Q: Hey, Chuck! My wife and I love your new health and fitness column, “C-Force.” She’s always telling me that I don’t drink enough water and that it’s possibly the cause of some of my physical ailments. What say you? – M. Schmidt, Billings, Mont.
A: That is a very common question, and your wife is correct about the power of water in your life.
Julia Child summed it up well when she said, “Water is the most neglected nutrient in your diet but one of the most vital.”
In a previous article, I suggested a couple of great nutritional books. One of them was Dr. Don Colbert’s “The Seven Pillars of Health,” in which he simplifies complex matters and boils down the web of healthy lifestyle tips into simple steps.
Colbert’s seven pillars are a part of what I consider eight basics, or foundational principles, that you must focus on to create a better you. And some of them might surprise you. If you even relatively master these eight, you will greatly increase your odds of a long, energetic and productive life. Based upon questions from readers, I’ll be elaborating on each of them in future articles.
And it all starts with the most overlooked element to nutrition – water.
Water is critical throughout the body:
It helps transport nutrients and waste products in and out of cells and the body;
It is necessary for all digestive, absorption, circulatory and excretory functions;
It is critical for the proper function of every organ in the body;
It is needed for the utilization of water-soluble vitamins;
It helps to maintain proper body temperature.
That is why proper hydration is the first item on Dr. Colbert’s checklist in examining all ill patients. Roughly 70 percent of the body is made up of water, so drinking water makes sense. It is the most foundational aspect of life and the single most important nutrient. Again, it is used in every bodily function.
The fact is you can live five to seven weeks without food but only five days without water.
Colbert says, “Many Americans live in a mildly dehydrated state with various irritating symptoms and never realize it.”
Signs or symptoms of a lack of hydration include headaches, skin problems, digestion problems, back pain, arthritis, dry skin, being overweight, high blood pressure, asthma, memory loss and other ailments. Colbert testifies that in his medical practice, many people have actually experienced relief and even been cured through proper hydration.
The doctor recommends you don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Because the average body loses about two quarts through organ functions, perspiration, filtration and secretion, it is important to hydrate yourself regularly.
Thirst is actually your body’s way of saying, “I’ve needed water for a while.” If you wait to drink water, you’re likely dehydrated to some degree.
And here’s another hydration myth. I used to think I could get my daily dose of water in coffee, juice, soft drinks and milk, but chemicals and sugars often associated with these beverages (and certain types of caffeine, even in teas) actually dehydrate the body more than they replenish it.
There is an equation to figure the recommended amount of water you should drink. Your weight divided by 2 equals the number of ounces of water you need to consume daily. And not all of that needs to be drunk, as much of your food intake provides the liquid. For example, bananas are 70 percent water. Apples (80 percent), tomatoes (90 percent), watermelons (90 percent) and lettuce (95 percent) are also good sources of water.
In order to ensure the intake of quality water, use a reputable filtration system or drink good bottled water, because contaminants are plenty in much of our tap water.
With the essential role that water plays in life, you will benefit physically, mentally and spiritually, so remember that the road to a better you definitely begins with H2O.