Clean drinking water – The Forgotten Beverage – Water And Colitis
“What’ll you have?” (meaning of course what will you have to drink) is what the lawyers call a leading question. It implies an element of uncertainty as well as invitation. This assumption, however, is scarcely justified by the facts because, nine times out of ten, while there may be an element of uncertainty as to what you are going to have to drink there is definitely no uncertainty as to what you are not going to have—namely, clean drinking water!
In these days when much is said of the forgotten man we can just as appropriately speak of the forgotten beverage—and mean clean drinking water! Yes, just the plain drinking water which was formerly so highly esteemed as a means of quenching thirst. Nowadays the glory of Adam’s ale is deceased and by many the substance is regarded solely as something to wash in.
I trust you will bear with me in a brief eulogy in memory of the departed. I seek to say no unkind things about modern-day thirst quenchers but rather to recall to mind some of the virtues for which clean drinking water was highly esteemed in those days when good pure water was appreciated as the true lake of life. By the way, have you ever been in the country? Ever seen a lake? Have you looked into its clear, cool depths and reveled in the crystal lucidity? Or have you tasted of its fresh clean water on some hot summer’s day, and said to yourself, “After all, the best drink is water.”
You can tell a lake from a pond, of course! I would not even mention the pond, with its stagnant, turbid waters, were it not to show a comparison—a simple, illustrative comparison between the dynamic, ever-changing waters of the clear, clean lake and that murky lump of moisture, the pond.
What makes the difference? Your boy or girl at school can tell you. A pond has only an inlet: the water that drains into it cannot escape. It is stagnant. It soon reflects its stagnant nature in the quality of its water.
A lake, however, has both an inlet and an outlet. Water flows in, and water flows out. The water in the lake is ever changing, ever clean, ever sweet. In proportion to the rapidity with which the change occurs, just so great will its clearness and cleanness be! We might take a lesson from this for our own lives, because the body you live in—your body—is to you a lake, the lake of life! Your body is eighty percent water. If this were not so, the food you eat could not be digested because the digestive juices cannot act except in solution.
Only last year Dr. Clive McCay of Cornell University gave to the New York State Nutrition Institute ten rules for good nutrition. The first of these was drink plenty of water. His good counsel should be heeded, for it is based on solid fact. Without adequate water the food could not be assimilated even if predigested because, unless the nutrients are placed in solution they cannot be transported to the various parts of the body. Unless there is water, there can be no blood, because the blood itself is ninety percent water. And if there were no blood, then the waste materials now in your body would pile up until they choked every living cell within the body. That, of course, would mean your demise.
Daily we drink water; daily we excrete water. We have but one intake, unfortunately for us. That intake is through the mouth. But we excrete water through the lungs, the kidneys, the skin surface, and, to some extent, through the intestines. Thus we have four avenues of escape. This might be an indication that we ought to drink four times as much water as we do!
A man can live without food for forty days, but without water his time would be short and terrible. We need water in the air we breathe; we need water in the food we eat; we need water all the time. If we were completely shut off from it at once, we would die within a few hours. But death, and the indispositions preliminary to death, can be taken the slow way, too. One need not stop taking all water; just cut down on it little by little, and the eventual result will be just the same—that is, disorder, disease, and death—all for the want of water!
How the very cells, inarticulate, must yearn to cry out in their muteness for that blessed drop of moisture that would make their life easier! And how cruel are we as human beings when, in response to normal thirst, we take an alcoholic beverage that further robs the cells of what little water they have—water they can little afford to lose.
Finally, after a long time of inattention to the normal thirst, we cease to recognize it, and construe it as something else—the desire for a smoke. How many people realize that the desire for a smoke is merely a perverted desire for a drink of water?
The body cells cry out for something, and the mind knows that something is wanted; but instead of yielding to the normal response that has long since been abolished by drinking a glass of water, the average person, hypnotized by cigarette advertisements, reaches for a cigarette. Thus does he make a smoked herring of every living cell in his body cells that are merely crying out for enough water to keep their protoplasm in a normal mobile state.
