The most precious gift of nature is Water. For all the living things on earth it is the most essential component. One of the essential nutrients is water. Though not a food, it carries nutrients throughout the body. Water holds much more importance than food because a human being may live a few weeks without food but only days without water.
Versatality is the most important property of water. Both inside and outside the body water can be effectively used. Liquid, solid or steam any three forms of water can be used according to the need. It can be used hot, cold or lukewarm, depending on the need.
The largest constituent of human body is water. About 60 to 70 per cent of the total body weight consists of water. Thus, the body of a 65-kg person contains approximately 40 litres of water. Of this, about 25 litres are within the cells and the remaining 15 litres in the extra cellular fluids.
For the smooth functioning of all the body processes, water is an essential component. It helps the absorption the food materials through the intestinal tract. It keeps blood in a liquid state thus enabling easy circulation even in the tiniest blood vessels. Water maintains body temperature constantly at 98.4 F in all weathers and keeps the skin moist and cold. It helps to secret different fluids in various glands of the body and always keeps the mucus membrane moist.
Water in the form of urine helps the kidneys to remove unwanted body waste like urea and salt. It also helps removal of body wastes through lungs as water vapour, through skin as perspiration and sweat and, to a small extent, through the large intestine as faeces. It is estimated that as much as 37 gallons of fluids are daily filtered off from the blood and restored to the body by the kidneys, only when there is proper proportion of water in the blood.
The water consumption is mainly through drinking water, other fluids and the water content in the food consumed. Some of our common vegetables contain as much water as milk and even more. Thus, 100 grams of melon, tomato, and radish contain over 90 per cent of water against only 87 per cent of water contained jn milk. Besides taking water through drink and in foods, the body itself generates water by the combustion going on in the system.
The rate at which water is eliminated from the body must be replaced by its intake so as to maintain the balance in the system. On occasions, water content of the body suffers considerable fluctuation. Running and other strenuous exercises cause a great loss by perspiration and through the lungs. This loss has to be replaced by a drink or food.
Any great variation in the normal quantity of water in the body interferes with the vital processes and causes acute distress. Death may occur within three days of abstention from water. Loss of water takes place, no matter whether we drink or not. So if we do not drink sufficient water, blood thickens and the kidneys fail to deal with it efficiently. This may result in the accumulation of poisons and lead to death. Some persons unconsciously form a habit of living on less than optimum quantity of water. This may lead to ill heath and symptoms like headache, nervousness, loss of appetite, of appetite, digestive disturbances and lack of concentration in work. These symptoms will rapidly disappear with proper intake of water.
For the maintenance of good health, an adult should take eight to 10 glasses of pure, fresh water daily, whether one feels thirsty or not. This quantity is enough to flush the body and meet all internal needs. However, it is bad to drink excess of water since it weakens the kidneys and stomach.
Drinking water along with meals is not healthy, for it dilutes the gastric juices and hampers digestion. Water should be drunk ha an hour before or one hour after a meal. Drinking a glass of water early in the morning after a mouthwash, is good for health. It stomach disorders and constipation. Scientifically, drinking water early in the morning helps, saliva formation which together with some useful enzymes helps in effective cleaning of the intestinal tract. The age old practice of drinking water in copper vessel early morning is one of the oldest methods with the same principle.
Invisible perspiration carries noxious substances with it and while the water evaporates, the poisonous substances remain on the surface of the skin, sometimes on the pores themselves. A bath is very necessary not only to wash off these poisonous matter from the skin, but also for keeping the skin in a healthy condition. Cold water or water at body temperature should be used for bathing. The application of cold water followed by friction facilitates rush of blood to the skin. This gives the skin its necessary exercise and keeps it healthy and capable of normal functioning for the rest of the day.
Any water, however, is not good. Water used for drinking, cooking and bathing should be free from bacteria, dissolved mineral impurities and suspended matters. Rain water is best for drinking purpose. However, purified water from a river, spring, well or a lake is equally good. The clear water must be further treated. If the water is from open sources like river or large over-flooded tanks, there is always the risk of it being contaminated by bacteria of diseases like dysentry, typhoid and cholera. In such a case, water should be rendered harmless by boiling. Constant use of hard water for drinking may cause stomach disorders. It is therefore necessary to remove hardness by boiling.