Over the centuries, explorers hoped to find the fountain of youth. Of course, they did not find what they expected to find. However, perhaps we have had the fountain of youth with us throughout history, but have not appreciated it for what it is. Perhaps the fountain of youth is simply water itself!
We all know or have some idea that we need to drink fluids from time to time, but few people know or understand the damage the body sustains when a person does not drink enough water.
The cells of the body are about 75 percent water; the brain is about 85 percent water, while the bones contain less water. Many consider that water is just filler material and that as long as they drink a little, things will function just fine. However, nothing could be further from the truth. When insufficient water is taken in, the body suffers in numerous ways, and it alerts us to its deficiency through a multitude of pains and diseases.
When a person does not drink sufficient water, there is a shortage of water in the body for its various functions. This is known as dehydration. When this happens, the body embarks on a strict water-rationing program. It starts to produce more histamine, which regulates water distribution to the various organs and parts of the body. Those areas of the body not considered as essential for survival—such as bones, joints, and skin—receive little water, whereas other areas that are considered vital—such as the brain—still get a fair amount, albeit less than necessary for full and proper function.
Many people think that any fluid will satisfy their need for water. This is not true. Caffeine-containing beverages—coffee, tea, colas, and other soda drinks—and alcoholic beverages—such as wine and beer—are all diuretics. These substances cause more water to be eliminated than is taken in. If a person drinks a cup of coffee, for example, one and a half cups of water will be excreted from the body. It is the same with the other caffeine and alcohol-containing beverages. Thus, people can drink themselves into dehydration, while thinking that they have fulfilled their need for water. Milk and juice should be considered foods and are not a satisfactory replacement for water. Only water will truly satisfy the body’s need for water.
At minimum, a person needs eight cups of water a day. However, the following is a more precise formula for determining your individual water needs: Take your weight in pounds; divide that number by two, and this is the amount of water in ounces that you need every day. To find out how many cups that is, divide the amount in ounces by eight, and you will get the number of cups that you need. If you are exercising, sweating, living in a hot climate, overweight, experiencing pain, sick or diseased, or under stress of any kind, you may need to drink more water than that. A good indicator for determining if you are drinking enough water is if your urine is clear or if it is very light in color. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are. When you drink the amount of water that you need, you should not go on a salt-free or salt-restricted diet. All that water will flush any extra salt out of your body. Also, you should drink your water between meals and not with your meals. “The more liquid there is taken into the stomach with the meals, the more difficult it is for the food to digest; for the liquid must first be absorbed.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 51.
The following are a few of the health problems in which dehydration is a major cause:
High Blood Pressure
When there is not enough water in the body, the volume of blood decreases. To compensate for the reduced amount of blood, the blood vessels have to reduce their interior size; otherwise there would not be enough blood to fill all of the available area in the circulatory system and gas pockets would form. Thus, the muscles that line the arteries squeeze down so that the passageway for the blood is smaller. This tension in the arteries is then detected as hypertension. Also, because there is not enough water to go around, this extra pressure in the blood vessels is needed in order to force water into certain vitally important cells so that they do not get too dehydrated. Lastly, the body starts to retain salt in an effort to keep more water in the body, for water follows salt. The solution for this is to drink sufficient water and to take a little salt, preferably sea salt.
When the body is dehydrated, there is insufficient mucus lining the interior of the stomach. This mucus layer must be of a sufficient quantity to protect the stomach from the acid that digests the food. When stomach acid reaches the tissues under the mucus, pain is the result.
Water is also necessary to produce the digestive enzymes and alkaline solution from the pancreas. When there is insufficient water to produce adequate quantities of this solution, the stomach is not able to pass the food into the intestines in a timely manner, and digestion is greatly slowed. This can also result in putting pressure at the top of the stomach and causing heartburn. Constipation will result when there is a shortage of water, and the body is trying to recapture water from the waste in the colon. The solution for all of these problems is to drink one to two cups of water 30 minutes before each meal, and then wait at least one hour after eating before drinking more water.
Many times fatigue is merely due to dehydration. There are little mechanisms in cell walls that operate like the hydroelectric generators in a dam producing electricity. Much energy can be produced from these “cellular hydroelectric pumps.” However, in order for this to happen, there must be sufficient “free” water in the body. In other words, this operation requires water that is not engaged in any other activity. But in dehydration, all of the water is being put to use in other vital areas, and the person is not able to benefit from this source of energy. This source of energy is as important as food energy. To fight fatigue, drink your individual requirement of water.
Many other health problems are also caused or made worse by not drinking enough water. These include asthma, allergies, arthritis, edema, obesity, headaches, migraines, depression, pain of all kinds, autoimmune diseases, and more. Hopefully, you will decide to start drinking more water, and eliminate the diuretic beverages from your lifestyle. Your health will greatly improve just by doing this.
The source of your water should be clean and uncontaminated. In today’s environment, it makes sense to use bottled water or filtered water. Filtration removes the chlorine from the water and enhances the water’s taste, helping you to enjoy it and to drink the amount you should.
Diane Herbert is a naturopath and lifestyle consultant. She received training from the NAD Lifestyle Consultant program, Thomas Edison State College, Clayton College of Natural Healing, and Bastyr University. Diane teaches health classes at the Gilead Institute located in Norcross, Georgia, gives health presentations, and contributes to the Institute’s literature and health flyer series. If you would like more information on water or other health topics, you may contact her at: The Gilead Institute of America, 6000 Live Oak Parkway, Suite 114, Norcross, Georgia 30093; telephone: (770) 270-1087; Website: www.gileadinstitute.org.