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 Building Blocks of Nutrition: Water 
Water is the medium in which all other nutrients are found. Three simple molecules, two hydrogen and one oxygen, bind together to form each molecule of water, the most abundant and important substance on Earth and in the human body. Pure water does not exist naturally on our planet; water is the universal solvent, and most other substances present on Earth dissolve in it to different degrees. The earth’s natural water varies in mineral content, as does the water found within our bodies.

Our bodies are at least 60 percent water. It is the primary component of all the bodily fluids—blood, lymph, digestive juices, urine, tears, and sweat. Water is involved in almost every bodily function: circulation, digestion, absorption, and elimination of wastes, to name a few. Water carries the electrolytes, mineral salts that help convey electrical currents in the body; the major minerals that make up these salts are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. Water requirements vary greatly from person to person. The climate in which we live, our activity level, and our diet all influence our need for water.

Water is fundamental to all life on Earth. Without clean water we cannot experience optimum health. Awareness of the urgent need to address the issue of water pollution is growing. Subsequently, healing our waters and providing safe and tasty drinking water are becoming a major industry—filtered water systems, international spring waters, designer water, flavored waters, juice waters, and more.

Recognizing the importance of clean water, I wrote this chapter to offer you a synergistic collation of the most current, usable information; however, I am aware that it is not the final word. Much water information is purported as "fact" by business interests, yet scientific study is lacking. Surely this will change, so look for upcoming data on this crucial subject.

Since water is an essential part of our basic life needs—life force if you will—we could spend more energy and dollars researching how to keep it safe for human consumption. My concern is that our governments will wait too long to correct our current water problems, much like modern Western medicine focuses on end-stage disease over preventive medicine. Keeping people well and learning more about the factors that affect this goal, such as the chemicals in our environment, deserve a great deal more attention. Healing and maintaining Earth’s environment, keeping our basic elements—water, air, and food—clean and wholesome, is a good place to start!

Drinking water has become an issue of concern. In all too many cases it has been shown that tap water is not totally safe. We need to ask what role drinking tap water plays in our health. What is its subtle effect on biochemical processes in our body, and what is its relationship to symptoms of illness or chronic disease? Not enough research has come out to date showing how tap water and its contents influence our health. Many cities’ water has a high sodium level, which has been correlated with an increased ikelihood of high blood pressure and subsequent cardiovascular disease. Soft water, in which a high level of sodium has replaced biologically important minerals such as calcium and magnesium, has also been implicated in reducing our resistance to heart disease.

With the trend toward using pure and natural products in personal health care, city tap water has come to be considered a processed, unnatural substance, containing potentially hazardous chemical additives. No wonder bottled water has become a huge industry in the last decade! For the most part, city water is heavily chlorinated to kill germs, fluoridated to prevent tooth decay, and some cities add calcium hydroxide or other alkaline substances to change the pH (acidity) of the water so it does not corrode pipes. Chlorine and other additives used to treat water can react with other organic chemicals to produce chlorinated hydrocarbons that may act as carcinogens. For example, the chloramines including chloroform and other trihalomethanes, are formed in water from chlorine and organic matter such as ammonia or decaying leaves. Water pipes may contribute chemicals or metals such as copper or lead.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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