The Importance of Water

Water

The Role of Water in Human Biology

After oxygen, water is perhaps the most important substance in our body.  More than 70% of our body is composed of water. With the exceptions of tooth enamel and bone, water makes up most of the volume of cells and body fluids (interstitial fluid, lymph, blood and intracellular fluids).

  • A solvent

Water is an excellent solvent. This is due to its polar covalent bonds, in which electrons are not shared equally between atoms; in a water molecule there are both positive and negative areas. Consider when a crystal of an ionic compound such as NaCl (sodium chloride – table salt) is placed in water; the negatively charged oxygen portion of the water molecule is attracted to the sodium ion (Na+) of the salt, and the positively charged hydrogen portion of water molecules is attracted to the chloride ions (Cl-) of the salt.  In this way water molecules take apart (dissolve) the salt molecules.

Since water can dissolve and suspend many different substances, it is an ideal medium for many metabolic reactions.  Water also dissolves waste products (acids etc) and flushes them out through the lymphatic system, expiration, the skin, liver and kidneys.

  • Participates in chemical reactions

For example, water is added to large nutrient molecules to break them down (hydrolysis). On the other hand, when 2 smaller molecules join to form one larger one (synthesis), water is often removed, as in the production of proteins etc.

  • Absorbs and releases heat slowly

Thus, the presence of such a large amount of water in the body lessens the effects of environmental temperature changes, thus maintaining homeostasis of body temperature.

  • Requires a large amount of heat to change from a liquid to a gas

When water evaporates from the skin (perspiration), it takes with it a large amount of heat, thus is an excellent cooling mechanism.

  • Serves as a lubricant

Water is a major part of mucus and other lubricating fluids in which protein is dissolved to make it more viscous (thicker) as in blood. Lubrication is especially important in the chest and abdomen where internal organs touch and slide over one another.  It is also needed at joints, and bursa, where bones, tendons and ligaments rub against eachother. Water in mucus moistens food in the gastrointestinal tract to ensure smooth passage.

Dehydration: The Importance of Adequate Daily Water Intake

Water is lost from our bodies continuously, through respiration, perspiration, urination, and defecation.  The very act of speaking causes water to be lost from the lungs.  The more one moves around, the more heavily one breathes, the more water is lost.  Intense exertion causes perspiration as well, more water loss.

Dehydration is a state in which excessive fluid has been lost from the body; it can be acute or chronic, sub-clinical or clinical to the point of "drying out".  Here in the sub-tropics even just living indoors we need between 2 and 3 litres of water a day; time spent outdoors requires much more, given that we perspire, and lose water merely by breathing.  We get water from fluid intake and from food which contains water such as fruit and vegies. 

What causes dehydration?

It is caused partly by poor fluid intake; we don't drink enough water, and we eat foods with low water content.  Often compounding the problem is our intake of diuretic substances such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, alcohol, and powerful prescription drugs which cause the body to excrete excessive amounts of fluid and electrloytes (minerals which help maintain fluid balance within the body).

Another important factor in proper hydration of blood is protein digestion.  Protein structures are important in helping to retain plasma concentrations (viscosity).  Poor digestion of proteins (eg poor levels of gastric acid) will further compromise hydration levels.

Most of the fluid balance in your body is maintained by what is called the sodium pump. This is where two minerals, sodium and potassium, are exchanged in and out of body cells, designed partly to ensure proper cellular metabolism. A lack of potassium and sodium means that the sodium pump cannot excrete metabolic acid wastes from cells.  We need minerals, including these and other alkaline minerals such as Mg, Ca etc for proper hydration.  Without an adequate supply, we can drink all the water but we will excrete it (pee it out) just as quickly.  That is why athletes, and those at risk of severe dehydration such as with persistent diarrhoea, drink mineral-rich drinks (electrolytes). We recommend Celtic Sea Salt as an excellent hydrating mineral supplementation, along with adequate water intake.

Dehydration Common

Today, most people suffer with some level of dehydration. We also notice that (most) elderly people especially suffer from it.  In fact, aging might prove to be defined as "the process of drying out".  Because it seems so simple, it is almost always completely overlooked as a factor in disease causation.  Instead, water balance problems are treated at the symptom level, with powerful drugs.

