Bread and water: issues on the "basics" of our nutrition. Part II: Water!

Dehydration happens not only in the desert. More common than imagined…..

Why do we need to drink (more) water? Average recommended amount would be 2.5 litre (or 12 glasses)/day. Why so “much water”?

- Cancer? Research states that staying hydrated (drinking the right amount of water) can reduce risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50%, and possibly reduce breast cancer risk as well. Why? Read further….

- Moods? dehydration can affect your mood and make you grumpy and confused!

- Toxins? Water flushes them out

- Muscle weakness or pain? You can reach a better performance by drinking water

- Arthritis, joint pain? Cartilage, and connective tissue in general, are majorly made of water (60-70%)

- Wrinkles? Drench your skin (also made of connective tissue) with plenty of water

We are mostly made of water. A body of a newborn child is composed of 80 % liquid, amount that diminishes to 70 % in an adult and further less as we age. This water loss contributes to the slowing down of metabolism and the loss of volume of all tissues that is characteristic of natural aging.

We need more water and more hydration than before in human evolution (and food evolution), because: 1. the food we eat (processed, restaurant food, fast food etc.) is very rich in salt; 2. heated (or overheated) and artificially ventilated and conditioned homes, offices, and stores, deprive us of body water; 3. air and water pollution also contribute to our increased need for water.

Elderly people often do not drink enough, perhaps because they do not always clearly perceive the sensation of thirst, which we loose with time, since the hypothalamus (that part of the brain that controls our autonomic –or “automatic” - functions) starts losing its ‘shine’ and functionality when we age.

However, it is not only an issue with the aged people. In fact a large number of us does not realize they are chronically dehydrated. It is even more difficult to accept that lack of water is the cause of many of our health problems. Most people don't think they need to worry about dehydration, something that happens to travellers in the desert! But chronic dehydration is widespread and affects everyone who is not drinking enough water.

I meet many people who do not drink enough water. They claim they drink a lot…of fluids: coffee, tea, juices and all sorts of sugary drinks, and alcohol. But all these are diuretics, they make you lose more liquids (water) than what you drink! By drinking them you actually de-hydrate yourself.

Chronic dehydration is enough to cause numerous functional disorders that are the door to more serious issues. Fatigue, energy depletion, depression, skin problems, rheumatism, tight tendons, high and low blood pressure, high cholesterol, gastric disorders, and premature aging: these problems – among many others – can be effectively prevented or treated by correct hydration. Water is number 1 medicine (preventative and curing!)– and the one with 0 side effects!

Every day we expel 2.5 litres of water from our bodies as urine, sweat, water vapour from the lungs, and the liquid contained in stools. Thus, the intake should be on average 2.5 litres to keep the body water budget in balance. If we drink less water than this amount, this balance goes into the red zone, and the process of dehydration begins.

When the body does not receive the needed water, it starts pulling it out from one of its internal sources: the extracellular fluid, the water in the spaces around the cells. Unfortunately, this degrades the cell functioning. For examples, the exchanges between the blood and the cells (nutrition from the blood to the cells and waste from the cells to the blood) cannot take place as they should and this compromises functioning and leads to slowing of the enzymes activity and autointoxication (accumulation of toxins). If the dehydration gets worse, the production of energy, hormones, new tissue etc. decreases.

Water is also taken from the internal environment of the cells (intracellular fluid). However, when too much liquid is removed from inside the cells, the body tries to stop this loss by producing more cholesterol, which creates an impermeable layer for the cellular membrane for preventing too great a loss of its fluid. This overproduction of cholesterol also creates an increase of blood cholesterol. We do not need more of this!

I was shocked to find out that “a loss of liquid equivalent to 1 percent of total body weight (= 700 ml or 3 glasses of water) is enough to diminish the body's working capacity by 10 %. At a 2 % loss (6 glasses of water less than required), this capacity becomes 20 % less efficient”.

An amount equivalent to 700 ml is easily lost by sweat during 1 hour exercise at an ambient temperature of 18⁰. With warmer conditions, for example a summery 27⁰, the water loss for 1 hour exercise gets up to 3 litres or 4 % of total body weight causing a 40% percent loss in metabolic functionality.

Another explanation of a less healthy condition of the body with less water is that when the body does not have the liquids it needs, physiological elimination continues, but with a reduced quantity of water: urine is thicker (=increased risk of urinary tract infections), sweat more concentrated, stools harder (=constipation) and toxins are eliminated at a reduced rate. Waste products accumulate and congest the organs giving start to the beginning of many illnesses.

Lack of water not only leads to constipation but it is also a factor in other digestive system problems: gas, bloating, pain, nausea, loss of appetite and also gastritis and stomach ulcers. In a condition of chronic dehydration (not drinking enough water), the normal daily secretions of 7 litres of digestive juices become less abundant, and the digestive process cannot perform properly. Gastritis and ulcers would appear when the normal protective barrier of mucus (made by 98 % of water) produced to protect the internal walls of stomach and intestine is diminished if we do not give our body the water to produce it.

One quite common consequence of dehydration is the urinary infections (especially frequent in people who do not drink enough water). Drinking high amounts of waters and the appropriate herbal teas (like gravel root, nettle, bearberry, cleavers among others) to treat this condition is absolutely recommended.

So….drink you 10-12 glasses of water, carry a water bottle every time you go out, keep a water jug in your office and DRINK!


The Water Prescription: For Health, Vitality, and Rejuvenation, 2006, Christopher Vasey, Jon E. Graham

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