“It is all right to drink like a fish. If you drink what a fish drinks.”
Mary Pettibone Poole
“We emerged from the sea, and our bodies are composed of approximately 70% water, depending on a variety of factors, such as age, muscle and fat tissue ” said Sharon Weinstein, MD, a neurologist friend at Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, who happened to be born under the sign of Aquarius the Water Bearer. We came on the subject of water as we hiked the mountain trails outside of Park City, Utah recently.
No question about it, water, that natural, most temperate of elixirs is vital to life itself. We need to replace the 2.5 liters of water our bodies lose each day through breathing, sweating, and elimination. Without water, the body begins to crash and the potentially fatal process of dehydration begins. Thirst, decreased urination, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, and nausea are symptomatic of dehydration.
“Get thee to a well!” And when you are thirsty from hiking in the dry summer mountain air and high altitude, nothing tastes better than a bottle of cool H2O. Caffeine based drinks such as coffee, tea and soda act as diuretics and can dehydrate instead of nourish. Speaking of soda, with its long list of chemicals, preservatives, and additives, truth is we don’t really know what toll we might pay for those bubbly liquids we pour from the irresistibly designed, brilliantly marketed bottles and cans.
News bits and by-lines on health and nutrition, as well as scientific sources, nudge us to drink at least 8 full glasses a day, every day. The ante goes up if you exercise vigorously, or are subject to extreme temperatures. It sounds like a hefty assignment, 8 full glasses. Who has the time to sit around and chug-a-lug water all day? The secret code is “sip”. That’s right, never get too far away from your water supply. Keep a bottle at work and plenty of cold ones in the fridge at home.
Just like you got into the habit of carrying your meter and (diabetes) supplies with you, get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you. Stick it in your bag before leaving the house. I’ve become so good at it, I fill a bottle halfway and freeze it overnight, top it off in the morning and I’m good to go with cool water. The effort is worthwhile.
So, what exactly is the big deal about this elixir of life? Water, a solvent, has a myriad of functions to perform in the body. It helps in the digestion of foods by dissolving nutrients and acting as a transporter to carry them throughout the body. Water, of course, helps regulate body temperature by cooling through perspiration. Water lubricates our moving parts by acting as an internal moisturizer. Water ushers waste material out of the body. And water helps send the electrical communication that facilitates major functions that make life so wonderful. Sight, thinking and muscle strength are a few prime examples. Water refreshes, replenishes, cleanses and makes our bodies work better. Sipping water throughout the day may even act as an appetite suppressant by giving the feeling of fullness.
Water comes in a garden variety of types. There’s hard water (which rises from underground wells and springs and contains many minerals and can leave a “salty” or “scummy” feeling on skin and hair. It can even taste salty). Soft water comes from streams and rain and is guided into reservoirs. Since it bypasses the minerals deep down in the earth, it doesn’t have the salty taste nor does it coat hair or skin. Both hard and soft water is what flows out of your tap. If you don’t like the taste of your local water, don’t despair, buy bottled.
Springwater is extracted from mineral springs close to the earth’s surface. It has become so popular that entire supermarket aisles are devoted to gallon jugs of water from springs from Poland, Maine to Calistoga, California. Mineral water is spring water that comes from a little deeper in the earth, therefore contains more minerals. Some mineral waters act as diuretics. Some are flat water and some are pumped with naturally occurring gases to make them effervescent and bubbly. Distilled water is the purest form of tap water. It has been processed to remove all impurities. Try making a cup of tea with distilled water. You’ll really taste the full flavor of your favorite tea unencumbered by mineral salts.
My advice is to drink whichever type you prefer, as long as you sip plenty of it each day. We can live without food for quite a while if need be, but we simply can’t make it without water. Many of the foods we eat are mostly water. All fruits and vegetables contain high water content. Lettuces, for example, are 90% water. Even cheese has surprisingly high water content. Part skimmed ricotta is 74% water. And here’s a shocker, a hamburger is more than 50% H2O! Now that we are talking food, how about grabbing a bottle, of you, know what, and heading over to Cyber Kitchen for a few good ways to incorporate more water into our cooking.