The Fountain of Health
The Butterfly Effect is a phrase that the encyclopedia refers to “as the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or, for that matter, prevent a tornado from appearing). The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.” What drinking water, or not drinking enough, does for the human body is very similar.
We take water so much for granted, whether it’s drinking water or water for cleaning purposes. Less than l percent of all the water on earth is available or clean enough to drink. The rest is salty or frozen. You could survive about a month without food, but you could only survive 5 or 6 days without water. One gallon of gasoline spilled on the ground can pollute 750,000 gallons of water.
What comes to mind when you think of water? “Refreshment,” says Ms. Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed, Grant Writer, 35, from Lisle, IL. Ms. Sameena Basha, a lawyer from Arizona, seconds that. “Allah’s rahmat, especially living in a desert. It’s the BEST liquid and vital for life,” she adds. “We only drink bottled because the tap water has minerals that taste pretty bad. I have at least 3 glasses with every meal and many more ’cause of the HOT, HOT, HOT weather. When I am visiting my parents in Michigan, I drink less,” she says.
Fact: Almost two-thirds of our body weight is “water weight”. Fact: Three-fourths of our brain is water. Fact: Drinking water directly impacts health. Clean water is necessary for the body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the body. And when it comes to digestion, fiber cannot aid digestion without water and can cause constipation. If you think feeling thirsty is the signal you need to wait to drink water, think again. Parched lips means you’re already dehydrated. “It’s needed for metabolic balance, is an important constituent of the human body and dehydration can be serious, particularly for children,” says Ms. Ashraf-Ahmed.
“It is essential for life and my preferred drink of choice,” says Ms. Saera Arain, a Podiatrist in Oakbrook, IL. “It decreases water-retention in the body, which in turn decreases blood pressure, allows the kidneys to function properly, and keeps the cells hydrated. Over the course of the day I drink at least 4-5 glasses of water and I aim for 8.” And still many, especially the aged, drink less and less water fearing many trips to the bathroom.
Next time you’re feeling washed out and tired, calculate how much water you’ve drunk that day or that week. If it’s less than eight glasses a day, it means you’re dehydrated and that makes the blood literally thicker. The body has to work harder to circulate the blood. Consequently, the brain is less active, making it harder to concentrate, and leaving your body feeling fatigued. Other symptoms of dehydration include dry skin, muscle cramps, urine that is golden or has a strong odor.
According to findings of a six-year study of more than 20,000 healthy men and women aged 38-100 in the May 1, 2002 American Journal of Epidemiology, women who drank more than five glasses of water a day were 41 % less likely to die from a heart attack during the study period than those who drank less than two glasses. The protective effect of water was even greater in men.
“I know we need water to survive. Drinking 8 or more glasses of water is a great health habit for people,” says Ms. Dilara Sayeed, an educator based in Naperville, IL. “I try to drink water before I eat as the prophet did. This serves our health as well as our diet in that it helps fill us up so we are not overeating. This is a sunnah so I feel it is spiritually uplifting as well to follow the steps of the Prophet(s)[Peace be upon Him]”, She makes sure she’s drinking up to five glasses a day at least. As there is controversy as to whether all of us need eight glasses irrespective of our weight and height, some dieticians recommend a third of our weight (in pounds) as the right amount of water to consume.
For those with a history of kidney stones, water is a must. Water dissolves calcium in the urine and reduces the risk of stone formation. Drinking water also flushes impurities out of the system reducing the possibility of urinary tract infections.
A Mayo Clinic study showed that women who drank more than five glasses of water a day had a risk of colon cancer that was 45 percent less than that of those who drank two or fewer glasses a day. Other studies show that the risk of bladder cancer is reduced by 50%. Preliminary research also shows that the same quantity of water significantly eases back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
While we’re ever ready to dish out big dollars for diet pills, we’re less than willing to down our eight daily glasses of water. This when water is said to be a natural appetite suppressant and helps us manage our weight over the long haul. According to Doctor F. Batmanghelidj MD, author of “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water”, when you’re feeling hungry, it’s your body asking for water—not food. And yes, water can be found in cucumbers, melons and other fruits too. So when you’re not reaching for a water in its liquid state, eat some water-heavy fruit. Milk or juice work as water substitutes too.
Also if we’re dehydrated, fat cells get “rubbery” and cannot be easily metabolized. It becomes harder to lose weight when you don’t drink your water.
What’s your routine, if any, when exercising in terms of dehydration before and during the workout? “I try to drink several times before, throughout, and after the workout,” says Ms. Sayeed. Ms. Arain prefers, “one glass before working out, 1 glass in a water bottle during the workout, and 1 after.” During the pre-workout phase, one to two hours beforehand, it’s recommended that individuals consume 14-22 ounces of fluid to stay hydrated and The American College of Sports Medicine suggests about 10 ounces for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise.
Water builds muscle. According to sources, “In order to move muscle, you need water. Muscle is considered an active tissue and water is found in the highest concentrations in active tissue. If your body is dehydrated, you’re not going to have a very productive weight lifting session. Why? Your muscles are deprived of electrolytes. Muscles are controlled by nerves. The electrical stimulation of nerves and contraction of muscles are the result of the exchange of electrolyte minerals dissolved in water. Without enough water, your muscles are not getting enough electrolytes. Muscle strength and control are weakened. If you want to build muscle, than you must keep your body well hydrated.”
“I always need a water bottle with me and I drink it during strength training otherwise I don’t feel well. I’m dehydrated, more tired,” says Ms. Basha. Water also helps lubricate the joints and is a key ingredient in the makeup of the synovial fluid, the lubricating fluid between your joints. Anyone lifting weights knows how important paying attention to their joints is.
Nutritional biochemist Stephen Cherniske, MS in his book “The Metabolic Plan: Stay Younger Longer “, notes that Americans are more likely to reach for a caffeinated drink than a glass of water. If you’re one of them, he writes, “you might as well paste a sign on your forehead, ‘AGING AS FAST AS I CAN.”‘ That’s because water is required for all anabolic repairs, like recovery from exercise or healing from an injury, yet dehydration accelerates catabolic damage. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a dehydration-promoting diuretic and according to Cherniske even the slightest dehydration effects metabolism. Tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks are thieves that steal water from your body. This is as true of both adults and children. IFANCA’s complete list of products can be viewed at www.ifanca.org/products.