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15.02.2007 Health

Water Is Medicine

Human survival is dependent on water as the commodity has been ranked by experts as second only to oxygen. It forms the foundation of blood and lymph, maintains heart muscles and young looking skin, lubricates joints and organs and regulates body temperature.

That is the more reason why it is important for each person to drink enough water in order to get all the necessary benefits derived from the commodity.

Water is the common name applied to the liquid form of the hydrogen and oxygen compound H2O. Pure water is an odourless, tasteless, clear liquid which is considered one of nature's most important gifts to mankind. Fresh water refreshes and regenerates the body.

Lack of water causes dehydration, a serious health condition, which can kill. This condition, according to experts, kills faster than starvation (lack of food). Man can exist without food for two months or more, but can only survive for a few days without water.

In his book, “Your Body's Many Cries for Water”, Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj notes that chronic dehydration may cause certain problems for the body, including hypertension, asthma, allergies, and migraine.

That is the more reason why the habit of drinking enough water for the proper functioning of the body has been embodied in the new health policy being introduced by the Ministry of Health (MOH), which is dubbed “Regenerative Health and Nutrition Programme (RHNP)”, which is being supported by the African-Hebrew Development Agency (AHDA) in Dimona in Israel.

The average adult body is said to be made up of about 75 per cent of water, which means that two thirds of one's body weight is water. This figure alone tells us that water must feature heavily in how our bodies function. No one can function without it.

As one grows older, it becomes vital to pay attention to water consumption. Mature persons hold less cellular water, with a loss of 10 to 15 per cent of previous capacity by the age of 65. A contributing factor is the loss of thirst sensitivity.

Because water is so important for digestion, lack of fluid in one's body might make it more difficult for one to digest food.

The individual may suffer from cramps, bloating, gas, constipation, diveritculosis or even colon cancer. Drinking more water, combined with a high-fibre diet, can prevent these problems.

To combat the problem of loss of fluids, which causes dehydration, the answer is simple: Drink more water. A minimum of eight glasses of pure water each day is necessary to enhance your body's functioning.

Beyond helping digestion, getting enough fluids will give you fresh skin, clear eyes and shiny hair.

Signs of hunger may be a warning flag that your body needs a good drink. Try consuming several glasses of water before diving into a snack to see if that won't take care of your craving.

The water you drink should not be cold but must have room temperature. Because fruits are largely made up of water, they are perfect choices for a mid-afternoon treat.

It is important to note that it is not only adults who need water but also children and even the human embryo, which is said to consist of more than 80 per cent water.

As we work to maintain our water intake, let us not forget our little children since water is one of the most important nutrients for children.

Because children tend to be more active than most adults, they generally get dehydrated which can lead to reduction in mental and physical performance.

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, water regulates the body temperature and blood circulation, it carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells, and removes toxins and other wastes from the body.

Water in the body also cushions joints and protects tissues and organs, including the spinal cord, from shock and damage and contributes to elasticity in the skin, which can significantly slow the development of wrinkles.

Water plays a major role in the functioning of every major system. From brain function to proper digestion and elimination of waste and proper hydration, which can ensure efficient and regular body functions.

At the same time, one would be surprised at the myriad of ailments and symptoms experienced every day that are simply your body's way of telling you subtly and sometimes not so subtly to drink more water.

Actually, the human body possesses a variety of sophisticated indicators of dehydration and thirst. Unexplained backaches are often the body's way of asking for more water.

Swollen limbs are also a sign of low water intake since bloating and swelling is one way the body holds water when regular intake is low.

Since water contains no calories and can serve as an appetite suppressant and helps the body metabolise stored fat, it may possibly be one of the most significant factors in losing weight.

In his book, "The Snowbird Diet", Dr Donald Robertson says the body will not function properly without enough water and discusses the importance of drinking plenty of water for permanent weight loss:

"Drinking enough water is the best treatment for fluid retention; the overweight person needs more water than the thin one; water helps to maintain proper muscle tone; water can help relieve constipation; drinking water is essential to weight loss."

It is good to drink at least a glass of water immediately upon waking up each morning. It starts the day off right and can help set the stage for drinking water throughout the day.

The simple advice is cut down on the number of caffeinated and sweetened drinks you have a day and substitute a glass of water for a cup of coffee.

Keep water handy and make a habit of keeping some within reach throughout the day since you are much more likely to drink if it is easy to get without disrupting your routine.

Move the minerals and fruit flavoured drinks to the back of the fridge and keep water upfront. Start any exercise session with a glass of water and keep some handy throughout your workout.

Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water but keep a bottle of water with you as you commute, run errands or simply go about your day.

Do not be discouraged by the frequent trips to the washroom. When you first increase your water intake, you will find yourself going to the washroom much more frequently.

This is normal and should not cause you to stop drinking water because as you continue to give your body the water it needs, your body will adjust and you will go to the washroom less often.

A simple way to determine whether you need to drink more water is to check the colour of your urine when relieving yourself.

When the body is properly hydrated, your urine will range from clear pale to yellow but if your urine is dark yellow or orange, drink more water immediately!

By Lucy Adoma Yeboah