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Rick Mowles

Tired? Achy? Fat?
Try drinking.

Water makes up more than two thirds of the weight of the human body, and without it, we would die in a few days. The human body can go a considerable time without food, however, not very long without adequate water. The human brain is made up of 95% water, blood is 82% and lungs 90%. Even bone is 20% water. Even a slight drop in the body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration. Yet, very seldom does one hear about adequate intake of water from health care providers.   

  Drinking lots of fluids is not the same as drinking adequate amounts of water. In fact a lot of the fluids such as tea, alcohol, coffee, and high caloric energy drinks may be counterproductive to proper water balance in the body. In the human body, water plays an integral role. Water serves as a lubricant;  the basis for saliva;  the fluids that surround the joints; it regulates the body temperature, as the cooling and heating is performed through perspiration; water helps to alleviate constipation by moving food through the intestinal tract and is integral in the elimination of waste; and finally, it regulates metabolism. In summary, water transports oxygen to your cells, removes wastes and protects your joints and organs.

  Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj. M.D. described a condition “Unintentional Chronic Dehydration (UCD).” Some of the common symptoms of this condition are fatigue, cramps, muscle aches and stiffness as well as back pain. Metabolism in the body is necessary for life. A byproduct of metabolism is the production of toxins or waste products that must be eliminated from the body. A crude comparison can be made to taking out the garbage. Garbage is taken from the house every day and put into a garbage can. This garbage container must be emptied periodically or the waste will overflow from the can. 

  The human body is no different in that waste products must be eliminated or they will build up in the body. This elimination process is done primarily through the skin, the kidneys (urine) and colon (fecal matter). The medium which transports these toxins is water. Inadequate availability of water leads to a slowing down of those bodily processes necessary for toxin removal. As a result these toxins start to accumulate in the tissues. This build up leads to chronic fatigue, muscle pain and stiffness, and headaches. Something so trivial as chronic body odor can be associated with UCD. These toxins (poisons) are not supposed to stay around for long in the human body. The increase of these toxins puts an added burden on the liver and kidneys. Thus a vicious cycle is set up. Such things as chronic stiffness and pain in the neck and low back could be greatly resolved, if not eliminated, by just drinking more water.

  Quite a few products commonly ingested can further accelerate UCD. Probably the most common is  caffeine. This is found in coffee, colas, and teas, as well as a lot of so called “energy drinks” currently on the market. Caffeine increases the urinary excretion of water by its effects on the kidneys. On a hot summer day there is nothing more refreshing than a big tall glass of ice tea. However, it will lead to increased water elimination from the body,  as will alcohol. Many medications are also guilty. Notorious in this category are the diuretic class of drugs most commonly prescribed for hypertension. 

  These drugs force increased elimination of water through the kidneys. This will be greatly magnified in hot weather when the body is losing water from perspiration and exercise. An individual may go out in the summer on a hot day and work in the yard for a few hours then come inside to find themselves exhausted. After sitting in the chair for a few hours they go to get up and find walking difficult due to back pain and stiffness. This is just attributed to being more physically active, when in reality it is UCD.

  Society is plagued with an endemic of obesity. Millions of dollars are spent on diets, exercise equipment and supplements to burn fat and tone muscles. A lot of obese people have weight problems due to water retention and not actual fat accumulation. An interesting phenomena occurs in the human body. When inadequate water is consumed or lost, the body will retain all available water to prevent excessive and dangerous drops in fluid levels. As a result of this phenomena, individuals will diet and exercise only to find very little weight loss or very slow weight loss. A common ingredient in any weight loss program should be the ingestion of at least 7-8 glasses of ice water daily. The cold water will speed up metabolism which will accelerate the burning of fat thus a more dramatic and effective loss of those unwanted pounds.

The question arises on how much water is 
necessary to prevent UCD? One source states that “a good estimate is to take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces of water per day that you need to drink.” That sounds rather simple. However, if you exercise you should drink another eight ounce glass of water for every 20 minutes you are active. If you drink alcohol, you should drink at least an equal amount of water. When you are traveling on an airplane, it is good to drink eight ounces of water for every hour you are on board the plane. If you live in an arid climate, you should add another two servings per day. Based on this it can get quite confusing as to how much water is needed for adequate hydration. A general rule of thumb is to drink 7-8 eight ounce glasses of water per day minimum.

  This article has addressed a very serious problem present in society. Few physicians address this condition or minimize it. Many annoying conditions could be eliminated by just drinking more water. The conditions discussed here are by no means the many things that are affected by inadequate consumption of water. So an old adage that says, “An apple a day and keeps the doctor away” should be replaced with “drink 8 glasses of water per day to keep the doctor away.”

“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
-Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Biochemist 1937 Nobel Prize in Medicine 1893-1986.

Rick Mowles
Rick Mowles
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