Water Nutrition
The Foundation of Good Health
by Nancy Hearn

water splash and fresh food

In humans, water nutrition is fundamental to our health and life. Water is composed primarily of hydrogen and oxygen, and in most adults, 60 to 70 percent of our body weight is water.

Human beings can survive without food for up to forty days, but without water, our life would end in three to five days.

So what is the meaning of water nutrition?

According to the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary, nutrition is the “act or process of being nourished.” 

When we mention nutrition, most of us think of food. However, the beverages we drink are equally important for overall nutrition.

Clean water is, by far, the healthiest beverage to drink.

It is true that some of our body fluid needs can be obtained through other liquids and beverages, such as soup broths and juice.

We also get fluids from some fruits and vegetables that have high water content, such as melons, cucumbers, tomatoes and celery.  

However, most of the water our body needs must come from drinking water. No foods or beverages will replace the need for plain H2O in the body.

Water is not only fundamental to the process of nourishment in the human body, it is one of the essential nutrients. 

Water Helps with Food Nutrient Absorption

Water is not only critical as an essential nutrient itself, it aids in the transport and absorption of all other nutrients (including oxygen) into the cells.

Equally important, water helps remove metabolic waste and toxins from your cells and transports them through the pathways of detoxification.

If your cells are clogged with waste, far less nutrients will get through the cell membranes into the cells.

The nutrients we get from foods depend on water to help break down those foods into smaller units. 

Thus, according to Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, it is essential to drink water BEFORE we eat solid foods. Doing so will help prepare the digestive tract and provide adequate water for the entire process of nutrient absorption and waste elimination.

For optimum nutrient absorption and utilization, drink 8 to 16 ounces of clean, mineral-rich water about 30 minutes before a meal.

The amount of water you drink depends on your size, weight, and level of activity. You can read more here about how much water to drink.

After eating, it is best to wait at least an hour (preferably two) before drinking anything to allow the body to break down the foods.

Two hours or so after eating, the body will have used up most of its water reserves for breaking down food and will thus need more water. 

This is one of the reasons so many people feel that mid-afternoon slump after lunch – we need more water!  

Thus, before reaching for caffeine or sugar for a pick-me-up, try drinking 8 to 12 ounces of water then get up and move around.

Water's Functional Roles in the Body

Water also plays a dominant role in all physiological functions of the body. Just to name a few:

  • Body temperature regulation
  • Transfer and absorption of nutrients 
  • Transport and removal of waste
  • Brain function and hormonal balance
  • Blood and lymph flow
  • Cushioning of the spine and joints.

Dr. Batmanghelidj writes, “In order of importance, oxygen, water, salt, and potassium rank as the primary elements for the survival of the human body.”

Water, salt and potassium regulate the water content of the body.  

“The body’s water supply is responsible for and involved in nearly every bodily process, including digestion, absorption, circulation, and excretion. Water is also the primary transporter of nutrients throughout the body and so is necessary for all building functions in the body,” writes Phyllis A. Balch in Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

Even though most of us think of food as our primary source of energy, water is actually our main source of energy at the cellular level.

In fact, every cell in our body is like a mini-hydroelectric plant. Water, salt, potassium, calcium and magnesium are the key elements for energy regulation as fluid passes in and out of the cells. 

You can read more about the importance of cell water movement on this page.

Summary of Water Nutrition

While water nutrition is critical to health, the nutrients we get from food are obviously important also, as is the need for regular exercise or physical activity.

Over the past 40 years, I have explored and tried numerous health diets myself, including vegan, vegetarian, raw food, Ayurvedic, macrobiotic, Mediterranean, gluten-free, oil-free, and others. I have also helped many clients lose weight through customized healthy eating plans.

Even though my thoughts and beliefs have evolved over the years and may continue to change, there are some key elements of nutrition and healthy eating which I believe are universal and I will be sharing in an article series entitled “Healthy Food Nutrition.”


References

National Institutes of Health: Water in Diet; 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Water & Nutrition; 2014.


Further reading . . .

Healthy Food Nutrition - 8 Fundamental Basics

Paleo Diet Benefits and Drawbacks

Sunlight Nutrition - Biological Benefits of Sunlight to Human Health

Simple Food Combining - 5 Guidelines for Optimal Health

Dairy-Free Diet - 5 Key Reasons to Avoid Dairy Foods

Drinking and Eating Sugar - How This Epidemic Affects Our Health

The Rainbow Diet - 10 Daily Servings of Colorful Fruits and Vegetables

10 Summer Nutrition Tips - Key Nutrients from Sun, Air and Water

Fat Loss Nutrition - How to Improve Hormone Function

Side Effects of Gripe Water for Infants


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