The Health Benefits of Drinking Water

Learn about the health benefits of drinking water: drinking enough water, little-known scientific facts, how much water is enough, consuming more than thirst calls for, and medical prevention.


| July/August 1986



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When you realize that 60% to 70% of your total body weight is made up of water, it's not too difficult to understand that nearly every function of the body happens in a more or less liquid medium.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Reprinted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 84. 

Do you drink enough water?

The Health Benefits of Drinking Water

A number of years ago, the Swiss put together a fine mountain-climbing team, hopping it would be the first to scale Mount Everest. Many months went into the group's preparation because of the tremendous demands that would be made upon human energy in the effort to reach the top of the world. Unfortunately, despite all that careful planning, the Swiss team had to abandon the attempt because of sheer exhaustion, not realizing that a source of relief was covering the ground all around them.

A year or so later, when a group of British climbers undertook the same challenge, their team physician, Sir John Hunt, remembered that the Swiss had consumed only two cups of water per day during their assault on the mountain. Dr. Hunt recommended that the U.K. team carry additional snow-melting equipment, since he believed that the climbers would function better if they drank more water. He felt that when working in the thin, chill air, people lose a lot of water not only through perspiration, but also through respiration, because the air entering the lungs has to be humidified as it's brought nearer to body temperature. Therefore, the doctor insisted that each British participant drink a minimum of 12 cups of water daily. That team, headed by Sir Edmund Hillary, followed his advice and became the first expedition to plant its flag on the summit of the world's highest peak.

Little-Known Scientific Facts About Water

In order to further examine Dr. Hunt's theory about how water consumption affected endurance, a Harvard physiologist, G.C. Pitts, tested groups of male athletes by putting them on treadmills timed at 3-1/2 miles per hour.

The subjects in the first group were given no water at all and were asked to walk until they were so fatigued that they could go no farther. These athletes lasted about 3-1/2 hours. Their temperatures rose rapidly during the test period and, in the exhaustion phase, finally reached an average of above 102 degrees Fahrenheit.





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