If I were to offer you an all-natural supplement that helps to prevent undesirable clotting, improves your antibody function and mental processing, increases endurance, reduces skin wrinkling, and perks up every cell in your body, how much would you be willing to pay for it? “Well,” you might say, “before I spend money, what is it?” The answer may surprise you: it’s water!
Water is the most abundant molecule on earth and in the body. Without this excellent solvent and suspending medium, the blood could not transport nutrients to the cells, remove byproducts of cellular waste, or even transport your hormones. That would mess up your day, wouldn’t it?
On a cellular level, good hydration helps oxygen penetrate the cell membrane. Without oxygen, your energy production would prove quite ineffective for all the complicated life processes occurring in your body. Water helps all the enzymes in your body to work effectively, including enzymes that assist in boosting energy production. Scientific studies show that sufficient water intake also increases athletic endurance. Because water can combine with viscous molecules, it helps to lubricate your joints and your digestive tract, absorbs heat, and helps to regulate body temperature.1
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Adequate water drinking helps to thin your blood and thus protect you from developing undesirable clots in your veins, coronary arteries, and blood vessels in the brain. Researchers at Loma Linda University studied 20,297 individuals and found that men who drank five or more glasses of water a day reduced their risk of fatal heart attacks by 54% when compared to those who drank two or fewer glasses per day. Women who drank at least five glasses of water daily decreased their risk of fatal heart attacks by 41%. These results remained unchanged after adjusting for age, smoking, hypertension, body mass index, education, and (in women) hormone replacement therapy.2 Why is this?Dehydration elevates blood and plasma viscosity, hematocrit,(a) and fibrinogen,(b) all of which are major independent risk factors promoting ischemic heart disease, a condition in which there is insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle.
Protects from Chronic Disease
Scientific studies show that even mild dehydration, from short periods of fluid restriction, decreases alertness and ability to concentrate and impairs performance. German researchers have found that it contributes to and exacerbates many chronic diseases. For example, dehydration increases the risk of developing urinary tract infections, kidney stones, constipation, asthma during exercise, hypertension, deep vein thrombosis, stroke, chronic lung disorders, and diabetic ketoacidosis. Dehydration is also associated with an increased risk for falling, dental disease, and impaired cognitive functioning and is an independent predictor of mortality in the elderly.3
Scientists at Stanford University note that dehydration with its ensuing insufficient water in the blood can trigger activation of the sympathetic nerves.4 Abnormal sympathetic hyperactivity plays an essential role in hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, sleep deprivation, fibromyalgia, inflammation, and cancer.
Aids the Immune System
Good hydration also increases IgA, a class of antibodies that guards the respiratory mucosa and the intestines and improves lymph flow. Under conditions such as fatigue, stress, infection, lack of physical activity, and dehydration, lymph vessels can become clogged with protein deposits and significantly reduce the flow of lymph even through lymph nodes, which help to filter the lymph and remove bacteria and toxins.
Water can also bolster the immune system in the form of hydrotherapy, the use of water in any of its three forms, liquid, steam, or ice. Taking a hot bath for thirty to forty minutes with a cold compress to the head and over the heart (and raising the body temperature) increases the mobility and efficiency of neutrophils to capture and destroy bacteria.(c)
Dehydration occurs when water loss exceeds water intake. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, high blood sugar, exposure to prolonged, intense heat, breathing dry air, and extreme exercise all promote dehydration. Airplane air dehydrates the body more quickly than outside air. Individuals with impaired mobility, who live alone, or who have busy schedules may easily become dehydrated. The very young and elderly can quickly die from dehydration. Caffeine and alcohol also promote water loss by increasing urinary output.
To keep hydrated, follow these guidelines:
- Drink before getting thirsty.
- Drink a glass or two of water every morning upon rising.
- Drink twice as much as it takes to quench your thirst.
- Buy a water bottle to carry with you.
- Flavor water with a slice of lemon.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
- As an adult, drink eight glasses of water or non-caffeinated teas to keep hydrated (unless a physician has placed you on fluid restriction).
- Drink more water in proportion to an increase in physical activity. Your water requirements increase when you sweat.
a) The proportion of the blood that consists of packed red blood cells. The hematocrit is expressed as a percentage by volume. The red blood cells are packed by centrifugation.
b) Fibrinogen is a protein that plays a key role in blood clotting.
c) This hydrotherapy treatment could be done for otherwise healthy individuals fighting a virus. It should not be attempted alone or by one not trained in hydrotherapy. After forty minutes in hot water, the temperature of the water should be gradually lowered until it is lukewarm.Individuals with severe anemia, heart or lung problems, or an autoimmune disease should not try this particular hydrotherapy treatment.
Grandjean, A. and Campell, S., Hydration: Fluids for Life. ILSI, North America.↩
Chand, J., Water, other fluids and fatal coronary heart disease: the Adventist Health Study. Am J Epidemiol, 155(9):827-33, 2002.↩
Manz, F. and Wentz, The importance of good hydration for the prevention of chronic disease. Research Institute of Child Nutrition. Yung, A.J., et al, Clinical benefits of hydration and volume expansion in a wide range of illnesses may be attributable to reduction of sympatho-vago ratio, Med Hypotheses↩