When you're thirsty, is there anything more satisfying than a glass of crystal clear water? It's a rare experience these days to drink pure, unadulterated water, but if you do happen upon this experience, as I did on a trip into the mountains of Croatia a couple of years ago, there's nothing a human can make that can compare. Even though flavorless, the feeling it gave me as I drank that elixir that tumbled over rocks in a mountain stream left me feeling satisfied and refreshed. If I'm feeling tired or drained, there's nothing that cleanses my spirit quite like sitting or walking by a moving river or stream. The negative ions produced by the movement of water purify the air and have a beneficial impact on mood and health.
Our Bodies' Need for Water
Water plays an important role in virtually every bodily function. It bathes the cells, organs and joints, regulates body temperature, detoxifies the body by carrying waste out of the system, delivers nutrients from our foods through the bloodstream to nourish all the tissues and organs. This is but a few of water's myriad functions in the human body. Although the body is predominantly composed of water and all day long we drink tea, coffee and sodas, the reality is most humans are chronically dehydrated. Our bodies are constantly losing water through perspiration, urination and even the simple act of exhaling, which releases water vapor. This loss is increased with exercise and being exposed to warmer temperatures, so our need for water intake increases too.
There are also many environmental factors that increase our need for water, such as pollutants that need to be detoxified from our bodies and indoor heating and air conditioning that can further dehydrate our bodies. For many of us, our dietary habits also play a role in causing dehydration. Overuse of salt, especially adding salt to our foods at the table, can deplete the body cells of water. Not all beverages actually quench our thirst—many of them are laden with artificial sweeteners, chemicals, dyes and preservatives that cause all sorts of health problems and increase our bodies' need for water to detoxify our system. Drinks containing caffeine can also put stress on the kidneys, which are vital for maintaining water balance in the body.
Not Just Any Water
The first time I saw water flowing from a tap was when I was about 7 years old and we got plumbing in our home for the first time. I was fascinated. I spent most of my day flushing the toilet and watching the cistern be refilled with water. Up until then, our toilet was an outhouse and our drinking water came from the well down the road or from a pump, which was a bit of a walk from our home. We collected the rainwater in a barrel outside our house, and this was used mainly for bathing and for rinsing our hair. To this day, I know my granny would turn in her grave if she saw the copious amounts of water we "waste" in our daily showers, not to mention the amount of times we flush the toilet.
In those days, we knew nothing of "bottled water"—water was something that flowed from natural sources, and there was no question as to whether it was fit for drinking. The ownership of water is a fairly recent phenomenon, and now we have so many "brands" of water on the market—it's become a multinational business. We bottle it and ship it far and wide. We purify it, sanitize it, ionize it, alkalize it. We offer purity from places like Fiji or Hawaii to be savored in a plastic bottle worldwide. Even the stuff that comes from our taps has been treated with chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride. Much of our tap water has a taste and a smell that is uncharacteristic for such a naturally pure substance.
When and why you should drink water