Any way you look at it, you are mostly water! The question is, if you take water for granted, aren't you in essence taking yourself for granted? Your brain and muscles are three-quarters water. Your blood and lungs are over 80% water. Even your bones are one-quarter water. Next to oxygen, water is unquestionably the most important nutrient for sustaining life. Then why don't the majority of us drink enough of it?
Well you might say; I drink plenty of liquid; juice, coffee, tea, sodas. Nothing can take the place of water. A great many of us may indeed be dehydrated and not even know it! Aging is a process of drying out. Many health researchers and medical experts now believe that water-not just fluid-is essential to our health and well being, and is one of the keys to slowing down the aging process and helping us lose excess body fat!1,2,3
Muscling in on longevity
By now you are all well aware that lean body mass (especially muscle) to a very large extent controls the overall metabolic rate of the body,4 but did you know it also determines your age - at least from a cellular standpoint. Research presented in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in 1997, shows muscle mass as being the number one determining factor in longevity (experiencing a longer, yet more healthful life).5
The problem is that the great majority of North Americans will lose anywhere from one-third to one-half of their lean body mass over their lifetime-especially if they are sedentary (resistance exercise maintains muscle). According to Dr. Robert Mazzeo, professor of exercise physiology at the University of Colorado, the majority of major health risks for the frail elderly are immobility, falls and fractures, which are all related to muscle weakness. Muscle strength is directly related to muscle loss and Dr. Mazzeo states, "Studies indicate that muscle strength declines by approximately 15 percent per decade in the sixties and seventies and about 30 percent thereafter."6 Researchers have also shown that a loss of muscle mass is even correlated to loss of brain and nervous system function as we age.
Studies prove that maintaining and enhancing muscle mass is associated with: increased energy, lower body fat levels, better mood, stronger connective tissue, better immunity and the list goes on. As you are now aware, your muscles are 75% water.
Speaking of slowing down premature aging, maintaining lean body mass (muscle) and losing body fat, everyone realizes how important regular exercise is. Intensive exercise can cause a person to lose five to eight pounds of fluid through perspiration, evaporation, and exhalation. Studies show that for every pound of fluid lost, there is a significant drop in the efficiency with which the body produces energy. Everybody wants energy! But how many of us actually understand how energy is made in the body?
Running on empty
The majority of energy is produced in tiny little power plants within our cells called mitochondria (my-toe-con-dria). The more active a cell is, the more mitochondria it contains. Some of our cells (like heart, muscle and brain cells) contain thousands of these tiny power plants. Our cells are completely dependant upon mitochondria to not only sustain life by generating energy, but research has even shown that mitochondria are also responsible for ending life by triggering cells to commit programmed suicide (apoptosis). In fact, one of the major reasons we experience aging as we know it is because our mitochondria lose their ability to produce energy and cellular suicide increases in later years. This phenomenon is referred to as the Bioenergetic Theory of Aging.7
The mitochondria are also where the majority of your fat is burned as energy. They produce power through a process called the Krebs cycle. This cycle (the Krebs) is responsible for converting the nutrients from the foods we eat-the protein, carbs and fats-into a universal chemical energy substance called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is like an electrical source, nothing in our body runs without it. In fact, we use so much ATP on a daily basis that the total amount required just to get most of us through the day would weigh in at an estimated 150 to 200 pounds.8
The process in which ATP is converted from our foods into the energy we feel is extremely complicated. So complicated in fact that we still don't fully understand (nor can we recreate) how the body manufactures energy using a process called electron transfer.
So what does all this biochemistry babble have to do with water you ask? The fact remains that water is imperative in the creation of ATP. In fact, ATP has to be broken down by water in order to generate its energy-in a process called hydrolysis (meaning water broken). As I mentioned, ATP is like an electrical charge, and water is responsible for providing the primary hydroelectric energy that is stored in ATP when the cell is inactive. As your cells becomes active, water hydrolyzes ATP and energy is released again so that you can do everything it is you do in a 24 hour period, yes, even sleep! So as you can see, a low water environment means inadequate energy production. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Is tap water good enough?
Have you ever left a few drops of tap water in a glass on your counter only to come back to a dried residue of sediment? Do you actually believe that the sediment should be in your body-it shouldn't! Over 60,000 different chemicals are known to contaminate our water supplies and studies indicate that we may drink over 450 pounds of raw metal and sediment over the course of our lifetime! The problem is that the human body cannot use the majority of these inorganic materials in our tap water.9
Aside from this, the specialized water channels-aquaporins-mentioned above only allow the purest of water to travel through their structures to hydrate your 100 trillion thirsty cells. Therefore, it would stand to reason that you should drink only the cleanest sources of properly filtered-not mineralized-water. Water purity is measured in Total Dissolved Solids in milligrams per liter (TDS mg/l) usually referred to as parts per million or ppm. You should do your best to always consume extremely low ppm water, for this reason I recommend distillation, reverse osmosis filtration and bottled waters with ppm levels of 30 or less.
Health experts are still not 100% certain regarding exactly how much water is needed by the average person on a day to day basis-due to factors including amount of exercise, heat loss, illness, etc.-but the general consensus is that adults require anywhere from three-quarters to one ounce of water per pound of body weight. In other words, the average 120-pound woman should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day.References
- Hodak SP, Verbalis JG. Abnormalities of water homeostasis in aging. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2005 Dec;34(4):1031-46, xi.
- Miller M. [Aging and water metabolism in health and illness] Z Gerontol Geriatr. 1999 Jul;32 Suppl 1:I20-6.
- King B. Fat Wars Action Planner. Wiley & Sons, Toronto, Ont. 2003
- King BJ. Fat Wars: 45 Days To Transform Your Body. CDG Books. Toronto, Ont. 2002. (pg.11)
- Ravaglia G, et al. Determinants of functional status in healthy Italian nonagenarians and centenarians: a comprehensive functional assessment by the instruments of geriatric practice. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1997 Oct;45(10):1196-202.
- Krucoff C. Making Muscle a Thing of the Present: New Guidelines Urge Older Exercisers to Put Emphasis on Strength Training. The Washington Post, Jan. 26, 1999; Pg. Z28
- Linnane AW et al. The universality of bioenergetic disease. Age-associated cellular bioenergetic degradation and amelioration therapy. 1998. Ann NY Acad Sci 854: 202-213.
- King, BJ & Schmidt, MA; BIO-AGE: Ten Steps To A Younger You, CDG Books Canada, 2001.
- Willix, RD; The Shocking truth About the Water You Are drinking Now…and the lethal Effect it may have on Your Health; Doctor's Special Report, Healthier You Inc., 1998.