5 Uncommon, Yet Brilliant Ways Water Impacts Your Health
We all know we should drink water. We even know many of the common reasons why water is so important to our bodies. But water — and its role in the body — go even deeper and more complex than many of us know. Just take a look at these five uncommon, yet brilliant ways water impacts our health!
1. Water is essential for life, but not just for us humans. Life also includes the tiny tenants we carry with us everywhere, our microbiota (an assortment of various microorganisms that live inside us). Water is vital not only for their livelihood, but also for their functions that support our bodies. Did you know that in the spirit of mutual interest, they create metabolic byproducts such as short chain fatty acids that in turn stimulate water and sodium absorption in our bodies’ intestines, aiding whole body hydration? So keep hydrating because not only does your life, but the lives of trillions of organisms depend on it.
2. Water outside our bodies can have health benefits just like water inside our bodies has health benefits. For example, have you ever heard about the “mammalian dive reflex?”
This phenomenon is where water triggers an immediate response in lowering blood pressure.
In 1962, Per Scholander, a Swedish-born researcher working in the United States, gathered volunteers and instructed them to dive down into the bottom of a large water thank. Immediately their blood pressure dropped. He tried again, this time requesting that the volunteers strap themselves into exercise machines in the bottom of the tank, hold their breath, and work out to see if their blood pressure would increase. The opposite happened; instead their blood pressure continued to decrease. Scholander called this the master switch, referencing an evolutionary adaptation to counteract asphyxia. Water activated this switch while diving in the test.
You can trigger this master switch simply by splashing your face with water. In addition to lowering blood pressure, this will rush blood into your vital organs, which is why when you splash cold water on your face you feel more alert.
3. Do you suffer constant battles with allergies? Grab a glass of water (or a couple as a matter of fact). When our bodies undergo mild dehydration our hypothalamus releases histamine. Histamines are compounds that are a normal part of our bodies’ allergic response, and they are most well-known in association with the sneezing, itching, red noses, and watery eyes of seasonal allergies. When levels of histamines get too high you experience allergy-like symptoms.
Drinking water, and eliminating dehydration, can reduce histamine released in the body — and may help your allergy-like symptoms.
4. Water provides structure integrity in our bodies, from absorbing damage to vital organs such as our brain to other more recently studied functions such as the role it plays in the fibroblasts cells. These cells lay the foundation for all connective tissue in the body, eye cornea, heart valves, cartilage, ligaments and so forth (it’s a long list). Water plays a role in holding our body together! One connective tissue we are learning more about holding great promise to treat various physical dysfunctions is the fascia, which is Greek for “band.” In the words of Tom Myers from Anatomy Trains:
“Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together. You are about 70 trillion cells all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that hold them all together in their proper placement. How fascia works as a whole — our biomechanical regulatory system — is highly complex and under-studied. Understanding fascia is essential to the dance between stability and movement — crucial in high performance, central in recovery from injury and disability, and ever-present in our daily life from our embryological beginnings to the last breath we take.”
How important is the fascia? The fascia has its very own independent vascular network — bonghan ducts — which communicates throughout the whole body. Water enriches fascia arranged as liquid crystals, and it is essential for the structure of this system. That, my friends, is one of the marvels of life and we are just scratching the surface.
5. Gerald Pollack who runs a laboratory out of the University of Washington, proposes a very unique function of water. It has the possibility to act like a battery across cellular membranes being “charged” by the sun — both by the heat it emits and the light wavelengths that promote water structure in the cells of body. This is what Dr. Pollack calls exclusive zones (EZ); he challenges the view of water as simply a suspension medium where proteins, enzymes and all other molecules simply float and use water as a means of transports. It does play those roles, but it plays even more vital roles.
“To understand biology we need to understand water, otherwise we will never truly and fully understand biology,” Pollack says. Water is not solely a passive medium in our bodies, but a metabolic reactant, product, catalyst, chaperone, messenger and controller. Water is essential for bimolecular recognition and orchestrates our cells’ machinery. An interesting current review has considered the versatility and adaptability of intracellular water in engaging in a wide range of cellular biochemistry.
We KNOW water is essential to life, but the properties, functions and extent to which that occurs are still widely unknown. We haven’t scratched the surface of how critical and widespread the role of water is in our health. It makes it seem so stupid to simply “forget” to drink water or be “too busy” to hydrate our bodies. Are you too busy to live?
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