Our culture views water as a bland, unexciting liquid in which we bathe and play. Too many misguided “experts,” including doctors, tell us that ingesting water isn’t important, and that any other liquid is a valid substitute. Because of this, we can be fooled into making lifestyle choices that almost guarantee our bodies will become dehydrated.
Fads, trends, peer pressure and “ad speak” can sway us into believing we are doing the right thing for our health. Based on these self-serving influences, we can do our body great harm by depleting it of the necessary water and minerals to keep it healthy.
With water being 75 percent of our overall body, our clear choice should be for maintaining a high level of it. Operating a human body without enough water is like running a race with only one shoe on. It can be done, but it’s painful, throws the body out of balance, and it’s for sure you’re not going to come out a winner.
The following are some temptations that can lead to a constantly low water level called chronic dehydration.
The Outdoors Is Calling
Many of us have a low tolerance for confinement in buildings, so fresh air and sunshine can be an irresistible combination. That is why we love being outdoors engaging in physical activity. Some of us work in the outdoors, including forest fire fighters, roofers, road constructors, Mid-East military soldiers, landscapers and the like. And some of us enjoy office jobs, but are devoted weekend cycle riders, runners, and hikers in the great outdoors.
However, working and playing hard in the heat do have consequences. Dry summer air blowing against bare skin dries it out, so that water has to be constantly replaced. The same can be said for breathing dry air into moist lungs and then exhaling water out with the breath. And the temperature, past 100 degrees for weeks in many parts of the country during the summer, makes us sweat profusely, which rapidly depletes water and salt. Unlike the camel with its built in water tank, humans have only a drought priority system when dry—water is removed from less critical tissues and transported to the vital organs.
A lot of us know we have to drink copious amounts of water when constantly under the dehydrating summer sun. What we may not know is that we must also take salt to replace the salt lost in perspiration. The human body is designed to maintain a water/salt balance. When it gets low on water, the body flushes salt to keep the proper ratio between the two. So even though water is then ingested, without salt, the water will not help the tissues. So when you put that water bottle in your backpack or lunch box, be sure you also have salt.
Processed Foods Simplify Life
Multi-tasking, second job, motherhood and career, volunteering, wanting it all and not prioritizing; there aren’t enough hours in a day. Cooking is time consuming, so processed/packaged food often becomes the answer. Being pre-cooked, it takes just minutes to reheat and serve. Even children can prepare dinner.
A processed/packaged food has gone through chemical, mechanical or physical change. This includes food that has been frozen, pasteurized, fried, condensed, dried, dehydrated, canned or homogenized. The main hydration mineral lost is potassium. While salt keeps water around our cells, potassium is necessary to keep it inside our cells.
Unless the water is used as broth, boiling food is a sure way to lose the potassium in it. Freezing also depletes potassium. Except for Vitamin C and some B Vitamins, baking, broiling and stir frying are methods that preserve the potassium.
Our taste buds have become so enamored with sugar and salt that we have forgotten to enjoy the natural raw flavor of our fruits and vegetables. A fresh tomato, home-grown and vine-ripened. The sweetness of a ripe watermelon. Tangy apples from the tree in your backyard. The red peppers from the neighbor’s garden. Fantabulous!
In the raw state, food delivers the most nutrients, including potassium, and is therefore healthiest providing it is not contaminated with germs. We import a lot of food from other countries where hygiene is not strict. Because this food is shipped great distances, it is exposed to many germ sources.
Periodically there are product recalls because some food has been contaminated with E-coli or Salmonella bacteria, for instance. Besides nausea, diarrhea becomes a lethal problem as the body tries to wash the bacteria out of the intestines. So, water is taken from body tissues faster than you may want to drink water to replace it. World travelers and soldiers based out of the country are also prone to diarrhea and its dehydrating effects on the body. These last two examples usually have their food prepared by someone else. But when you prepare your own food, you can negate the bacteria.
