THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER

Most of the human body is comprised of this life-giving element, which performs many vital functions.

Why We Need It

Water is second only to air in importance for life. We can survive many days or even weeks without food, but we can only survive a few days without water. Unfortunately, the body’s need for water and its importance for health are often overlooked.

Approximately 60 to 75 percent of total body weight is water. While most people know that the blood, lymph, urine, sweat and tears are mostly water, they do not realize that the lungs are 90 percent water, the brain is 76 percent and even bones are 25 percent water. It also serves as a cushion and lubricant for our spine and other joints.
Most individuals lose between 10 and 16 cups of water per day. This loss is in sweat, urine, in the air we exhale and via direct evaporation from our skin. During exercise in a warm climate, as much as 8 cups of water can be lost in a single hour.

(You can visit the International Water Association’s Hydration Calculator to get an estimate on how much water you should have a day.)

Water’s Role In Massage
It’s important to keep your body’s fluid balance in check. You hear how vital it is to replenish what is lost during exercise, how the key to a successful workout is to keep well hydrated before, during and after exercising but did you also know that water is also important to drink post-massage?

Drinking water after a workout and/or a massage session is very important for creating balance in a person’s well-being,” says AMTA President Laurel J. Freeman. “The body uses muscle energy to move. The energy used from the muscles produces a byproduct called metabolic waste. There are many types of metabolic wastes, including lactic acid. Water helps the muscles by assisting the body’s ability to release and eliminate metabolic waste to restore balance,” she says.

Anna says that massage ‘flushes out’ these metabolic waste products that have been trapped in soft tissues. “This puts the waste products into circulation in the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems where they are filtered and eliminated from the body,” she says. “Drinking lots of water provides the fluid medium for the ‘flushing out’ process. And, of course, drinking lots of water leads to more trips to the bathroom where water and waste products in circulation are eliminated.”

When We Don’t Get Enough
Insufficient water intake results in reduced cell function, which greatly diminishes the body’s ability to heal damaged tissues from injury and maintain optimal health. F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., author of Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, has successfully treated many diagnosed diseases—peptic ulcers, colitis, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back and neck pain, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, high cholesterol, asthma, allergies and diabetes—with simply increased and regular intake of water.

According to Batmanghelidj, dry mouth is the last sign of inadequate cellular water. When the thirst signals produced by the body are ignored or are responded to with intake of beverages other than water (i.e., soda, coffee, tea or concentrated fruit juice), eventually the body stops providing the sensation of thirst. It often requires drinking water regularly throughout the day for as long as six to eight months for the normal thirst signals to return, and for people to reacquire a taste for water. It can take up to a year or longer to rehydrate your tissues. The sensation of thirst also diminishes as we age. Therefore, it is very important for the elderly to acquire a “habit” of drinking adequate water to avoid cellular dehydration and subsequent health problems.

Caffeine’s Negative Effects

The loss of body water through urination is greatly increased by the ingestion of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they a diuretic effect. Not only do we lose water, we also lose water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and other B complex vitamins. There also is increased excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride and zinc.

This loss can be made up by a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, since they can supply about 4 cups of water per day. But even with a diet high in fruits and vegetables, it is still necessary to drink an additional 6 to 8 cups of water per day to supply enough water to meet the body’s daily needs. For every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you drink, you need to add an additional glass of pure water.

High intakes of caffeine have been linked to anxiety, insomnia, elevated blood pressure, heart palpitations, headaches, fibrocystic breast disease, diarrhea, increased stomach acidity and ulcers, birth defects and miscarriages. Long-term use of caffeine will cause overworked and weakened adrenals, which may lead to depression and chronic fatigue.

Tolerance for caffeine varies greatly. Some individuals can tolerate as much as 500 milligrams of caffeine per day, equivalent to five or more cups of coffee. Other people cannot tolerate even one cup of green tea, which contains approximately 35 milligrams of caffeine. This intolerance often is due to decreased capacity of the liver to clear caffeine from the body. If any symptoms of excess caffeine consumption are present or pregnancy is planned, caffeine should be eliminated from the diet. Otherwise intake of caffeine should be limited to less than 100 milligrams per day, the equivalent of one cup of coffee. Besides coffee and tea, caffeine is present in soda, chocolate, aspirin and other drugs, such as Fiorinal, Vivarin, NoDoz and Dexatrim.

Drink Up
There have been reports of people suffering from water intoxication, where too much water is consumed and it results in coma, or even death.

Technically, it is possible to drink too much water. However, according to the American Dietetic Association, the bigger concern is not consuming enough fluids.

Most people need 8 to 12 cups of water daily—from drinking water, other beverages and water in solid foods. And since certain medications, high-fiber intake and age can further boost your need for water, it’s more important to worry about getting enough high-quality H2O, than worrying about getting too much.

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