Water is a source of life and healing. Scripture places great importance on water. It is called the pure element that will wash our souls clean (Hebrews 10:22), the healing revival for a thirsty land (Isaiah 44:3), and a serene place where God guides and heals our souls (Psalm 23:2). We’re told that God will fill us from His spring of life (Revelation 21:6), and that living water will be given to all who ask (John 7:38). With all this in mind, it isn’t hard to understand that the Creator made water a significant life source for His creation.
Water is the largest single component of our bodies, acting as a primary building block of our cells, and accounting for 60 percent of the human makeup, with some organs, such as the lungs, consisting of as much as 83 percent water.[i] Water is unique in that it is actually a liquefied crystal. It is essential for every function that our bodies conduct, from digestion to metabolic processes and organ operations, to energy production, to hormonal production and balance, and even to skin and reproduction health. Nearly everyone knows that the quantity of water we take in directly affects our health, however, the quality of that water we consume is just as important.
While many of us think we must try to drink all the water our body needs, we often overlook the fact that food has water in it as well. By eating proper amounts of fresh foods, we consume myriad micronutrients that are delivered to our bodies alongside quality hydration. Taking in water via food is healthier for a few reasons. First, water in our food carries vitamins and minerals to the bloodstream, which helps us better absorb the nutrients. Second, water in its natural source—such as in a tomato or a slice of watermelon—is clean and needs no filtration.
Besides the value of the actual hydration provided by water, its mineral profile directly influences our health as well. When well hydrated, the body is filled with minerals called electrolytes, which, aptly named, facilitate electrical conduction and communication between neural points. This is how the nervous system sends signals. Inadequate hydration or electrolyte levels can cause faulty communication within the body, producing fatigue, inflammation or sensations of pain, muscle weakness or cramping, dizziness, and even increased chances of illness.[ii]
Similarly, the enzymes in our digestive system are hydrolytic, meaning they require water in order to carry out the tasks of digestion. Dehydration can cause us to be unable to properly absorb nutritional intake. This in turn impedes our ability to convert nourishment into energy, effectively store and burn fat, and thus metabolize. As noted earlier, when the metabolic process is impeded, a cycle of other problems begins.
Water also helps detox the body and is vital for regulating temperature—with both processes taking place often through sweat. Likewise, water is the way our system expels toxins and waste through urination and defecation.
For those living in cities, ridding the body of toxins and wastes can be a particular concern, because metropolitan filtration systems often introduce highly toxic chemicals into the water. That’s because, first, many public water sources are piped through lead. Second, toxic elements such as chlorine, arsenic, radium, radon, nitrate, fluoride, manganese, uranium, and thorium are often found in municipal water supplies, with some, such as mercury, being detected less often…but it’s still possible.[iii] Exposure to hazardous chemicals such as these can cause brain damage in children, reproductive issues, nausea, seizures, and an increase in a variety or type of cancer.[iv]
Even more frightening for consumers of public water is that it often contains trace amounts of prescription drugs (including antibiotics and even birth control) and household chemicals. “In 2008 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) tested water in nine states across the country and found that 85 man-made chemicals, including some medications, were commonly slipping through municipal treatment systems and ending up in our tap water.”[v] As consumers dispose of these substances, the toxins often find their way into the public waterways, which creates a real filtration problem for the city infrastructure to deal with. The result is that as many as forty-six million Americans have contaminated water flowing into their kitchen and bathroom sinks as they cook and brush their teeth, and cascading across their skin as they shower each day.[vi] While many officials claim these numbers are so diminished we shouldn’t be worried, we disagree. In fact, experts also concede that they’re not sure of precisely what risk factors could be “stewing” in our public water supplies, stating that when trace amounts of unknown, various elements are mixed, the results are truly unforeseeable.[vii]
Think about this: If you drink water from the tap in the city, you are exposing your body to an unknown array of pharmaceuticals—along with known toxins such as arsenic, chloride, and radon—that are likely compromising your health. We strongly suggest that you invest in a water-filtration system and glass water bottles to avoid the BPA (Bisphenol A) and additional toxins carried into your water when stored in plastic), and begin to take your own water when you leave the house. I (Joe) use a Berkey, a gravity-fed water filter that has been proven successful in removing pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful sediments. Just this one change could make a huge difference in your overall health!
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In recent decades, salt has been openly blamed for causing hypertension, cardiovascular and arterial damage, and other imbalances and illness. However, salt is necessary for good health—and it’s the white table salt, not sea salt, that deserves censure. Regular white table salt—sodium chloride—is aptly named: sodium and chloride. It has significantly reduced beneficial properties and can contribute to health problems. While some of us are taking great pains to eliminate salt from our diets, the truth is, we may need to be salting more— but it’s the type of salt we need to change, not the amount.
Prepackaged foods are a particular concern; many are over-seasoned with the wrong type of salt. Use caution when purchasing salt advertised as “pink” or “Himalayan,” as many imported brands currently on the market are merely regular, iodized salt hiding behind the mask of food dye. On the other hand, healthy salts, such as real varieties of pink Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt, are vital to balance in the body’s systems on many levels. They help sustain hydration by providing more than eighty micronutrients such as calcium, potassium, and sodium.[viii] Because of their interaction with hydration and electrolytes, they diminish fluid retention and keeps muscles hydrated, which lessens muscle cramping.[ix] The minerals in sea salts replenish the adrenal glands with necessary sodium and potassium, and fight hypertension while improving skin health with anti-inflammatory agents. The salty taste activates the salivary enzyme amylase and initiates the release of hydrochloric acid within the stomach, helping along the breakdown of nutrition and the metabolizing of calories.[x] I (Joe) start my day with one-fourth of a teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt in about ten ounces of room-temperature water to bolster my adrenals and refresh my lymphatic system. However, we recommend that if you’re concerned about increasing your sodium levels, such as those on medications for cardiovascular conditions, consult a natural healthcare practitioner before starting any salt regimen.