How many of us realize how quickly we would perish if we were deprived of water? Within two to three days, even the strongest of us would have died a miserable death. If such terrible consequences ensue from complete deprivation of water, it does seem reasonable to assume that the lack of sufficient water supply would have marked, even if less terrible, effects. As a matter of fact, we know that lack of sufficient water supply in the body leads to irritation of the kidneys and may also lead to vomiting and diarrhea because of impaired absorption of food from the intestine.
Always bear in mind that water is the most important factor in the nourishment of the body. Every food we take must be dissolved in water before it can be absorbed and before it can be carried to the various cells of the body. Then, too, the waste products of the body could never be removed if there were not sufficient water in the blood to permit their solution and transportation to the kidneys, the lungs, and the skin.
You can very readily understand then, from a physical standpoint, that water is necessary in promoting the interchange of the various food and waste elements. It is equally important in furthering needed chemical changes within the body cells themselves.
Moreover, water has a most important influence in maintaining the body temperature throughout the day and throughout the seasons, since it is by evaporation of water from the lungs and skin that we either cool the temperature of the body in hot weather or elevate it in cold weather.
If we were normal people (or when we allow ourselves to be normal) thirst would give us a definite gauge of our water needs. If this instinct were left free and allowed to prevail unhampered, we would not need a rule about taking eight glasses of water a day—or any other particular quantity. Your thirst would be your sole and true guide.
However, the majority of us do not permit this instinct to function unhampered. Indeed, we have grown so indifferent to the sensation that, instead of satisfying the normal urge with a drink of water, we reach for a cigarette and temporarily stay the desire.
If we regard alcoholic beverages as the answer to thirst, we merely add fuel to the fire. Alcohol, abstracts water from the tissues and actually increases the thirst feeling. If this increased desire is met by more alcohol, the process cannot go on ad infinitum but does usually proceed ad nauseam.
You will be surprised to see how quickly you can break yourself of an excessive cigarette habit if, every time you feel a desire for a smoke, you take a full glass of water. The longing, or what you thought was an irresistible craving for a cigarette, will be satisfied by the water, and the real desire that it represents—the thirst of dry tissues—will be quenched. Your health will be immeasurably improved and you will be rid of what, at best, is only a tolerable bad habit.
Of course, you may come to the conclusion that if you drink as much water as the above rule calls for, you may run the risk of rusting the interior plumbing with so much liquid or, in other words, actually harm yourself by an overdose of water. Let me reassure you: such a result is hardly possible. If the body cannot utilize the excess amount of water you drink, it promptly excretes it. In doing so, much waste material will be carried away with the water.
While you may be furnishing the body with water beyond its actual requirements, at least be generous enough to give it the chance to refuse that fluid. So far as your health is concerned, giving the body too much water is greatly to be preferred to depriving it of a sufficient supply by denying, by the use of tobacco, the natural impulse to drink.
Water may be taken with meals in moderate quantities, providing that it is not used to “wash down” unchewed morsels of food. It should not be taken in such a great quantity that it smothers the normal appetite. In other words, in this, as in all other matters, moderation should be the watchword.
Whatever objection there may be to drinking water at mealtime has no relevance to drinking water between meals. I do feel it would be a very healthful habit for everyone to set aside a certain time in the forenoon and in the afternoon, say 10:30 A.M. and 3:30 P.M., to be utilized for drinking water, perhaps two glasses.
If I gave you two small pink pills to take at those precise hours, and instructed you to be sure to drink two full glasses of water after them, inasmuch as they were very powerful, and therefore required considerable dilution in order to avoid harmful effects, you would probably take the water religiously, even if the pills were actually only sugar of milk tablets.
This method was used many years ago when people were less well informed on health matters and perhaps less intelligent, but I am sure that nowadays we need no such childish artifice. Knowing water to be beneficial to you should be sufficient stimulus to action, and you may rest assured that every drink (of water) you take will be truly à votre santé!
Dehydration is a big word meaning all dried out. Any person with colitis and its accompanying diarrhea may have from five to fifteen bowel movements a day most of them watery in character. You may take my word for it that they know what it means to be dehydrated without consulting a dictionary. Yes, it is a big word, but to victims of colitis dehydration is an even bigger problem. It can be greatly simplified by constant replenishment through drinking bearing in mind that the temperature of drinking water should be at all times such as not unduly to stimulate intestinal movements. To repeat, it must not be cold nor, on the other hand, too hot.
