The Wonder of Water

Written: 7/7/2010 by Alun Biggart

The Wonder of Water

We love water, we use it every day to drink and cook, we play in it, build our dream homes next to it, travel to exotic locations to be near to it, cleanse ourselves with it, and visit spas to seek out its healing powers.

Water is the most dominant element on earth and according to legend the fountain of youth is a spring of water located on the Bahamian island. In fact water is so important that its presence on another planet is the single most exciting clue scientists can find for life.

Yet we take these simple 3 atoms H2O for granted. Did you realise that over 70% of the earth’s surface is water, most of it undrinkable salt water. Only 3% of the earth’s H2O is fresh water that we can drink and of this ninety-seven percent is trapped in glaciers.

Most of us know little about something so important to the survival of our planet and all its plants and animals. Yet when you consider the following facts the importance of water to your health becomes clear.

Of the six nutrients-carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water - water is by far the most important nutrient in your body. Over 70% of your body weight is water. You can survive for only a few days without water but live for weeks without food.

Water is the backbone of every bodily function. That's why doctors and nutritionists recommend that people drink 10 glasses a day (approx. 2 litres), and more if you are engaging in physical activity. However, far too many people underestimate waters importance to there health.

As a result many of you reading this article are chronically dehydrated. And because you’re dehydrated, your cardiovascular system, your metabolism, your digestion etc. isn’t working properly.

This lack of hydration has a price: a general sense of fatigue, ageing, weight gain, impaired immune function, poor recovery from training and increased chance of serious disease such as cancer, arthritis, asthma, allergies etc.

Clearly, it's time to reverse this trend. One of the best ways to ensure you drink enough water is to understand exactly how water effects your health, so that drinking enough of it becomes a habit and priority for you.

Water is a free investment you can make to protect your body against aging, injury, disease and improve your sports performance. Consider following the advice in this article and you will be a long way down the road to success!

By means of water, we give life to everything. The Koran 21:30

Water - the Source of All Life

Your muscles that move your body are 75% water, your blood that transports nutrients is 82%, your lungs that provide your oxygen are 90%, your brain 75% and even your bones are 25% H2O.

Approximately 70% of your body weight comes from water! Therefore the quality of your tissues and their resistance to injury and disease, is dependent on the quality and quantity of the water you drink.

Water should be replaced frequently because it's continuously lost through sweat, evaporation, respiration, and waste. It delivers nutrients and oxygen to your cells, acts as a natural cooling system, provides a protective cushion for your tissues, and is essential to digestion and the removal of metabolic waist products through perspiration and urine.

Nobody can be in good health if he does not have all the time - fresh air, sunshine, and good water. Flying Hawk, Oglala Sioux Chief, statement in old age

As a health conscious person, you want toxins out and nutrients in-and water is fundamental to that process. Below is a summary of waters important functions:

Nutrient absorption and elimination: Water is the medium which transports the nutrients and oxygen inside the cells and removes waste ie. Water provides nourishment and cleansing for your body.

Water as a Regulator: Water has great heat absorbing capabilities.

This is why we add it to the antifreeze in our car radiators in order to cool the engines. When we get hot from exercise or outside temperatures, our blood circulates through the body to balance the temperature.

When the body temperature climbs, the pores in the skin open, sweat pours out, and body heat is lost through perspiration, which is 98% water. Once outside the body, perspiration cools through evaporation. In effect your body has an air-conditioning system to keep you from over-heating and destroying your cells.

The reverse is also true, your blood, works to keep your skin warm when exposed to the cold. Have you ever had red, rosy cheeks in the winter? This is blood coming to the surface of the facial skin in order to keep it warm.

Water lubricates and cushions joints and tissues: Water is the key component in the fluids that lubricate our joints, such as our knees and elbows. That’s why drinking more water can often be a very effective way of reducing joint pain if you are dehydrated.

Digestion: Our saliva and all other digestive juices are very important factors in the breakdown of billions of food molecules, so that our small intestines can absorb the nutrients we eat.

Water also makes up most of our saliva and digestive juices. Have you ever tried swallowing with a dry mouth? Lack of water will greatly retard digestion, causing poor digestion and clogging to the system.

However, do not drink too much water with your meals because it will dilute the stomach's hydrochloric acid and enzyme function, greatly weakening your ability to digest food properly. Its best to drink a large glass of water 30 minutes before a meal and sip a little water during meals, just enough to wash the food down.

