Importance Of Water In The Body
Water makes up about 55-60% of the body weight of an average human being. The lungs are nearly 90% water, blood is 83% water, brain and lean muscles are 75% water, bone is 22% water, and body fat is 10% water.
Therefore, a person can survive for up to 4 weeks without food but no longer than 3 days without water. Water performs many vital functions in the body, it:
- moistens tissues such as those in the eyes, nose, and mouth,
- regulates body temperature,
- protects body organs and tissues,
- lubricates joints,
- helps prevent constipation,
- lessens the burden on liver and kidneys by flushing out waste products and toxins,
- transports nutrients and hormones around the body, and
- maintains the delicate balance of mineral concentrations within the cells.
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish your water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
How Much Water Do You Need Every Day?
A general rule of thumb is to take your body weight in pounds divided by 2 and you get the number of ounces required per day. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of fluid or slightly over nine 8-oz glasses.
Clean, filtered water is your best choice of fluid and it has 0 calories!
Other beverages that count as your daily fluid intake include regular and decaffeinated tea and coffee, broth, fruit and vegetable juices, milk, energy drinks, sweetened beverages and artificially-sweetened diet drinks. However, watch out for the amount of caffeine, sugar, artificial chemicals, and sodium that may be present in these beverages as over consumption of these ingredients may lead to long-term health problems.
Harmful Effects Of Dehydration
Common causes of dehydration include intense diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or excessive sweating. Exercise and not drinking enough water during hot weather may also cause dehydration.
Dehydration may lead to fatigue, migraines, constipation, muscle cramps, irregular blood pressure, kidney problems, and dry skin. There is even a risk of death if you become severely dehydrated.
Make sure you catch the early symptoms of dehydration:
Thirst. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day, especially during hot weather or when you exercise or drink alcohol. For every alcoholic drink, it is prudent to replenish with a glass of water.
Hunger. Most people mistake hunger as the indication to eat, whereas actually, you may be dehydrated. When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes to see if the hunger pangs disappear.
Dark yellow/orange urine. Urine is usually pale yellow to clear when you have sufficient water intake. Dark color or strong smell indicates you need to drink more water.
Dysfunctional “Enhanced” Waters
Pure, clean water is tasteless. However, many children and adults, spoiled by years of drinking sweetened beverages, are reluctant to drink the perfectly healthy water.
As a result, the food and beverage industry has created many “enhanced” waters sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners and fortified with everything from vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, to electrolytes, oxygen, and even fiber in every imaginable color and flavor to entice you to drink them!
But if you take a closer look at the ingredients of these “enhanced” waters, you will discover that most contain many unsavory ingredients that may wreck havoc on your metabolism, hormones, and other body functions.
The following are examples of some dysfunctional waters and their unsavory ingredients. They are all sweetened with sugar or some other artificial sweeteners.
Aquafina (Berry Burst) – contains potassium benzoate (preservative), aspartame (artificial sweetener), acesulfame potassium (artificial sweetener), calcium disodium EDTA (additive)
Bot (Berry) – contains pure cane sugar (9g/container)
Dasani Plus (Pomegranate Blackberry) – contains maltodextrin (presence of gluten), potassium sorbate (preservative), potassium benzoate and EDTA, acesulfame potassium, sucralose (artificial sweetener)
Fruit20 essentials (Cranberry Raspberry) – contains maltodextrin, sucralose, sodium hexametaphosphate (additive), sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate
MiO (Berry Pomegranate) – contains propylene glycol (solvent), sucralose, acesulfame potassium, polysorbate 60 (emulsifier), red 40 (dye), blue 1 (dye), potassium sorbate
Propel Fitness Water (Kiwi-Strawberry) – contains sucrose syrup (4g/container), sucralose, calcium disodium EDTA, acesulfame potassium
Snapple Antioxidant Water (Strawberry Acai) – contains sugar (33g/container) and caffeine (60mg)
SoBe LifeWater – various flavors sweetened with sugar (24g/container)
VitaminWater (Tropical Citrus) – contains crystalline fructose (sugar 33g/container)
Voosh (Acai Blueberry Pomegranate) – contains crystalline fructose (sugar 33g/container)
On the other hand, there are two relatively healthier flavored waters with minimal junk ingredients:
Glaceau Smart Water – vapor distilled water and electrolytes
MetroMint – purified water and mint
Why Carbonated Waters Are Not Good For You
The normal pH (acid-alkaline) range in the stomach is between 1.5 to 3.5, meaning it is highly acidic. This acidity creates an ideal environment for digestive enzymes to break down food.