Probiotics, as mentioned earlier, are bacterial or fungal microorganisms that, “during the fermentation process[,]…convert organic compounds—such as sugars and starch—into alcohol or acids”[xi] that serve as preservatives. However, these same agents, when introduced to the body, are known as probiotics, which deliver “good” bacteria to the gut help digestion and nutrient absorption. “Gut flora,” as we previously touched on, refers bacteria in the colon. These are vital to our immune system as well as our mental and psychological well-being. They also benefit the rest of our bodies in a number of ways science is even now still discovering. We’ll talk more about gut flora in the upcoming pages, but for now we’ll cover how eating fermented food benefits this population of small organisms in our intestines.
While there are beneficial bacteria in the gut, there are detrimental ones as well. When the gut has more bad bacteria (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth [SIBO]; Candidas) than good, a condition called dysbiosis sets in. This leads to many digestion issues, such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.[xii] Thus, keeping the gut balanced is a primary advantage of eating fermented foods via the repopulation of beneficial agents. Additionally, fermented foods are already partially broken down, making the gut’s job much easier and causing absorption of nutrients to be simpler for the body. One example of this is phytic acid, which often binds the iron and zinc found in some legumes, making it difficult for the body to take in these minerals. Through fermentation, this factor is diminished and the minerals are available for absorption.[xiii]
Fermented foods are also beneficial since the secondary exposure to germs on the food help the body build up antibodies. Similar to what we’ve said regarding local food, when we eats local, organically grown, fermented food loaded with these beneficial organisms, we are exposed to the local bacteria, which helps inoculate against the germs native to our area. Another important aspect of fermentation is found in the fiber itself. When fermented, fiber is in a predigested form, making it very easy on the digestive system. Not only is this fiber a great cleanser, but it is food for bacteria in the gut, providing a good ecological space in which this bacteria can grow. I (Joe) have found that kimchi, raw cheese, sauerkraut, and olives are great fermented foods to work into your diet to keep gut ecology strong.
The value of gut health to our overall wellness is frequently overlooked and underestimated. While we usually recognize the link between the gut and metabolism, many don’t know about connections that exist among our brain chemistry, moods, immune system, ability to fight inflammation, and balances in blood sugar, hormones, and other body chemicals. Gut health is covered at more length in Timebomb. For additional information on this issue, consider reading that book.
Gut flora, also known as microbiota, as we’ve touched on already, break down incoming nutrients and assure that the good ones are properly absorbed and waste is evacuated. The flora are thrown out of balance when we eat processed foods, take antibiotics, or otherwise expose ourselves to chemicals. The constitution of these organisms is vital for more than just digestion. When the colon remains clean, is regularly purged, and isn’t continually subjected to damaging food, it remains healthy. When the lining of the gut is compromised, a condition mentioned earlier called leaky-gut syndrome can ensue, which is the beginning of many other chronic illnesses (more on this later). When bacteria are not in balance, additional health risks include cognitive impairments (more on this also, in just a bit), increased inflammation, and gastrointestinal ailments such as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, diverticular conditions, and many cancers.
Healthy flora helps balance blood sugars, foster emotional and psychological well-being, and increase immunity as well as improve the absorption of nutrients and lower odds of the aforementioned diseases.
In 2018, the American Society for Microbiology published a study that looked at the microbiota of children at age two and compared it with their subsequent BMI (body mass index, a method for measuring body fat) at age twelve. This study selected from children who, at age two, were of similar body mass. The study revealed that while there was no specific indicator that a particular child would one day be obese other than markers found in microbiota, these distinctions existed. It was decided that findings may indicate future propensity toward obesity or an inclination to dietary preferences that would achieve the same result.[xiv] On this matter, Maggie Stanislawski, medical campus doctor at the University of Colorado Anschutz, stated: “Our study provides more evidence that the gut microbiota might be playing a role in later obesity.”[xv]
UP NEXT: WATERS, SALTS, AND MIRACLES FROM ABOVE—What’s Better Than Ponce de León’s Fountain Of Youth!
[i] “The Water in You: Water and the Human Body.” USGS Online. 2020. Retrieved March 6, 2020. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.
[ii] Meletis, Chris. “Hydration & Electrolytes…It Takes More Than Just Water for Proper Hydration.” Trace Minerals Online. 2020. Retrieved March 6, 2020. https://traceminerals.com/hydration-electrolytes-it-takes-more-than-just-water-for-proper-hydration/.
[iii] Bendix, Aria. “11 Terrifying Things That Could Be Lurking in Your Tap Water.” Business Insider. July 5, 2019. Retrieved March 6, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/toxic-chemicals-tap-drinking-water-2019-4#mercury-from-industrial-waste-sites-can-pollute-well-water-11.
[v] “Can Birth Control Hormones Be Filtered from the Water Supply?” Scientific American Online. July 28, 2009. Retrieved March 6, 2020. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/birth-control-in-water-supply/.
[vi] “Can Birth Control Hormones Be Filtered?” Retrieved March 6, 2020.
[viii] Choi, Jean. “8 Awesome Benefits of Sea Salt.” What Great Grandma Ate Online. May 15, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2020. https://whatgreatgrandmaate.com/8-awesome-benefits-of-sea-salt/.
[xi] Lewin, Jo. “The Health Benefits of Fermenting.” BBC Good Food Online. October 1, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2020. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-offermenting.
[xiv] “Gut Microbiota of Infants Predicts Obesity in Children.” Science News Online. October 23, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2020. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181023085640.htm.