Water is the single most important 'nutrient' to sustain life.
The human body is 75-80% water and it must manage the water levels carefully to have the benefit of good health. In our 'instant, highly processed and preserved' culture the importance of water to our health is often overlooked - even ignored. In my experience as a health professional the symptoms of dehydration are the most over-medicated condition in our society.
Many ailments can be very successfully treated through adequate water intake. (see "Your Body's Many Cries For Water", Dr F Batmanghelidj M.D., watercure.com).
Water is acquired through food and drink and lost mainly through the urinary system and by evaporation from the skin and breath. Water is essential for the integrity of the cells and tissues and therefore the shape and strength of the body.
It provides a medium for the transportation of nutrients into and waste out of the cells. It buffers the biochemical reactions in the body and sustains the metabolic processes important to sustain life. The movement of water into a cell also generates energy within the cell.
Due to constant water loss through urination and evaporation the body must work to maintain sufficient water. The lower the water intake, the harder the kidneys and other body systems must work to maintain the body hydration.
The amount of water needed is dependent on the quality of water or fluid consumed.
Fluids that contain high levels of salts or sugars (eg soft drinks, coffee) provide little net water gain for the body.
Municipal water supplies with the typical, required levels of chlorine and other additives and contaminants contribute less to the hydration of the body than a good quality, pure drinking water.
To help the kidneys function with minimal physiological stress the following water intake is recommended in a temperate climate (20-30°C in summer, 10-20°C in winter):
Summer: a minimum of 1 litre of water per 25kg per day = 3 litres for a 75kg person
Winter: a minimum of 1 litre of water per 30kg per day = 2.5 litres for a 75kg person
An additional intake of 1 litre per hour when performing sport or exercise for adults and 750ml for younger athletes (less than 13-14 years old).
Many beverages and medications have a diuretic affect on the body requiring a higher water intake eg. alcohol, coffee, tea, antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Where oedema or swelling is present, water intake should be increased gradually ensuring that the body is excreting similar volumes to what is being consumed and not accumulating in the body tissues e.g. lungs. Higher levels of water also require some salt (sodium) intake.
Salt becomes a problem where there is inadequate water intake but is not only safe but necessary with good water intake (for further understanding see Batmanghelidj).
Water is the "Essence of Life" – drink it and live!