When you drink water with added carbonation, it neutralizes the stomach acid momentarily. Carbon dioxide combines with water to form carbonic acid, which rapidly dissociates to form hydrogen ion and bicarbonate. The bicarbonate, being alkaline, increases the pH in the stomach, making it less acidic.
Therefore, regular use of carbonated water will not only disrupt your buffering system which regulates the pH in the stomach, but also exhaust your stomach’s parietal cells in producing stomach acid. This can eventually lead to digestive problems and the growth of harmful bacteria (which prefers a more alkaline environment) in the stomach.
This also applies to other carbonated drinks such as sodas. What’s worse is that sodas contain phosphoric acid, which causes your body to leach calcium and contributes to osteoporosis.
Do Not Drink Alkaline Water
For the same reason mentioned above, alkaline or ionized water is not recommended for regular use. Contrary to some claims, alkaline water is not a healthy drink, in particular if the pH of the water is strongly alkaline. Long-term use of this type of water will interfere with the stomach’s buffering system.
Tap, Filtered, Reverse Osmosis, Distilled, Or Bottled Water?
Tap water is not ideal for drinking. Depending on where you live, tap water may contain parasites, chlorine, fluoride, dioxins and other contaminants. If you have old pipes in the house, it may even have have traces of lead.
The reality: there is no perfect source of water, but the best is tap water that has been treated with a compressed carbon filter found in counter-top or under-counter systems. This type of filter removes heavy metals, chlorine, bacteria, viruses, and other impurities but leaves valuable mineral ions, such as calcium, magnesium, iodine, silicon, and selenium in the water. (Please note that pitcher-type filters generally is the least effective and are certified to remove only copper, mercury, cadmium, chlorine, and zinc.)
Unfortunately, carbon filters are less effective in removing fluoride. Why is fluoride added to our water supply? There is now overwhelming evidence that fluoride does not prevent tooth decay but instead, may lead to dental fluorisis (staining and pitting of teeth), weakened bones, low thyroid, and a host of other illnesses. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended mothers not to use fluoridated water when using formula to feed their baby.
Reverse osmosis removes about 80% of the fluoride and distillation 55-60%, but they also create acidic and demineralized water. One way to remedy this is to reintroduce minerals into the water by stirring in some Himalayan or sea salt. Bear in mind that reverse osmosis is expensive and it wastes a lot of water. Depending on the brand, it takes anywhere from 2-10 gallons of water to produce one gallon of drinking water.
Bottled water is no guarantee of purity either and it is less regulated than tap water. Of course, the best comes from a natural spring. If you choose to drink bottled water, you should know:
- where the water comes from,
- whether it is purified, and if so, how? and
- whether the water is tested for any contaminants.
Please be aware that about 40% of bottled water in the market is just regular tap water, which may or may not have been treated. Aquafina and Dasani are two examples of such water.
What’s more, you should never leave plastic-bottled water in a hot car as the higher temperature can result in chemicals leaching into the water.
Plastic bottles have become an enormous environmental problem for humanity. As good as it feels to haul your plastic bottles to a recycler, do you realize that 86% of plastic bottles never get recycled, leaving a massive number of them sitting in landfills and floating like massive plastic islands in our oceans? According to the Sierra Club, the U.S. alone uses 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles we toss into landfills every year, releasing many toxic by-products into the environment.
Best Temperature For Drinking Water
If you drink iced water, your stomach will have to hold it until it reaches body temperature before releasing it into the small intestine for use. Drinking iced water alone is not that bad unless you are already dehydrated as the iced water cannot be put to use immediately.
However, drinking iced water with food may compromise your digestion as the extra time the water stays in the stomach results in the dilution of your stomach acid and digestive enzymes. If you find that this is your problem, don’t drink so much water, particularly iced water with your meals. For those who are deficient in stomach acid, drink 15-30 minutes before eating. Nevertheless, remember to chew your food properly before swallowing instead of swallowing half-chewed food with a gulp of water.
The best is to drink warm (second best is room temperature), clean, filtered water. It is the most natural and economical way to replenish your body’s fluid requirements.
If you have a need to flavor your water, add a few fresh mint leaves, fresh ginger, sliced cucumber, strawberries, apple, or lemon/orange peel into your water. There is no reason to spend your money on all the fancy waters that may not even be good for your health.