Some common examples are as follows.  An individual with fluid retention is almost always dehydrated.  You would think that when the ankles swell up with water, you could not possibly be dehydrated, however, the lack of water and improper balance of electrolytes transported by serum (water-based) can produce the initial changes that lead to fluid retention.  Instead of attempting to correct this water and electrolyte imbalance with safe natural means, we instead force even more water from the body using powerful diuretics.  This leads to more dehydration problems, exacerbating the condition.

Another example involves allergies or histamine reactions.  When you become dehydrated your body naturally begins to increase production of histamine.  A function of histamine is to retain water.  Histamine irritates the body’s tissues and immune system, and so you suffer the consequences of allergies, immune problems or worse.  What do many doctors do?  He gives you antihistamines.  After all, a prescription for water or some form of electrolyte-rich water would seem too ridiculously simple.  Yet that is exactly what your body is crying out for.

Most of the fluid balance in your body is maintained by what is called the sodium pump. This is where two minerals, sodium and potassium, are exchanged in and out of body cells, designed partly to ensure proper cellular metabolism.  If you are permanently hampered by powerful prescription drugs that force the body to drain or dry-up, you have little or no chance of ever achieving homeostasis in the fluid balance area, and you face a life-time of drugs to try to maintain symptom control.

As with all powerful drugs, you are prone to all their side effects.  In the case of diuretics, these can be dangerous or even life-threatening.  Diuretics cause unnatural fluid and electrolyte loss.  In the case of heart disease, you are losing the priceless trace minerals that are needed to heal and maintain the health of your heart and circulatory system.

Dehydration causes disease.

When you do not have enough water in your body, several things take place.  Your kidneys overwork, your digestion is hampered, your heart cannot function properly, your lungs and breathing mechanisms will be impaired, your joints will suffer, your entire lymphatic system (waste elimination) becomes sluggish and your immune system including the mucous membranes will diminish in effectiveness. And at the cellular level, normal cellular functioning becomes impaired, including the capacity to produce energy.

So when it comes to diseases of the heart and blood vessels, kidney or stomach, allergies, arthritis, skin diseases, asthma, and in fatigue states, hydration may be the single most important factor in the cause of the condition, your recovery from it and even your survival.

Digestion

Without enough water, your stomach cannot ‘churn’ food properly.  Without this churning action, food is not exposed to enough acids and enzymes to be digested.  The water for this is supplied from within, rather than by drinking with meals (although a small drink of water, or a glass of wine is OK)[1].

And the next stage of digestion in the small intestine will be hampered also. As food leaves your stomach, it is extremely acidic.  It must then be handled in the small intestine, which is a more alkaline environment.  Your pancreas gets involved here, secreting bicarbonate and alkaline enzymes (all mixed in water) into the small intestine to neutralise the acid food from the stomach.  Without adequate water this function is severely hampered.

In fact, when your body knows that an extremely acid food mass is about to pass into the small intestine without adequate buffering, a reflux is usually started.  This reflux will cause muscle spasm at the junction between the stomach and the small intestine in an effort to delay the passage of this acid food.  This muscle spasm is extremely painful and mimics the pain from ulcers. In chronic dehydration states, movement of waste product through the gut becomes sluggish, resulting in states of constipation which in turn cause a whole host of disease states, including the potential for auto-immune diseases, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diverticulitis, even cancer.

The entire scenario results in indigestion ... pain ... ulcers and more.  And what is done?  Drugs are dispensed to treat the symptoms, masking the underlying cause of the problem and ensuring usually permanent indigestion and disease.

A more rational approach would be to drink a glass of pure water a half hour before each meal.  In addition, digestive enzymes could be utilised until your system begins to normalise itself.

Lung Problems, Allergies and Asthma

As mentioned, all tissues involved in breathing are dependant on pure water; the trace minerals and elements are water-soluble.  Without adequate water, breathing will become laboured.  Your body will produce histamine in order to retain water.  This excess histamine will irritate the mucous membranes of your lungs and respiratory tree, and damage your immune system.  Tissues will become sensitised and allergies develop. As time goes on, the tissues and muscles that make up your breathing mechanism can go into spasm, resulting in severe breathing problems and asthma. Again, antihistamines and chemical dilators are employed with very little effort directed towards getting at the root cause of the problem.

How much better instead to use plenty of water and trace elements.  In fact, for those with severe breathing problems, at least 2 litres are needed daily.  And that means water, not soft drinks, tea, coffee or alcohol.  Over time, breathing problems will begin to disappear as rehydration and then tissue rejuvenation will occur.  With this type of therapy, the only side effect is having to urinate more frequently.