Bacteria can be killed by rinsing or soaking produce in vinegar OR bleach solutions. A mixture of three cups of water with one cup of white vinegar (a three to one ratio) can be sprayed on individual fruits before rinsing with clear water. Or soaking food in one gallon of water with one tablespoon of chlorine bleach for a few minutes will thoroughly kill surface bacteria. Then rinse off the bleach. Be advised that more is not better. Do not use more bleach than prescribed. And never, ever mix vinegar and bleach because the bleach then becomes highly toxic.
It requires minimal time to broil or stir fry some protein and add some raw vegetables and fruit for a savory meal packed full of intact nutrients and potassium.
Seeking that Taste Buzz
Sea salt is produced by evaporating sea water. Rock salt got is name because it is mined from the earth and is the residual of dried land-locked lakes and seas. Both are labeled by science as sodium chloride.
Since mankind began using salt well before written history, no one knows for sure when it came into use, but it has been a survivor staple for thousands of years. Salt played an important role in all civilizations because it could preserve food over winters. Due to this, explorers could carry preserved food with them for longer and farther excursions into the unknown. It also preserved the Egyptian mummies’ bodies for the next life. At times, salt has been worth more than gold.
The human tongue has a small variety of taste receptors. The tongue craves sweetness because it denotes ripe fruit. Sourness can be an alarm about spoiled food. Bitterness can warn us about poisonous substances. And we yearn for salt because it’s an essential compound for basic body function, i.e. hydration.
Cooks in the food processors’ kitchens capitalize on our salt craving. For example, the Cheez-It cracker from Kellogg has salt on the exterior to give the tongue a quick buzz and more salt in the cheese adds crunch. Still more in the dough blocks the tang that develops during fermentation and rising. A generous cup of Cheez-Its delivers 1/3 the daily salt recommendation.
As a demonstration of the important role of salt, Kellogg prepared Cheez-It with most of its salt removed. The golden yellow hue faded in intensity. The cracker became sticky when chewed and packed between the teeth. The taste became bland and even medicinal. Without salt, corn flakes taste metallic, Eggo waffles taste like stale straw. The buttery flavor of buttery crackers simply disappears. Not only do we crave salt, but it makes other things taste and feel better. Or so we think.
While so much of the body is actually water, it is up to salt and potassium to make sure the water is distributed properly. Potassium inside each body cell keeps the water inside it. Salt in the spaces around the cells keeps the water in that area. When the water around the cells contains too much salt, the water inside the cells is drawn outside to that salt so the water to salt ratio becomes more normal. This is the way the cells that make up our tissues and organs are robbed of water and begin to decline in health and efficiency.
We rely far too much on what our taste buds tell us and not enough on the subtler messages from our bodies that warn we’ve had too much salt. This signal is tissue edema/swelling caused by the interior cell water moving to the outside to dilute the water between the cells. Human health relies on a very delicate balance between water, salt and potassium. With too much salt that balance is destroyed.
The World Health Organization recommends less than 2,000 mg salt per day, and The American Heart Association says limit it to 1,500 mg. So the best way to avoid too much of it is to toss out just about everything in the cupboard that is in a package or can since they contain so much sodium. A can of Campbell’s Chicken with Herbs soup delivers 810 mg. Hamburger Helper promises 580 to 810 mg per serving. Eating at home is a viable idea since fast foods generally contain excess salt too. Chili’s Restaurant’s Chicken Club Tacos gives you 4,770 mg and Burger King’s Tender Crisp Garden Salad sports 1,740 mg. The healthiest food is perishable (fresh) and is stored in the refrigerator.
There is a lot of information written by psychologists and spiritualists about regaining power over our lives. It could very well be that taking control of one’s food supply benefits not only the psyche and soul, but the very basis of our physical well being.
Next month’s article will provide more lifestyle choices that lead to chronic dehydration.
7. pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-963/ FAPC-116web.pdf
12. Batmanghelidj, F., M.D. ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus. Global Health Solutions, 2000.
JeanAnn is a free-lance writer for health and metaphysics. “Heal Yourself for Real,” plus three more e-books are available at Amazon. com and Barnes&Noble.com. She also does handwriting analysis and numerology. JeanAnn’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
* This article was reprinted with the author’s permission.