Blood: The red and white blood cells are suspended in plasma, as well as the nutrients, minerals, enzymes, and hormones. It is very important to keep the blood thin enough to allow free-flowing circulation.

Blood that is healthy will do the needed work of cell cleansing and waste removal. When the blood is too thick and the red blood cells cannot flow easily, a diseased condition appears. That’s why its a good idea to start your day with two large glasses of water, it will enter your circulatory system and begin cleansing right away.

Removes toxins from your body: Your body uses water for it’s cellular fluid, blood, lymphatic fluid, and mucus in order to clean itself internally. The blood deposits body waste into the colon or large intestine. Water plays a major role in this process, for about 2/3 of a healthy stool is made up of water.

The rest is solid waste, such as dead blood cells, bacteria, fat, cellulose, etc. If you are dehydrated then your body can’t clean itself properly and often results in having difficulty in doing your poo. You should go to toilet at least once a day for a good quality poo (20cm in length, well shaped, light brown in colour, easy and pleasurable to pass and doesn’t stink).

Many people think a normal bowl movement if once or twice a week. It should be quality every day as several days or even weeks of fecal waist with all the bad things it contains is not something you want backed up in your body – a perfect environment for disease!

The Brain and Nerves: Our brains are about 75% water. Here water also plays a major roll in our ability to think, to remember, and to relate socially to one another. Lack of water in our systems will result in mental dullness, depression, fatigue, and our inability to handle stress well.

Water is also essential for the neuro-transmitters to move properly along the long nerve axon tubes. If you start to feel tired try water instead of a coffee.

Cell Metabolism: Water is a very important part of each cell and its ability to produce energy-cell metabolism. All nutrients, minerals, enzymes, oxygen, etc., are moved in through the cell membranes to the various working parts inside the cell.

Water is used within the cell to produce many chemical reactions. Cell waste is also transported by cellular fluids back to the blood for cell cleansing. When we do not get enough water, it is like draining the water out of the fish tank with all the fish inside. We dehydrate ourselves, and if continued, sickness and disease sets in.

Ageing and Healthy Skin: If you are dehydrated then you are more than likely speeding up the aging process. Compare it with the drying out of plums, which become prunes. Now prunes are great to eat, but nature never designed you to become one! In addition if you are dehydrated then your body won’t be able to flush the toxins out of your body that affect your skins health and appearance.

Furthermore as we get older the water content of our bodies often declines to as low as 50%. This gradual dehydration is a hallmard of the aging process. Drinking enough water together with making sure you are eating enough of the healthy essential omega-3 fats is an easy and effective way to keep your skin young and soft and slow down the aging process.

How much water should you drink?

As a general rule we should drink approx. 2 litres of water daily, more when we are sick, in a hot climate or exercising. A good formula for daily water intake is: your body weight in kg x 0.033. For a 80kg man this would be 80 x 0.033 = 2.64 litres.

You are not sick, you are thirsty! Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water.

To help keep you properly hydrated and maintain your body’s electrolyte balance add a pinch of unprocessed celtic sea salt. Pure sea salt contains over 80 trace minerals, even though you can’t taste it, this special salt not only gives the water a nice mouth feel but supplies the electrolytes it looses daily.

Most people find that adding a pinch of sea salt to their water reduces the frequency of urination. Make sure its quality sea salt and not the white over processed table salt, there is a “health” of difference between the two! For more info on the choosing the correct salt click here.

How do I know if I have drunk enough?

You can confirm whether you are drinking enough water by looking at the colour of your urine - make sure your urine is plentiful and a light, pale colour. Urine that’s very dark, with little volume is a clear sign you need to drink more fluids! If you are active in sports then fluid balance is extra important for your performance.

Knowing your bodyweight pre- and post-exercise is a good way of keeping track of fluid loss. You should weight roughly the same before and after. If not, drink more during training.

Don’t obey your thirst—beat your thirst.

Your body is an incredible machine that offers you built-in warning signals-like those lights that appear on your dashboard when there's a problem with your car. Thirst is a red flag announcing that your body's functions are diminished.

However by the time you get thirsty, you're already dehydrated and need to replace fluids that were lost through evaporation and sweating. Hydration needs to be an ongoing process. If you relied on your thirst alone for proper hydration, you’d put back only 50% to 75% of what you need.

Additionally, as we grow older our thirst mechanism works less efficiently so older adults will want to be sure to drink water regularly, and again. So make sure you drink the a little and often through out the day checking your urine for your hydration status.

