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Water: Essence of Life

Any discussion about a healthy body must start with water. Our bodies are composed of about 70 percent water. Water consumption is essential for our survival, yet most of us give it little thought. Water is one of the two most important substances necessary for the survival of the human body. The other is oxygen.

Your body needs water for nearly every bodily process: from digestion, absorption, circulation and excretion to maintaining blood volume, healthy skin and temperature regulation. All of the body's cells live in water, so it must be replenished regularly. While your body can survive without food for up to five weeks it can survive for only five days without water. There are so many forms of water available to us today, it is necessary to know what the differences are between the various types of water that are available to us.

Deionized or Demineralized water

When the electric charge of a molecule of water has been neutralized by the addition or removal of electrons, the resulting water is deionized or demineralized. This process removes nitrates, calcium, magnesium and heavy metals, providing a clearer, more substantive supply of water.

Mineral water

Mineral Water is natural spring water, usually from Europe or Canada. To be considered mineral water, the water must contain minerals and must be free flowing from its source. It cannot be pumped or forced from the ground and must be bottled directly at the source. The minerals contained in the water will vary depending on the water source. It is important to be aware of the minerals that a particular brand of mineral water contains because if you are deficient in a particular mineral, you can drink water and take supplements that contain that particular mineral. However, if you drink water that contains minerals that you are not deficient in, you may be doing yourself more harm than good.

Natural Spring Water

Natural spring water is also important to understand the labels of the food we buy. Many people buy groceries based on the seemingly "healthy" buzzwords printed on the label. For instance, the word "natural" found on the label of spring water does not tell us anything about the origin of the water, which is really the information a consumer needs in order to make informed buying decisions. That buzzword, "natural," only tells us that the mineral content of the water has not been altered. The water may or may not have been filtered or otherwise treated. The word "spring" has no legal definition when it comes to water. Spring water is water that rises naturally to the earth's surface from underground reservoirs. The water is unprocessed. Flavor or carbonation may be added to enhance flavor. Actually, the water in a bottle of "natural spring water" may not have come from a spring at all. Most companies however, provide the source of their water on the label. Careful reading will help you deter- mine the source of the water you're purchasing.

Sparkling Water

Sparkling water Sparkling water is water that has been carbonated. Knowing where the carbonation comes from in sparkling water is not always easy.

"Naturally sparkling water" must get its carbonation from the same source that the water itself comes from. If water is labeled "carbonated natural water", that means that the carbonation came from a source other than the source of the water. Carbonated water may be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.

Steam-distilled Water Distillation involves the vaporizing of water by boiling it. The steam rises, leaving behind most of the bacteria, viruses, chemicals, minerals and pollutants. The steam is then placed in a condensing chamber, where it is cooled and condensed to become distilled water. When distilled water is consumed, it helps to detoxify the body of harmful substances by leaching out inorganic minerals rejected by the cells and tissues of the body.

One of the common questions I get from patients is, "can't I just drink liquids, and do I have to drink water by itself?" The answer to that question is a resounding "No!" There is no substitute for water. Beverages that simply contain water aren't good enough. Juices, coffee and other popular beverages may counter the positive effects of water. Beverages that contain caffeine stimulate your body, causing it to secrete extra fluid, dehydrating the tissue and robbing the body of essential vitamins and minerals. Beverages that contain sugar cause the pancreas to release insulin, which stimulates your body to store fat. Colas contain strong acids that can cause harm to the body.

Following is a list of common problems that are improved by adequate hydration.

Water and weight management

Drinking water may be the most important facet of weight management. Water contains no fat or calories. Research has shown that low water intake yields an increase in fat deposits. On the contrary, high water intake reduces fat deposits. This works in more than the obvious way, by decreasing hunger. Staying amply hydrated actually assists your body in its ability to metabolize fats.

One of the liver's primary functions is to metabolize fat. The kidney's primary function is to clean the blood of toxins. If the kidneys cannot completely cleanse the body of toxins, the liver kicks in to help it. If the liver is busy detoxifying the blood, then it cannot metabolize fat, there- fore more fat is stored. Generally speaking, drinking adequate amounts of water ensures that the kidneys will be able to adequately cleanse the blood of toxins. The liver can then be free to metabolize the fat we consume.

Water and water retention

The best way to beat bloating is to drink sufficient water. When you drink water, the kidneys excrete water. If you are dehydrated, the body hangs on to water. The body was created to operate in survival mode. If it perceives a lack of anything, it will take extreme measures to retain that substance, or one that resembles it. Thus, if you do not drink enough water, the body hangs on to any present water resulting in bloating and water retention.

Water and metabolism

Water regulates all body functions. Every chemical and enzymatic function in the body occurs in the presence of water. When you are adequately hydrated, your metabolism is much more efficient. Your survival and degree of wellness depends on these chemical reactions.

Water and digestion

Water aids in food digestion and nutrient absorption. It helps to move waste through the gut, and prevents constipation and hemorrhoid formation. We should each have a minimum of one bowel movement daily. Ideally, we should empty our distal colons each time we eat a meal. Inadequate or rare bowel function keeps an unreasonable amount of toxins in the body and therefore is a precursor for a number of medical problems.

Water and asthma

Water is essential for the control of asthma. Dehydration stimulates histamine release, which causes bronchospasm, or asthma attacks. Dehydration also results in thicker mucous secretions, which blocks airways, further exacerbating bronchospasm.

Water and the kidneys

One of the main ways that the body protects itself from ill- ness is by filtration of the blood. Mainly, the kidneys perform this job. The kidneys constantly filter, cleanse and purify our blood removing all of the toxic waste of metabolism. The kidneys are instrumental in removing all the breakdown products of harmful substances that get into our bodies one way or another. This vital purification sys- tem can only operate efficiently if the volume of water flowing through the system is sufficient to adequately carry away waste such as uric acid, lactic acid and urea (by-products of normal metabolism). When we do not consume enough water, these toxic substances cannot be removed, causing damage to the body's tissues.

If you want to know if you're drinking enough water, check the color of your urine. I recommend that you drink enough water so that your urine is as clear as possible. Whether it's three, six, or twelve 8-ounce glasses of water, you'll know that you're drinking enough water when your urine is clear.

Water and joints

Cartilage is the tissue between the bodies of small bones of the spine (vertebrae); it also covers the ends of the long bones where they articulate to form joints. This tissue retains a lot of water. Water is necessary to keep cartilage soft and supple, increasing its shock-absorbing properties and helping the joints operate at optimal levels.

Water and skin care

Water is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Consuming the right amount of water keeps skin hydrated, lessening dandruff, pimples and extreme dry skin.

How much water should we drink?

Because we are all uniquely created, the amount of water necessary to function properly differs from person to person. Most of us however, will be sufficiently hydrated if we drink about 1oz per 2 pounds of bodyweight or until your urine is clear. For a person who weighs 160lbs, that translates to approximately 10-eight ounce glasses daily.

A Final Word about Water

Even while you're sorting out what kind of water works best for you, remember, what's most important is that you drink it. Start somewhere, drinking as many glasses of water during the day as you can. You might even try taking a refillable bottle of water to work with you, setting a goal of how many bottles of water you'll drink during the day.


Dr. Jill Waggoner
Charlton Medical Group
3450 West Wheatland Road
Physician Offices II, Suite 340
Dallas, Texas  75237

T 972.217.3007

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PO Box 2118

Desoto, Tx 75213


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