Heart and Blood Pressure Problems

These may be one of the most misunderstood problems facing medicine.  With cardiovascular problems, the body retains fluid.  However, earlier on, dehydration can weaken the heart.  And no matter what, increased water intake is necessary to regain proper heart and blood vessel function. For example, when an individual is at risk of thrombosis, stroke, angina or MI (heart attack), it is perceived by the doctor that "the blood is too thick" (and a blood-thinning drug is usually prescribed, such as aspirin or warfarin).  But why is the blood "too thick"?  Mostly because it is dehydrated.  All the system needs is to be properly hydrated...more water in the blood.  Simple?  It is, but there is more money in drugs.

Kidney Problems

Heart and kidney diseases go hand in hand.  When fluid balance is disturbed (as in heart disease) the kidneys overwork and as they overwork blood pressure usually rises.  And for the most part there is usually insufficient water in the body to help maintain proper kidney function. One sure sign of dehydration is concentrated urine.  If your urine is always concentrated, watch out!  That can mean it is full of concentrated inorganic minerals, which your body cannot use, there being too little water in the blood and lymph.  This can lead to kidney stones and other problems.  Concentrated urine is a strong signal to increase intake of pure water. 

Arthritis

Did you ever wonder why people go to hot springs for arthritis relief?  Well, part of it is the warm water, which increases circulation.  But another factor is transdermal absorption of trace elements (like sulphur) from the water.  It is these trace elements that are needed for proper joint function.  And it is plenty of water and proper nutrients (including trace elements found especially in fresh fruit and vegies) that are needed to heal arthritis joints. The medical answer is anti-inflammatory drugs - which can burn a nice hole in the stomach!  But plenty of water serves as a lubricant needed for proper joint maintenance and health.

Water Purifiers

In nature, water is purified, energised, mineralised and structured as it goes through its cycle of precipitation, percolation and evaporation.  Water moves freely and is infiltrated by sunlight as it flows in streams and rivers.  It picks up minerals from the soil, and is ionised as it whirls and flows over falls.  It has an alkali pH of about 8.  However this natural water is becoming a scarce commodity as the global environment is increasingly becoming polluted, as water loses its natural environment, and with mass storage and treatment plants.

Given the demands of metropolitan  living and the provision of an adequate water supply, authorities have used cheap and easy solutions to present the citizenry with “clean” water.  Chlorine is added, along with many other substances ([2]), including in many cases fluoride ([3]), as bactericidal agents.  Many of these water additives are dangerous to the consumers health. Chlorine for example is antibiotic in its action (which is why its added to water); but in the gastrointestinal tract it is irritant, and damages the bacterial ecology of the internal passageways, especially the large bowel. Becoming absorbed into the body, it can cause the formation of undesirable chemicals such as toluene, xylene and styrene, which substances kill red and white blood cells, destroy and damage skin cells, all of which predisposes to various cancers.  Chlorine is acidic in the body.  You may need to filter one’s shower and bath water, as well as drinking water.

Purification of water means excluding the nasty additives from the end product before drinking it.  Western technology provides a range of water purifiers, even to so thoroughly cleaning the water ( = pure water) that important minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium are also filtered out.  The effect of such treatment is to produce a water that is acidic, not pure. This is because such “pure” water is unstable, and sucks in CO2 from the atmosphere even through plastic containers. Water from reverse osmosis filters, and water that has been distilled, is thus not “pure” at all, but quite acidic. Fish cannot live in such water.  Would you want to drink acid?  Test the pH of your preferred water source.  Such water, in fact, will leach valuable minerals from our body.

Homeostasis: Acid and Alkaline

The internal environment of the neonate is alkaline, “alkaline by design”, as it were.  But we are “acidic by function”([4]).  Minute by minute the body is challenged with balancing and neutralising the enormous quantity of metabolic acids created through energy production, and the body’s many metabolic reactions.  Here we speak of such acids as lactic acid, arachidonic acid, phosphoric acid and uric acid to name a few, and are part of the class known as “free radicals”.
The lymphatic and the blood system are the primary systems of acid elimination.  These metabolic acid wastes are picked up in these fluids and (in a healthy system) eliminated or neutralised and recycled. The body also has buffering systems to try to maintain alkalinity.  Calcium (Ca2+), an alkaline mineral, is a big player in this process, and the body will pull calcium from the bones (the calcium reserve) to help maintain an alkaline internal environment. 