What should we drink?

Tea, Coffee, and cola: These common beverages are found everywhere in our society and it’s what the majority of people drink throughout the day. Their long- term use can be very dangerous. Most people drink caffeinated drinks to give them a "boost of energy" to help get them started in the morning, or to help them through the day.

However this puts a strain on the nerves, the digestive and immune systems, the heart and because caffeine is a diuretic beverages containing it dehydrate you. So not only have we got a scenario of people not drinking enough water but all the caffeine drinks or alcohol they are consuming is further dehydrating them.

We love water because we are water! Steve Meyerowitz author of Water The Ultimate Cure

IE. If you drink a bottle of cola you loose more water than you gain – there is a net fluid loss. Therefore to remain hydrated you need to drink an extra glass of water to replace the fluid you loose via the dehydrating effect of the cola.

Be careful of high sugar sports drinks that come in neon blue, fluorescent green etc all dyed with unnatural colours and artificially flavoured with harmful toxic chemicals. They don’t count either.

We are designed to drink water and nothing else. That sentence is so important to your health I will repeat it again WE ARE DESIGNED TO DRINK WATER AND NOTHING ELSE.

It’s ok to have an occasional drink of coffee but if you are living off the stuff and not drinking any water then you are severely compromising your long term health! Drink more water with a pinch of quality sea salt and feel the difference!

Is our drinking Water Clean?

Much of the world’s water is polluted due to the dumping of human and industrial waste into rivers and oceans. In China for example over 80% of the major rivers are so polluted they no longer support fish. Many East European rivers run yellow with industrial poisons.

In Denmark where I live although our water quality is decreasing its still much better than many other countries. This means in general the drinking water is safe.

In many countries chlorine and fluoride is added to the water. Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent that may increase the risk of heart disease and is linked to certain types of cancer.

Further more there are many studies linking fluoride to numerous health ills including arthritis, bone cancer, emphysema and nervous system disorders like Alzheimer's disease and attention deficit disorder. So you don’t want it in your water or your toothpaste! Look for toothpaste without fluoride in it.

If you are usure of the quality of the drinking water where oyu live then go on the internet and do a search.

If you are satisfied that the drinking water is safe then I would advise you to letting water run for 30 seconds before filling up your glass to make sure the water you are about to drink is fresh and doesn’t contain any contaminants such as lead from the pipes that are transporting it.

If you drink bottled water then be sure to choose a quality brand such as Evian, Volvic or Aquador. Many of the cheaper brands are bottled in poor quality plastic that leach toxic chemicals into the water.

You do not want these chemicals in your body, they do very nasty things to your insides. That’s why it’s best to store water in glass but if this is not practical then choose a hard plastic that has the number 1 in the triangle on the bottom of the bottle.

Never, never leave plastic bottles in direct sunlight, this is asking for trouble as when heated the bottles leach chemicals in to the water.

H2O on the Go - Tips for Healthy Hydration

Start your morning’s right: Reach for a BIG glass of water first thing in the morning—even before coffee if you just have to have a cup (which, as described above is a diuretic, which means it will take water out of your body).

This water in the morning really gets the blood flowing, helps remove the toxins that have built up while you have been sleeping and in having a good bowel movement.

Be a bottle baby: Buy a 1½ litre bottle of water, fill it up every morning and carry with you everywhere. To the gym, at your desk, in the car. It will be a constant source of liquid inspiration.

Add quality sea salt: As discussed above this will help main your body’s electrolyte balance and reduce the need for toilet stops.

Be hydrated before you exercise: A good way to do this so that you won’t have the need for a toilet stop during a run or training session is to have a glass of water 5-10 minute’s before exercising. This will divert blood from your liver to your muscles reducing the production of urine.

Enjoy a sauna or steam bath: Sweating helps clean the blood and the lymphatic system. Its one of the detoxification tools available to us. Relax, sweat and then remember to drink plenty of water afterwards to replace the loss of fluids.

Drink regularly during workouts: Keep the water flowing during your workouts. Drink at least 1 litre for every 60 minutes of exercise. More if it’s hot. This is of course over and above the 2-3 litres you should be drinking daily.

You must condition your body to get used to taking fluids by using fluids during training sessions, and not just during competition. Gradually build up the volume of fluid you drink.

