15 Things to Know About Water & Why it’s Critical to Health & Life

Health boosting “super” drinks now range from antioxidant supplements to immunity boosters to protein shakes, anti-inflammatory tonics, vitamin water, mineral enhancers and more.  Water however is free and essential to life.    

A Quick Bit On My Story:   

I moved to California from a cold northern climate where there was plenty of good water sources and being close to the Great Lakes the air was often heavy with humidity.  I knew about the importance of hydration because I have done a lot of mountain biking over the years and have experienced the impact dehydration can have on the body during sports. 

A year or so after coming to California I had a physical.  I was surprised when my doctor confirmed that I was dehydrated.  I was practicing what the medical community refer to as voluntary dehydration – As it turns out my body hadn’t adjusted to the dry California climate having just moved form up North and as such, I was more prone to dehydration – I needed to drink more water despite living near the ocean where it is cool but still basically a desert.  Now I try to drink water throughout the day even if I’m not particularly thirsty. 

I am now in the beverage business as one of the owners of Sweet Prairie Haskap.  We manufacture a haskap juice that is a very concentrated berry extract dense in phytochemicals that are beneficial antioxidants, immune boosters and inflammation fighters.  I am more aware now than ever of the benefits of water as we research and develop recipes using haskap juice that promote health, performance and taste.  Through this development I’ve learned a lot more about water and the critical role it plays in supporting life.  I’m also amazed at how we have managed to overcomplicate hydration with drinks offering calories and ingredients we simply don’t need.  Below is a reminder of how important water is to health and life.

As we begin, it is important I think to really understand how important water is not only to survival but to optimal living – yet for many of us getting clean water is a challenge and may become even more challenging:

  • 97 per cent of the earth’s water is salt water, two per cent is frozen in glaciers and only one per cent is actually useable.
  • But around 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water around the world, and a total of 2.7 billion find water difficult to access for at least one month of the year.
  • Climate change is also likely to make access to clean water supplies harder many parts of the world. According to some estimates, as much as two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2025.

Ok, here are 15 quick facts you should know about water:

  1. 18 is the longest recorded number of days someone lived without water.  Water is one if not the most vital ingredient for life on Earth.  When it suddenly becomes unavailable life is quickly shortened to a number of days.  The longest someone is known to have gone without water (and survived) was Andreas Mihavecz, an Austrian bricklayer who was left locked in a police cell for 18 days in 1979 after the officers on duty forgot about him. His case even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
  2. You are Mostly Water: Approximately 75% of your body weight is water.  Even 31% of your bones are water.
  3. Food Water?: 22% of your daily water intake comes from the food you eat.  For example, a strawberry is 91% water.
  4. Water Zero: Water has zero calories and is the first and best no calorie beverage.  AND it’s often free.
  5. Thirst is Thin – Taste is Not: Thirst triggers us to drink water to survive.  Taste/emotional enjoyment triggers us to drink beverages with added calories (ie., sugar/alcohol) — your brain is what causes weight gain via choice. Thirst is satisfied quickly while taste/emotional drinking can be addictive & ongoing. 
  6. Water intake does not prevent wrinkles.  The water you drink has no direct impact on your skin’s hydration.  Intake of vitamins and minerals, however, will improve skin condition.  For example, Vitamin D not only modulates or suppresses inflammation in psoriasis; it also rectifies the abnormal epidermal function related to this condition.
  7. Voluntary dehydration: During challenging athletic events, it is not uncommon for athletes to lose 6–10% of body weight in sweat loss. 
  8. Stages of Dehydration: Water deprivation and dehydration can lead to the development of headaches – This is nature’s way of telling you to drink water.  1) Thirst Stage is when 2% of body weight of water is lost.  When thirst kicks in, your body clings to all remaining moisture. Your kidneys send less water to your bladder, darkening your urine. As you sweat less, your body temperature rises. Your blood becomes thicker and sluggish. To maintain oxygen levels, your heart rate increases. 2) Fainting Stage is when 4% of body weight of water is lost.  Your blood is so concentrated that the resulting decrease in blood flow makes your skin shrivel. Your blood pressure drops, making you prone to fainting. You’ve basically stopped sweating, and without this coolant, you start to overheat. 3) Organ Damage Stage is when 7% of body weight of water is lost.  Your body is having trouble maintaining blood pressure. To survive, it slows blood flow to non-vital organs, such as your kidneys and gut, causing damage. Without your kidneys filtering your blood, cellular waste quickly builds up. You’re literally dying for a glass of water. 4) Death Stage is when 10% of body weight of water is lost.  You need to drink some water—stat! If it’s hot out, your uncontrollable body temperature means your vital organs risk overheating; liver failure will probably kill you. But if conditions are mild, toxic sludge builds up in your blood, and your coroner’s report will more likely read: kidney failure. Reference:  https://www.popsci.com/dehydration-death-thirst-water/
  9. The Grumps: Mild levels of dehydration can produce disruptions in mood and cognitive functioning – A possible reason why the grumps come on, or a lack of focus
  10. Sports drinks don’t enhance performance.  Water is all your body needs for optimal performance.  That, rest, and a clean diet.
  11. Kidney Stones: Drinking water regularly does help to prevent kidney stones – it’s been scientifically proven.
  12. 8 Glasses of Water a Day Myth: There is currently no consensus on a “gold standard” for hydration markers.  What we know is that dehydration impacts mental and physical performance ——- Scientists say there’s no clear health benefit to chugging or even sipping water all day. So where does the standard advice of drinking eight glasses each day come from? “Nobody really knows,” says Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania.
  13. The Water Intervention Diet Helps: A study involving school kids swapping out 1.1 glasses/day of water instead of a sugary drink reduced their risk of being overweight by 31%.  Take the Water Intervention Challenge.  Replace one of your sugary or caloric drinks a day with water for a month and measure results.  For example, my Starbuck’s Caffe Mocha Grande with 2% milk has 370 calories which is the same as drinking 2.5 cans of Coke Original.  Sad but true.
  14. Tap Water and Bottled Water: They are generally comparable in terms of safety.
  15. Water Makes Stuff:  Water is critical to manufacturing basically everything.  Did you know that it takes about 11 gallons of water to produce just one slice of bread.  It takes an estimated 148,000 liters of water to make a car.

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