Japanese and Korean studies from the 1950s onwards into internal acidity, (macrobiotics) ([5]), held that the alkali reserves created from the metabolism of fruits and vegetables allow the body to buffer the excess acids produced from normal protein metabolism in the cells. 

Upward pressure on Acidity

However, it is now recognised that the pressures on the body to become acidic are overwhelming.  What causes acidity?

  • Dehydration,
  • eating foods high in sugar,
  • processed and refined foods,
  • our love affair with acid-forming grains, dairy foods and especially meats and soft-drinks,
  • an increasingly chemicalised and toxic environment,
  • stress,
  • poor circulation à coldness, stagnation (maybe lack of exercise)
  • some might add, toxic thoughts, unresolved anger, irritability…..

These all contribute to the slow process of increasing acidification over a lifetime.  Simply eating alkali-forming foods is not enough any more, and the body will succomb to premature aging as acid wastes build up and cause disease.

Take any system, acidification produces disease.  Excess acidity in the cardiovascular system causes poor circulation, atherosclerosis and clots leading to heart attack, stroke and thrombosis. In the nervous system, you have the whole range of neurological diseases from insomnia and anxiety to depression, neuroses and psychoses.  And you lose your memory, become senile and may develop Alzheimers.  In the structural system you get arthritis and osteoporosis.  In the respiratory system you get sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma and more.  The immune system becomes impaired, leaving one vulnerable to a range of immune system disorders including AIDS and cancer.  It is the same with every physiological system.

Disease, Premature aging, and Death : a Build up of Acid Wastes

One theory of aging (biological experiments and the history of long-lived individuals show that genetically we ought to live to about 140 years old) suggests that aging prematurely is simply a function of acid buildup throughout the body to the point where it pains us, makes us sick, and if not corrected kills us. This is the basis of macrobiotics.

“If the condition of our extracellular fluids, especially the blood, becomes acidic, our physical conditions will first manifest as tiredness, proneness to catching colds etc…When these fluids become more acidic, our condition then manifests pains and suffering such as headaches, chest pains, stomach aches etc.  According to Kkeiichi Morishita in his Hidden Truth of Cancer, if the blood develops a more acid condition, then our body inevitably dumps these excess acidic substances in some areas of the body so that the blood will be able to maintain an alkaline condition.

As this tendency continues, such areas increase in acidity and some cells die and turn into acids.  However, some cells may adapt to that environment; instead of dying, as normal cells do in an acid environment, some cells survive by becoming abnormal cells.  These abnormal cells are called malignant cells.  Malignant cells do not correspond with brain function or with our DNA memory code. Therefore, malignant cells grow indefinitely and without order.  This is cancer”([6] ).

If acid accumulation is the cause of physiological disease, aging and premature death, then reducing the accumulating acid is the reversal of disease, aging and premature death.

Hypothesis: Dehydration is the root cause of (most) disease

This ties in very nicely with the theory recently advanced by perhaps the worlds foremost expert on human hydration, Dr Batmanghelidj who presents what may well turn out to be the most significant scientific discovery of all time, a unifying theory of disease (and health).  He suggests that all disease is caused by a lack of proper hydration. In his popular book “Water: For Health, For Healing, For Life”([7]), he shows how every system and organ in the human body requires water for health, and lack of water will lead to dysfunctioning of these cells, tissues and systems.

He says for too long we have been looking at the solutes when we should have been looking at the solvent – which is water. Water does have a metabolic function, it is a nutrient, it is not merely a solvent. When one is dehydrated, all metabolic and physiologic activity becomes impaired, and the body will so signal. Histamine is the major signaller of dehydration,  and initiates many subtle and not so subtle responses. Pain will appear as a messenger, headaches, period pain, lower back ache, tight muscles, gastritis, constipation, sore joints, indeed, any discomfort such as breathing problems, asthma, allergies, any sense of unwellness, being sick, lowered immunity, lowered energy.  All messengers.  Instead, doctors diagnose some “disease”, and merely treat the symptoms, when the cause is lack of water.  Good for business, the USA spends nearly 8 trillion dollars a year in the “disease management” business.

He assert it is wrong to wait until one is thirsty before drinking water.  Studies show that even after 24 hours of water deprivation, the elderly still do not recognize they are thirsty. There are so many other signs (see pp 44 – 52 of his book).