Exercise increases water needs

One of the strange characteristics of sportspeople, even elite world class performers, is the tendency to under estimate the amount of water their bodies loose during training and competitions.

During exercise, such as playing sport on a hot summer’s day you can loose up to 2 litres of fluid as sweat per hour for a short time. If this water is not replaced, total blood volume will drop and oxygen delivery to your muscles will be hindered because blood is more than 75% water.

For every litre of water lost through exercise, your heart rate elevates about eight beats per minute; cardiac output declines about one litre of blood per minute; and your body temperature rises about 0.3 Celsius.

A reduced blood volume will compromises your bodies ability to detoxify and nourish your cells with adequate nutrients, disrupts your bodies chemical balances, and result in overheating. Therefore if you are dehydrated your performance literally dries up.

A 75kg individual who loses 1½kg after a training session has lost 2% of bodyweight—more than enough to adversely affect physical and cognitive functioning. In fact scientists have shown that a loosing as little as 2% of bodyweight can result in a 20% decrease in performance.

In an experiment I weighed profession badminton player’s pre and post training and some of them had lost over 5kg because they didn’t drink much during training. The ones who drunk the least were also the ones who were often sick and injured! I bet you many of you reading this article loose this amount and more!

Recover faster from training and burn more fat!

Lack of adequate hydration also affects your recovery from exercise. Because you force your internal organs, which are as much as 85% water, to work overtime. The stomach depends on water to help digest food, and lack of water makes it harder for nutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins, to be broken down and used as energy and in the growth and repair of your muscles.

The liver, which dictates where all nutrients go, also needs water to help convert stored fat into usable energy. If you're dehydrated, the kidneys turn to the liver for backup, diminishing its ability to metabolize stored fat. The resulting reduced blood volume will interfere with your body’s ability to remove toxins and supply your cells with adequate nutrients.

Water also aids in both injury recovery and prevention by protecting internal organs and tissues and lubricating joints, making movements easier to perform. Keeping muscles well hydrated also helps prevent injury, since muscle is about 3/4 water.

Considering the above facts its amazing how many sports people train extremely hard, eat healthily, spend money on supplements but forget or don’t consider it important to drink enough quality water. This results in sub optimal performance. Dehydration is without a doubt the biggest and most common nutritional mistake people make today!

Conclusion - The Wonder of Water

Water is an essential part of life. It is without doubt your most important nutrient. Over 70 percent of your body is water, and you must constantly top up the supply, as water's used continuously in the processes of life.

Good hydration cushions bones and joints, transports nutrients, flushes toxins, regulates body temperature and empowers the body’s natural process of healing. Many people fail to drink enough of it – do not be one of them.

Don’t let your body dry up! Dehydration is the biggest health mistake people make today. Lack of water can sabotage the effectiveness of your exercise and nutrition program.

If you're committed to a healthy lifestyle and want long term health, make drinking enough water a habit and priority in your life. It won’t take long for you to feel the benefits.

Water is a free investment you can make to protect your body against aging, injury, and disease - plus boost your energy levels and sports performance. Start the day with a large glass of water.

Consider cutting down on your consumption of diuretic beverages such as coffee, cola, beer, and wine, they flush water out of your body. Monitor your urine to make sure you are optimally hydrated.

Remember you can survive for only a few days without water but live for weeks without food! You now know the importance of drinking enough water with a pinch of quality sea salt - follow the rules in this article 2-3 litres per day and you will be a long way down the road to success!

One final "thought": If you don't have a glass of water in front of you right now as you're reading this article, you're probably not drinking enough!

References: – Dr. F. Batmanghelidj
Oser BL, ed Hawkes Physiological Chemistry. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965.
Exercise Physiology McArdle Katch and Katch
Sawka MN, et al. Influence of hydration level and body fluids on exercise performance in the heat. Journal of the American medical association 1984; 252:1165-1169.
L.E. Armstrong and Y. Epstein, “Fluid-Electrolyte Balance During Labor and Exercise: Concepts and Misconceptions,” Intern. J. of Sports Nutr. 9.1 (1999) : 1-12.
“Fun Facts About Water,” United Water Company, 1999.
W.A. Latzka and S.J. Montain, “Water and Electrolyte Requirements for Exercise,” Clin. Sports Med. 18.3 (1999) : 513-524.
S.M. Kleiner, “Water: An Essential but Overlooked Nutrient,” J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 99.2 (1999) : 200-206.
Steve Meyerowitz Water The Ultimate Cure


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