health status and the season. In general, you want to drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and so you produce colourless or slightly yellow urine a day. Here are the most common ways of calculating that amount:

  • ½ Body Weight in Ounces For a regularly active adult the general guideline is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces a day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you would plan to drink about 75 ounces or roughly 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Replacement approach In general the total water that you require is equal to the amount that you lose plus the amount that the body requires for ongoing metabolic functions. You expel between 2 to 4 cups of water each day simply by normal breathing. This amount increases in cold weather or with increased activity. You also lose about 1 cup of water each time you urinate. Other loses of water including sweating – including the skin and feet and bowel movements. Factors such as increased activity level, hot weather, diarrhea or vomiting and food choices impact the requirement for water.

Your need for water will also fluctuate based on your specific symptoms and diseases. If you're unsure about your fluid intake, check with your naturopathic doctor. They will help you determine the amount of water that's best for you.

  • Children Fluid requirements in children are based on body weight according to the Holliday-Segar method. Fluid requirements are better estimated by weight than age, to take into account the possibility of an underweight or overweight child. It is important to note fluid requirements are higher with increased losses (i.e. fever, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, etc.). Fluid restrictions may be required in some medical cases and those children should be carefully monitored by their physician. It is important, however, to maximize fluid intake within this restriction.[2]
Tip: Bored with plain water – add lemon or lime to the water. Be careful with flavoured water as the addition of “flavour” can modify the chemical structure and properties of water. They also typically add calories, which pure water does not.
  • When is it best to drink water?
  • Starting your day with a large glass of water before any other food or drink is a wonderful habit. Throughout the night toxins accumulate in the body and drinking water assists in flushing them out of the body.
  • Always drink water before, during and after any prolonged or excessive exercise or if you are outside in the heat – whether just relaxing and enjoying the sun or working.
  • Throughout the day plan to drink about 1 glass of water an hour. Stop ½ hour before meals and resume about 1 hour after meals.
  • The notion of drinking water while eating is NOT advised for most people. Water dilutes the hydrochloric acid in the stomach thus decreasing the stomachs ability to breakdown food. Some people choose to drink water before a meal or with a meal as it fills up the stomach and decreases appetite. Although this is a common practice for those looking at reducing their weight, it is not advised. Water is essential to health yet, it has no calories or nutrients. Using water in this way is a contributing factor to rebound weight gain and can disrupt health on many levels.
  • Factors that Influence Requirements
  • Food Choices. Substances such as alcohol, coffee and sugar are dehydrating and result in an increased need for water. Meals that are high in meat or that are dry may also require additional water for proper digestion and metabolism. Keep in mind that drinking water is best done away from eating as water can decrease the needed hydrochloric acid of the stomach and decrease the body’s ability to break down food.
  • Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 400 to 600 milliliters (about 1.5 to 2.5 cups) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon) requires more fluid intake, typically with added electrolytes. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise. Also, continue to replace fluids after you're finished exercising. Sports drinks are a common choice, but keep in mind that there are other alternatives that have fewer chemicals and food additives. Also, if you choose to use sports drinks, recognize that they were created for those involved in intense exercise, they are not meant to be consumed on a daily basis under regular activity, by young children or by those that have high blood pressure and other health concerns.
  • Environment Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Further, altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.
  • Illnesses or health conditions When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you need to drink more water. With vomiting and diarrhea it is often necessary to consume food or drink that contain salt in order to replace the loss of electrolytes. Also, you may need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake. Check out the section on Diseases Associated with Dehydration for more information.
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day.

References

  1. Swetlikoff Lorne (Aug 7th 2008) Water: Still your best health bet CBC News http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2008/08/07/f-weeklycheckup-swetlikoff-water.html#ixzz0o25yXE00
  2. http://faculty.olin.edu/~jcrisman/Service/KWTWebNews/Nutrition/fluid.htm
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