What is Water?

Water is a simple colourless and tasteless molecule of oxygen and hydrogen, H2O, which is essential to life as we know it.

What does it do in our bodies?

We contain approximately 70% water, with the human brain being made up of 75% water, blood 92%, and lungs 90%. Body water is higher in men than in women and falls in both with age.

altIt is water that keeps the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels and carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, as well as  helping eliminate the by-products of metabolism, for example urea, a waste product formed through the processing of dietary protein. It maintains the health and integrity of every cell in the body. Water regulates body temperature through sweating, and moisturizes the skin to improve its texture and appearance.

Water aids digestion and prevents constipation, and helps reduce the risk of cystitis by keeping the bladder clear of bacteria.

It serves as a shock absorber inside the eyes, spinal cord and in the amniotic sac surrounding the foetus in pregnancy, as well as lubricating all our mucous membranes such as in the mouth and airways, and lubricating and cushioning the joints.

How much water do we need?

We naturally lose about 2.5 l water daily in basic activities such as breathing and digestion; more if we sweat, and a loss of even 2% of our total body water can result in signs of dehydration such as fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic arithmetic, and difficulty focusing on small print. The average person requires 30-35ml per kg of body weight daily, i.e. a minimum of 2100 l per day in a 70kg person, -more if you are overweight, of which we take in 500ml in our food. If you have any kidney or adrenal problems, or your doctor has you taking diuretics, you need to consult with your doctor about how much water to drink each day.

Can we drink too much?

If too much water is drunk the kidneys cannot excrete enough fluid. Drinking too much water can cause water intoxication with low sodium levels in the blood stream, or hyponatremia, due to dilution. Sodium is needed in muscle contraction and for sending nerve impulses, and loss results in headaches, blurred vision, cramps (and eventually convulsions) due to swelling of the brain, followed by coma and possibly death. For water to reach toxic levels, you would have to consume many litres a day. Water intoxication is most common in people with particular diseases or mental illnesses (for example, in some cases of schizophrenia) and in infants who are fed infant formula that is too diluted, but was also seen in marathon runners before research by Dr Tim Noakes revealed what was happening.

How can I drink all that water? 2litres seems a lot!

Don't drink all of the water you need per day all at once. Divide the amount you need and drink several glasses of water throughout the day. This is especially important if you engage in sport.

Infants should be given only formula or breast milk unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise.

Is tap water healthy or should I drink bottled?

Tap water in South Africa is safe and clean. Bottled water is an expensive alternative, which has at times been found to be more contaminated than tap water! To check the water quality for your area go to www.dwa.gov.za/bluedrop.  The department also has a Mobi site, where you can check via your cellphone:  www.my-water.mobi

If you are in a situation where the water hygiene is less than desirable, you can sterilize your water in several ways:

  1. By boiling in a pressure cooker. Place a bottle of water in a pressure cooker. Make sure that there is no cap on it or that the cap is loosened so it does not burst under pressure. Cover the cap with a piece of aluminium foil to prevent bacteria from accumulating around the mouth of the bottle at a later date. Heat the water to 121 degrees for 20 minutes. Slowly release the pressure. Let the aluminium foil cool. Close the cap and fold down the aluminium.
  2. Chlorination: First let water stand until particles settle. Pour the clear water into an uncontaminated container and add regular Chlorine Bleach as below. Mix well. Wait 30 minutes. Water should have a slight bleach odour. If not, repeat dose.  Wait 15 minutes. Sniff again. Keep an eyedropper taped to your emergency bottle of Bleach, since purifying small amounts of water requires only a few drops. Don't pour purified water into contaminated containers.

                    2 drops of regular Chlorine Bleach per quart of water

                    8 drops of regular Chlorine Bleach per gallon of water

                   1/2 teaspoon regular Chlorine Bleach per five gallons of water

                   If water is cloudy, double the recommended dosages of Chlorine Bleach.

   3. Utilize the effect of ultraviolet radiation on the most common pathogens. This is of particular use if you are in a circumstance where large amounts of sterile water are needed and you have few resources. Pour off particle matter. Take the clear water and pour it into a clear plastic bottle. Place the plastic bottle on a dark surface. Leave the bottle in sunlight for at least eight hours. The combined effect of ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and heat is effective in producing a primarily safe source of drinking water.

  4. Use a 2 percent tincture of iodine to sterilize water. Add 12 drops of the solution to every gallon of water to be sterilized.
Read more: How to Sterilize Water | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2050318_sterilize-water.html#ixzz1Y7KcmXCA

What it is not? Some myths!

Some health quacks have published all sorts of claims about water. It does not cure any diseases, although chronic dehydration may be one of the causes of premature aging. Water does not wash away nutrients in the stomach, nor does it react with fats in the diet. The stomach contents are efficiently mixed into a semiliquid state before being passed into the duodenum for further digestion.

‘Retaining water’ is a frequent excuse for being overweight, but a normal healthy person does not retain water. Causes of genuine water retention are usually serious illness such as kidney heart or liver failure. Mild retention sometimes happens in women before a period, but this normally resolves with the onset of the menses.

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