How Much Is Enough?

by Garnet McPherson Director Canadian Natural Health Association

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Water is the human body's most important nutrient. Most adult bodies contain 10-12 gallons of water and on a typical day, the average adult loses about 10 cups of water just through perspiration, breathing and elimination.

As early as 400 BC, Hippocrates, the "Father of Medicine," recommended drinking large amounts of water to reduce the recurrence of kidney stones. It would seem he was definitely on to something.

Today, most health care professionals would agree, that drinking large amounts of water each day is good for you. It's not only one of the best ways to prevent kidney stones; it's instrumental in promoting your overall good health. Water is an important component of just about every function that takes place within your body.

Drinking enough water allows your body to eliminate toxins and waste products, helps regulate body temperature, helps transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, cushions joints and protects body organs and tissues, helps to maintain proper muscle tone, promotes growth and healing and helps digest food.

It's easy to take this tasteless liquid for granted, but if your body isn't properly hydrated, it's exposed to a variety of health risks. If you don't drink enough water, cells pull water from your bloodstream, which causes your heart to work harder. If you don't drink enough water, your kidneys can't properly purify your blood causing toxicity that stresses your immune system. Additionally, if you don't drink enough water you can develop a number of minor health conditions, such as constipation, dry and itchy skin, acne, nosebleeds, urinary tract infections, coughs, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches. But it does not stop there…Perhaps we should reflect on the recent research and insights on how water consumption effect our health.

75% of North Americans are chronically dehydrated. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a U-Washington study. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Are you drinking the amount of water you should every day?

So how much water is enough? In the past it was suggested that everyone should drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day to stay fully hydrated. While that's a good start, even this amount may not be enough for optimum health. The minimum amount of water you need, depends on your body weight. A more accurate calculation, is to drink an ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight. For example, a 140-pound person needs a minimum of 70 ounces of water each day. It's easy to see that the old rule of drinking eight 8-oz. glasses of water - accurate for someone who weighs 128 pounds -- falls short of what many of us need.

Remember the first step to good health is drinking plenty of clean water. Now you know how much you need, we will talk about how to make sure the water you are drinking is pure!

Garnet McPherson is the director of the Canadian Natural Health Association as well as the Green Planet Foundation. He works as an environmental health consultant and can be reached through Earth Walk at 905-355-3000.

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