Usually water drawn from the faucet is not cold enough to cause cramps. A little judicious experimentation will enable you to determine the temperature of water which is best suited to your particular need. Never forget that bread may be the staff of life, but water is life itself!
Taking sufficient water is important to sufferers from colitis in any of its forms. It certainly will not be denied that in cases of diarrhea much fluid substance is lost from the body. Naturally, this water must be replaced, since the amount that can be kept in reserve in the body is necessarily limited. If the sufferer from colitis, therefore, does not take sufficient water, he adds another complication to his already distressing condition. Not only in colitis, but in other disturbances of the food digestion canal, sufficient water intake is very important.
It should be borne in mind that the same derangement of the sympathetic and other parts of the internal nervous system that brought about colitis has a very definite effect upon the excretion of water. No doubt, there has been a time when you have been impressed by this fact. Excitement and nervous strain bring on increased frequency of urination. Many children, and some adults too, have to urinate as soon as they become nervous.
There should therefore be no doubt as to the fact that this emotional disturbance, acting through the sympathetic nervous system and the internal nervous system, brings about increased excretion of water from the tissues. That, too, of course, is why many people, when they are excited, try to calm themselves by taking a drink of water.
Indeed, thirst is a very good sign that more water is needed in the system. When permitted to assert itself normally, it is even more dependable than the hunger sensation. When, however, a normal thirst, as explained elsewhere, is perverted into a desire for a smoke, very naturally the body that craves water and gets smoke is not satisfied. Nor is the pressing problem of normal physiological function in the body aided in any degree.
Here are several suggestions about water drinking. It is a simple matter to determine whether or not you are taking sufficient water to meet the needs of your body. Though it is not scientifically accurate, inspecting the urine provides a fair gauge. If it is the color of water, it may be safely assumed that sufficient water has been taken. When, however, it becomes dark and heavy, it is quite obvious that the urine is too concentrated and that more water should be taken.
In these days when a urine analysis is a comparatively simple procedure that any drugstore can provide, one should have the examination done just to determine whether the specific gravity of bis urine is within normal range. In lieu of the actual examination, the observations I have suggested constitute a workable crude substitute.
Water must be cool to be palatable, but this is no justification of the great American ice-water habit. If you have ever eaten ice cream too quickly, you know the painful cold sensation you get in the back of your throat or in the front part of your forehead. This is due to a temporary spasm of the muscles of the throat and esophagus. The same thing can occur in the stomach. As a matter of fact, particularly when a person has fever or is overheated because of climatic conditions, acute dilatation of the stomach may actually occur.
Of course, these are dire circumstances and extreme cases. In all cases, however, the taking of large quantities of ice water or ice cream definitely slows down the digestion that would normally take place in the stomach and upper intestines. This is undesirable, for it causes the passage into the lower intestines of a large amount of undigested material. This, of course, means that the material never gets a chance to become digested; instead, bacterial action is greatly increased, much to the detriment of the host.
If one does take cool drinks or ice cream or sherbet during the course of the meal, he should take the precaution of holding it in his mouth long enough at least to take the chill off the food. In this way he can safeguard himself against the harmful effects of excessive cold. Also, the quantity taken should be limited to a moderate amount and should be eaten slowly, since a large amount of iced food will have a very disturbing effect.
Drinking a quantity of water immediately before retiring is not desirable because it is likely to overload the bladder and compel its evacuation before the accustomed morning hour. For those who are troubled in this way, the strict limitation of fluids after six o’clock in the evening is often a curative measure.
Many a case of “nervousness,” demanding the emptying of the bladder several times during the night, has been traced to nothing more deep-seated than a habit of taking in two or three half pints of fluid, alcoholic or otherwise, just before retiring. Ginger ale is a particular offender in this regard. All those with a tendency to the above mentioned complaint should avoid it rigorously. No doubt you have heard of somebody who went crazy from drink. The crazy colon got that way for want of a drink—water! Written By: J. F. Montague, M.D., Continue Reading: Colitis in Children