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Ask Dr. Denton: Do I Need to Drink all that Water? Water, the Source of Life

By Dr Denton D. Weiss, M.D.
August 11th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

So what is it about water that makes us so refreshed and increases our vitality? Maybe it is because we are made up of water.  Actually, 60 - 70% of our bodies are water. We have both intracellular (in our cells) and extracellular (outside our cells) water and the two are vital for keeping us alive and vital! As human beings, we are, in a sense, beautiful bags of water. What we put into our mouths fills the bag with good water or bad!

PORTSMOUTH, VA (Catholic Online) - As a medical Doctor who often helps people discover what we call "beautiful living" - which includes optimum health - I am often asked about recommendations on how much water to drink to drink every day. It is now a part of every recommendation for healthy nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. So, let me offer some thoughts for our readers on water.

As I shot across the water on a Jet Ski this past weekend and splashed with joy in the blue of the sky and the sea I was overcome with the happiness of floating...floating effortlessly. I was filled with a sense of what we call vitality; the root of the word means life! I could sense the wonder that the Ethiopian Court Official must have felt as he was brought out of the water to a new life and a new world of the spirit after being Baptized by St. Philip (Acts 8). The cleansing and liberating explosion of New LIFE! WOW!

As I consider the earliest chapters of the gift of our life I am in awe of the fact that we float in a world of water as we grow and develop in our first home, our mother's womb. We are protected and sustained with water from creation to graduation. "Graduates", the word is used by a Monk I know from Berryville Virginia. He calls his deceased brothers "graduates", a very appropriate terminology I think, when we consider that death leads to another way of living.

So what is it about water that makes us so refreshed and increases our vitality? Maybe it is because we are made up of water.  Actually, 60 - 70% of our bodies are water. We have both intracellular (in our cells) and extracellular (outside our cells) water and the two are vital for keeping us alive and vital!

As human beings, we are, in a sense, beautiful bags of water. What we put into our mouths fills the bag with good water or bad! My point here is CLEAR; WATER and the minerals found in what we eat and drink directly affect the function of our cells. Think I am wrong? Don't have a cup of coffee in the morning, and see how you feel 30 min. later. The water is the carrier of the cooked coffee and its byproducts to your body. Have a glass of wine on an empty stomach. The water carries the grape products: alcohol, resveratrol. . To the entire group of cells called you.

It has been stated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This number is not far off when you look at the amount of fluids we drink and the summer temperatures. Unfortunately dehydration is often misinterpreted by the brain as hunger. A study performed at the University of Washington showed that one glass of water will shut down late night hunger pangs by nearly 100% of those studied.

Fatigue can easily occur in dehydration. This has been proven over and over again in athletes, but we often forget that even in the office setting low water equates to low productivity. That sluggish feeling we all have at 11:00 and 3:00 is due in part to dehydration. A mere drop in body water by 2% can lead to basic math errors and short-term memory lapses. Test this yourself, have a glass of water or Gatorade at 10:30 and 2:30 and see how much better you can function 11:00 and 3:00.

By the way the reason the most popular sports drink is called Gatorade is that its origin came from the University of Florida sports programs. They found water alone wasn't enough to keep their athletes rolling so they started adding salts, minerals and some carbohydrates. Novel idea.. water with sustaining body nutrients and fast energy. If I could change the formula slightly I would add protein and touch of fat to finish off the drink and really give the body a good balance. Oh yeah that's right, those Tour De France riders are always eating some energy bar - protein/fat/carbohydrate - with their water. I guess I am late with the ideas again. (PS. I hate that!)

The recommendation I give my patients is simple. You need 8 glasses of water a day, just for maintenance. That is right, 8 glasses! Now, think about every time you feel fatigued and want a snack - always start with a glass of water. Coffee doesn't count as one glass. In fact if you drink a cup of coffee a day you must add an extra glass of water. Coffee leads us to the water recycling room just like beer. So, that joke about having a tiny winy bladder comes from coffee in the morning and not just beer at night. Add a glass of water for every glass of spirit, be it coffee or beer.

Remember that it is crucial to take some healthy food along with your water so the body keeps balanced with salts and minerals. I like the 40/30/30 mix offered by Dr. Barry Sears and the Zone diet. 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, 30% protein. This mix will give you foods that contain the minerals you need. If there is any question then add a little Gatorade or Mineral Sobe water to the mix (1 or 2 glasses a day is Ok - just keep an eye on the carbohydrates in the fruitier forms.) Sports drinks in general have an excess of sugar carbs or artificial sweetener, so again, keep these as a minimal supplement unless you're in the Tour.

Is the water we drink from the tap or well safe? The answer is varied, we know that in general the water from our faucets in America is highly treated and chlorinated. The long terms effect are acceptable in most parts of the country. I emphasize to patients that bottled water is ideal but not absolute. In Buffalo Springs the spring water has lithium in it that people drink for their gout issues and it helps. My point is that spring water like faucet water has minerals dissolved in the water. Balancing your water, like balancing your food, is the ideal. A little Buffalo Springs water is OK - but not all the time. Keep a filtered water container in the frig and use this as your main source.

We can live without food for weeks but without water only a few days. I have said we are what we eat, but really we are what we drink .... 70% water. There are reasons we are Baptized in water. Water truly is the both the source and the substance of all life!

Be Blessed,
Dr Denton

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Dr Denton D. Weiss, M.D. is board certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Weiss' approach to his medical practice flows from his convictions about the meaning of life which are deeply rooted in his Catholic Faith. He and his wife Michelle strive for an integrated approach to life which recognizes the unity of the body, mind and soul. They call this approach "Bella Vitae" or "Beautiful Living". He and Michelle are contributing writers to Catholic Online.

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