Seventy to 75 per cent of the human body (80 per cent in babies) is made up of water, which also serves as the base for all body fluids. Most people drink water only at meal times because they do not understand the role of water in healthy living.
Regular water losses
Water leaves the body as vapour through the air you breathe out and moisture from your mouth when you are talking or singing. The skin loses water when you sweat. The kidneys regularly filter the blood and get rid of its by-products, which is eliminated in the form of urine. Normal stool leaves the body with some water.
Adjustment mechanisms to water shortage
In order to maintain optimal function in the body, the regular water losses must be adequately replenished. When the demand for water outweighs the supply, the body automatically applies certain control mechanisms for adjustment. The brain, which is the most vital control centre in the body, is made up of over 70 per cent of water. When it senses a drop in the water level, it applies some shut-down/rationing measures. This approach is aimed at protecting and preserving the vital function of the brain, which the body cannot afford to shut down. Some of these conservative mechanism involve the release of certain chemicals which redirect water from the less vital organs, bringing about some inconveniences to the body such as reduced muscle tone and joint pain.
Apart from replenishing the body’s need, water also serves as medicine in the prevention/treatment of certain conditions:
Arthritis: Joint spaces are filled with some fluid (synovial fluid) which serves as a lubricant, preventing friction during movements. An adequate water intake supplies sufficient fluid to the joint, enhancing its shock-absorbing effect. Without this cushioning effect, the ends of the bones would rub against each other, get rough and inflamed, a condition known as arthritis. This creates a lot of pain, difficulty in movement and, sometimes, stiffness. Good water intake, among other things, helps to relieve this pain.
Management of Asthma: Asthmatic patients struggle for air because of the narrowing and spasm of the airways. They also breathe through the mouth in a bid to get sufficient air. These result in water loss through the moisture they breathe out. In addition to drug treatment, fluid intake (by drip/infusion) helps to grant them some relief by lubricating the airway and relaxing the tubes.
Prevention and management of Sickle Cell Crisis: Sickle cell patients are always advised to increase their water intake. This enhances a free flow of blood through the tiny blood vessels which tend to constrict when there is water shortage. Such constrictions encourage further sickling and blockage of the small blood vessel (capillaries) which results in destruction of the affected cells and pain. This is what happens during the so-called sickle cell (vasoocclussive) crisis. Good water intake helps to prevent and also contributes to the treatment of sickle cell crisis by mobilising the blockage and bringing about relief.
Management of Hepatitis: Fluids help to flush out the excess by-product of damaged cells.
Body odour and foul breath: A study on wild life showed that when a deer is thirsty, it produces some body odour which gives him away to his predators. This is partly why the deer, according to the scriptures, ‘pants after the water brooks’. In addition to discovering and treating the cause of body odour, increased water intake should be encouraged as a step towards the solution. Some people complain that their urine is dark-coloured and smells.
This could be a result of water shortage in the body, which causes the kidneys to restrict waste by concentrating the urine. The treatment is simply increased water intake.
Good singing: Dry throat has an adverse effect on the voice and makes it crack easily while water lubricates the vocal pipe.
Healthy Sex: Couples could find the missing ingredient in their relationship by improving their water intake for enhanced lubrication. This applies especially to females.
Indigestion and Constipation: these two different conditions could be prevented and treated by sufficient water intake.
Premature wrinkling: Water refreshes and helps to invigorate the skin, thereby reducing premature wrinkling and ageing.
It has been established that an average adult needs about one and half to two litres of water every day. This amount increases in very hot weather or when much water has been lost in diarrhoea. Note that mineral beverages are not alternatives to water. It is usually advisable to start the day with a glass of water on an empty stomach. This helps to cleanse the stomach, stimulate bowel movement and encourage the activity of digestive enzymes. Ideally, it is better to drink water about 30 minutes before and two hours after meals. Much water intake with meals could give false satiety and dilute enzyme activity.
Excerpt from Accountant Today - by Professor Prince Famous Izedonmi Ph.d, FCA from the University of Benin, Edo State and Dr. (Mrs.) Nma Ndubisi, MBBS is from the Convenant University, Ota, Ogun State.