Water, elixir of life

Water is something we all take for granted -- a wonderfully crystal clear liquid that defines our planet and all life here as we know it. Known to the chemist, and most everyone else as two parts hydrogen one part oxygen; H20. Although the chemist with his deeper understanding of liquids will tell you water is a most unusual liquid. Almost all similar compounds of similar molecular weight and structure exist as gases at room temperature -- not liquids. Water, too, has the greatest solvent action of any liquid and is the only liquid which shows expansion upon cooling; a curiosity indeed.

The human body is composed of 70 percent water and is the single most important nutrient in the body. The body has very little tolerance for dehydration. A 5 percent loss of body fluid can cause headache, fatigue, confusion forgetfulness and increased heart rate.

When I get into discussions about water with my students, it's always interesting, sometimes heated. Many still believe that tap water is okay, and some cities rate higher in water safety than others. Of course, everything is relative. If tap water is all you have, then it will have to be okay. But, if you consider what your body is going to be doing with that water -- making solutions, forming blood, carrying nutrients to the cells, flushing toxins, lubricating joints, why would you want any other solutes like chlorine, fluoride and others in the water you are consuming? It's rather like trying to whitewash a wall with a bucket of dirty water. Why would you do that? The answer is you wouldn't!

No, I'm not saying all bottled water is created equal either. We've all seen the reports about the less than reputable companies filling their bottles from the local tap. I'm sure that's true. It doesn't change your body's need for a pure clean source of water.

What to do:

Get the facts! If you are currently buying bottled water, ask for an independent laboratory readout of what's left in the water. This is one case where less is more. If they are not willing to give you this information, switch to a company that will.

If you are looking into a water filtration system, the reverse osmosis process is best. A good home system will cost you about $300 installed. Simple charcoal filters placed on top of a plastic pitcher that cost about $19 will reduce the lead and chlorine content somewhat but most experts agree they simply aren't good enough.

If tap water is your only choice, here are some things to do to make it better tasting, safer and more user-friendly for your body. If you live in an old house where leaded plumbing connections are a concern, allow the water to run for 10 seconds before drinking. If you are concerned about possible bacteria, parasite or viral contamination, run the hot tap until hot hot, then allow the water to cool in glass containers.

You can reduce chlorine contamination by filling glass containers and allowing the water to sit covered, outgasing for 24-48 hours. Place your water in the sunlight. The light rays will increase molecular activity in the water and it will be a better drink for your body.

How much water should I drink? The old saying is 6-8 8-ounce glasses a day. This may be too much for some, not enough for others. If you exercise heavily, do manual labor, if you're ill or eat a fair amount of meat, you will need more water. A vegetarians' need for water may be less because of the high water content of plants.

Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. Remember, your body has very little tolerance for lack of water. Adequate quality water can change how you look and how you feel.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online May 24, 2000

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