See his “46 reasons why your body needs water every day” (pp 23-26).

Lack of hydration will inevitably lead to an increased rate at which metabolic and environmental acids, free radicals and toxins will build up in the tissues and organs.

Alkalinisation: to Reverse the Effects of Premature Aging

Water Ionisers

The idea of drinking water that has been ionised has been around in the orient for 2 decades now.  Ionised water is water that has a positive hydrogen ion (H+) stripped from the water molecule leaving a negatively charged hydroxyl (-OH¯) ion.  The H+ ion is acidic, and becomes waste, and runs out of the ioniser in a second outlet.  The hydroxyl ion is alkaline, for drinking. Modern ionisers produce waters with a pH of 10.0 (to drink) and 4.0 as waste (ideal for our skin, and for plants).

The Benefits of drinking Ionised Water

What are some of the benefits conferred by drinking alkaline water?  Some are listed here.

  • Ionised water has been first filtered to remove contaminants, but leaves the important minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium etc
  • When ionised water is drunk with a meal, it first causes the gastric pH to first go up (ie, less acidic, which is not what you want with gastric acid, you want gastric acid to remain at about pH 4).  But then a feedback mechanism is activated, which causes more hydrochloric acid to be produced, returning to homeostasis.  This actually produces more sodium and potassium bicarbonate ions (alkaline) which enter the bloodstream for utilisation throughout the body where and as they are needed.

Stomach acid does not neutralise alkaline water.

        H2O      +      CO2      +      NaCl      =         HCl      +      NaHCO3
       Water          carbon            sodium           hydrochloric    sodium
                          dioxide           chloride                acid          bicarbonate

  • Neutral water (pH 7.0) is water with equal numbers of H+ ions and –OH ions.

  • There are approximately 1x 10(25) water molecules in a 10 oz glass of water.  If that water has a pH of 10.0, there are approximately 1 x 10(21) hydroxyl ions, and 1 x 10(15) hydrogen ions. The number of hydrogen ions is about 1 millionth that of hydroxyl ions, which is negligible.  That’s a lot of antioxidant activity, to bind and neutralise metabolic acid ions and free radicals!!
  • It is important to drink about 6 glasses a day;  4 glasses to deal with the acids produced this day, the other 2 to detoxify old deposits of acid.
  • Blood functions within a quite narrow range of pH (7.35 – 7.45).  Blood functioning at the higher, more alkaline 7.45 has the capacity to carry 72% more oxygen!!   Drinking alkaline water facilitates this beneficial physiology.
  • NB  Water that is simply high in oxygen (eg oxygenated water) is not thereby more alkaline.  The Grerman approach (based on Otto Warburg’s work ([8]) fails to ask, why is oxygen lacking in a cell, to allow for the abnormal fermentation of cellular glucose in the first place?  Consequently, German anti-cancer treatments simply aim at increasing the amount of oxygen in the tissue.  But oxygen is deficient when there is excess acid buildup.

So here’s to water, the “water of life”.


[1]excess fluids with a meal will reduce the effectiveness of the digestive juices by diluting them.  Strong acid is needed in the stomach at meal times !

[2] There are literally hundreds of additives in a typical town water supply, including aluminium sulfate, sodium hydroxide, aluminium sulfate polymer 1190, polymer 1115 and 1160X.  Many are known to be toxic, and accumulate in human tissue for “Fifty reasons against putting fluoride in drinking water”.

[3]There is a lot of (overwhelming) evidence against putting fluoride in drinking water.  See the Fluoride Action Network at www.fluoridealert.org

[4] see Dr Ted Morter An Apple a Day – Is It Enough?

[5]see Herman Aihara Acid and Alkaline

[6] Herman Aihara Acid and Alkaline

[7]Available from Prosperity Circle, 26 Raintree Blvd., Little Mountain Qld 4551, see www.prosperitycircle.com

[8]Otto Warburg in 1931 received an Nobel Prize in medicine for showing that the primary cause of cancer was the replacement of oxygen in the respiratory chemistry of normal cells by the fermentation of glucose; the growth of cancer cells is a fermentation process, which can be initiated only in the relative absence of oxygen.  So cancer needs an anaerobic intracellular environment.

  2010 - 2015 © Adrian Jones Naturopath   Global Star Services