Body and Soul
(page 4 of 8)
BODIES OF WATER
The importance of water to human health
We begin our lives submerged. Floating in a sea of amniotic fluid comprised largely of water, we enter the world as liquid beings, made of nearly 85 percent water. By the time we’re a year old, we lose 20 percent of that total. Water is the most important resource on the planet, and without it there would be no life.
A simple molecule made of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, water’s role in the health of our bodies cannot be underestimated. In addition to transporting nutrients and oxygen to every cell, it acts as a natural thermostat, regulating cell and core body temperatures. Water is the body’s Jiffy Lube, ensuring that our joints, muscles and organs are well oiled and running at maximum efficiency. And that’s just the beginning. Slather as much lotion as you like on dry skin, but water moisturizes you from the inside out. It’s also the least expensive weight loss option around. Feel hungry? Drink a glass of water and find yourself sated and hydrated. Metabolic function and digestion improve with increased water intake, and researchers have found that men and women who drank five or more glasses of water a day were less likely to die from heart attack. Water is a natural laxative, keeping you regular by adding fluid to the colon. Your mother was right when she told you to drink plenty of fluids when you were sick. Water flushes bacteria out of your system and eliminates toxins that build up in the body, enabling your kidneys to function optimally, while preventing kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
We can survive without food for several weeks, but a few waterless days can mean the difference between life and death. At just one percent below the body’s normal water balance, we begin to feel thirsty; dizziness occurs if we fall below five percent and a loss of 12 percent can be deadly. In the Wood River Valley’s high desert climate where air pressure and humidity are lower, moisture evaporates from the skin surface and lungs more quickly. At 6,000 feet, we exhale and perspire twice as much as we do at sea level. Throughout the day, we lose two to three quarts of water through sweat, urine and breathing.
About 40 percent of our water intake is through the food we eat (fruits and vegetables are high in water content); however, drinking water is key in avoiding dehydration. Eight to ten glasses of water a day is recommended, but living at higher elevations requires more—particularly for competitive athletes. Camille Wood, who owns and operates The Water Store out of her home in Ketchum, is a local distributer for Kangen Filtration Systems. Wood believes most people walk around not knowing they’re thirsty. “I think we’re meant to be more hydrated than we are. At minimum, we should be drinking half of our body weight in ounces. Ideally, we should drink our body weight in ounces of water every day.” -Jody Orr