What is it the world’s most mysterious substance? According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most mysterious substance in the world is very ubiquitous. It occupies over 70% of the earth’s surface area. It accounts for over 60% of your body’s weight. It indirectly represents the single largest cause of human morbidity and mortality. The world’s most mysterious substance is water and I will like us to examine it as it pertains to your health and mine as we move towards living long and living well.
Let me start by asking you how much water you drank yesterday? If you are like most people, you most probably drank less than 3 litres. For the tropics, assuming you didn’t do any strenuous activity, that is how much water your body needed to function and yet keep you from dehydration. If you are fatter than the average Joe, you needed more than that. If you sweat a lot, you needed more than that.
Water is life! Human survival is a matter of days without water. Your blood is 95% water. Your brain is 90% water and 90% of your lungs is just simply H2O. You are a moving water tank with a few additives. Whether you drink up or not, you are constantly losing water. You must pass out at least 400mls of urine daily. As you breathe you lose water. Without noticing it you are losing as much as 2 litres of water daily. We can’t just survive without water.
In spite of this great importance of water, most of us are simply not taking enough and dehydration is the sequelae. A mere 2% drop in our body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as a computer screen. (Are you having trouble reading this? Drink up!) Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. An estimated seventy-five percent of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. This is coming from a country where 100% of the population have access to safe drinking water. In our country, only 60% of the population do. Wonder what the prevalence will be here.
Dehydration is a spectrum ranging from mild to severe. We will restrict our discussion today to the mild to moderate grade. That’s the grade that makes your urine dark yellow to brown in colour and gives an odour that can cause a riot in the house (“WHO USED THE TOILET AND DIDN’T FLUSH?”)! Your urine can be clear!
There is increasing evidence that mild dehydration plays a role in the development of various morbidities. Simply ensuring adequate water intake can put at bay urolithiasis, constipation, exercise asthma, gout, urinary tract infections, hypertension, fatal coronary heart disease, venous thromboembolism, cerebral infarct and bronchopulmonary disorders. Even cancer of the large intestine has been linked to inadequate water intake.
Water vs. “Drinks”
Someone might just be saying to him/herself now, “…well, I actually don’t like drinking water; I prefer coffee/ ‘soft’ drinks/ ‘hard’ drinks etc. In fact, I can down 10 litres of chilled beer! So I have no problem.” Sorry friend. You have the greatest problem. The vast majority of these drinks are diuretics. That is, they cause you to urinate more. They end up causing the very thing I am asking you to prevent. They end up leaving you dehydrated!
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to condemn you to a lifetime of drinking only water. Definitely not! Variety they say is the spice of life. Tea is beneficial. A cup of cold natural fruit juice is a refreshing thing to take. A glass of wine now and then might actually elongate your life (you can ask the French about that). My point is they should not (and can really not) take the place of clean cool water. They are all substitutes. Water is the real deal.
Furthermore, this drinks cost more! Can you please calculate how much you have spent this week on “drinks”? Multiply it by 52. Think of how much you can safe up pursuing a healthy course of taking water. Please don’t eat your seeds. Sow them.
In addition, the vast majority of this drinks are excess calories that might come back to haunt you. I meant really H A U N T you! Obesity is a leading public health problem in the developed world. It is catching on fast in these parts of the world too. Over 1 billion adults are worldwide are overweight. We shall discuss this in depth hopefully soon.
Taking 8 cups of water daily can save you millions in medical bills in later life. Don’t wait till you are thirsty. Drink up! It might just save your life.