Why Not Water: An In Depth Look at an Underappreciated Miracle Cure
Water is the life blood of our existence.
Not only is the average human body composed of somewhere between 50% and 80% water, but water consumption is essential for life. Estimates vary, but most experts would expect the average person to perish from dehydration after 3 – 10 days without water, depending on the circumstances.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that water has incredible restorative and curative powers when it comes to the human body. After all, what’s the first thing hospital medical staff does when admitting a patient? They hook up an intravenous saline solution, because medical professionals realize that dehydration poses one of the biggest risks to people’s health.
While science likely has not uncovered all of the health benefits of H20, ample evidence suggests that water consumption contributes to the wellbeing of almost all parts of our bodies. The following examples reflect the widely accepted principal that adequate hydration leads to good health and poor hydration can cause various ailments, illnesses and even serious diseases.
- Water Contributes to Cardiovascular Health: Evidence suggests that adequate hydration can aid in prevention of clogged arteries and can help reduce hypertension, because the body’s vascular system reacts when the blood stream loses water volume. Furthermore, drinking plenty of liquids can contribute to weight loss in a variety of ways, including the stimulation of the body’s metabolism, and it’s no secret that obesity is one of the most prominent threats to good cardiovascular health. In addition, blood, which is composed mostly of water, is responsible for transporting nutrients to the body’s cells.
- Water Helps Eliminate Waste: The digestive, urinary and excretory systems also rely on water consumption. After the circulatory system does its job by providing nutrients to the body’s cells, numerous other organs and body functions help eliminate waste. Water supports this process and, without it, our bodies could not remove harmful toxins that could wreak havoc if left unchecked.
- Muscles Need Water to Function Properly: Drinking water leads to properly oxygenated blood, which our muscles rely on to avoid the formation of that lactic acid that can cause muscle cramps. In addition, dehydration can cause muscle weakness, muscle tension, muscle spasms and even a debilitating breakdown of muscle tissue.
- Water Promotes Muscle and Joint Health: Some studies suggest that many backaches are caused by dehydration. Because water lubricates the disks in our backs, a lack of fluid can cause the body’s natural ability to cushion movement in the back to support the rest of your body. In addition, some experts believe that dehydration can rob our bones of calcium as we age, thus contributing to a variety of skeletal problems, including osteoporosis. Furthermore, good hydration can help fight the effects of arthritis, as water is necessary to lubricate the joints between bones.
- The Body’s Neurological Functions Rely on Water: The average human brain is composed of approximately 85% water, and our brains tend to be extremely sensitive to water deprivation. Therefore, one common cause of headaches in adults and children is dehydration. On a more serious note, lack of proper hydration can damage blood vessels in the brain and can disrupt the balance in the brain’s neurotransmitter composition. In some cases, these conditions can lead to serious medical problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome and attention deficit disorder.
- Water Helps Us Breathe Easy: The lungs and other parts of the respiratory system rely on water consumption to provide the moisture mucous membranes need to protect the body against harmful toxins contained in the air we inhale.
- Water’s Effect on Body Temperature and Skin Health: Water is vital for regulating body temperature. For example, when we get hot, we perspire, thus cooling the body down. Without adequate water, the body can overheat, which can lead to a litany of major health problems. In addition, moisture promotes skin elasticity and can aid in replenishing skin tissue. Dehydration can also lead to dry, cracked skin and wrinkles.
While experts continue to debate exactly how much water we should consume, there is no dispute that water intake not only promotes good health and wards off illness, but it is also vital for life. So the next time you’re browsing the aisles at the local health food store to find the right supplement or vitamin, consider whether adjusting your water intake could help. Feeling sluggish? Consider grabbing a glass of water. Having trouble concentrating? Take a sip of water. While scientific evidence does not support all claims about the curative powers of water, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.
Finally, not only is clean, drinkable water abundantly available in most areas of the United States, it is also typically free. Therefore, making water a regular part of your diet and health regimen is a good economic decision.
[Brett Warren is a biochemical engineer from Boston, Massachusetts who develops sports supplements for Force Factor. He has done extensive research on nutrition and is an expert on nutraceutical science. He also has a passion for fitness and health. Brett's work at Force Factor is supplemented by an active family life with plenty of gym time and outdoor recreation.]
Image: Greg Riegler Photography at Flickr