Water, Water, Everywhere!
by Benedict Francis D. Valdecañas, MD, MSc, FPOA, FPCS
Medical Director, Aegle Wellness Center
Chances are you’ve probably heard that the human body is 75% water. Just as the planet we call Earth is. Truth is, the human body is 65% water for males, and 60% for females. Yes, there really is a gender difference. This is because males are more muscular and muscles hold water. Women, on the other hand, have more fat tissue that displaces water. Water is a vital part of the basic functions of the human system. Water, or H2O, as we learned in gradeschool science, is two parts hydrogen that binds with all carbon-based life forms to make up its basic structure, and one part oxygen that fuels all of life’s cellular processes. This basic molecule defines everything we are, from our cells’ form to their function.
Being almost three-quarters water is not the only similarity the human body shares with our planet. The Earth’s main bodies of water, its oceans—and the seawater in them—are the closest substance, in terms of composition, to human blood. Medical history is rife with attempts to use seawater as preventive or curative therapy, beginning with what I would consider the Greek's greatest gift to longevity, thalassotherapy. Like all great ancient civilizations, the Greeks believed that all life on the planet sprang from the sea. Now being able to look at the basis of life at the molecular level, I’d say they really hit the proverbial nail right on the head.
Thalassotherapy, from the Greek word for "sea," makes use of the components of this element of the Earth for medical treatments including weight loss, detoxification, anti-ageing, and regeneration; these components include the seawater itself, mud and silt, algae, and seaweed, as well as coralline minerals. Hippocrates, the father of ethical medicine, was noted to have prescribed his ailing patients a regimen of baths in the Mediterranean sea and drying off under the sun on the temple steps. Let us not forget that breathing in seaside air helps the air sacs in our lungs become more receptive to oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, enhancing the interface between this vital exchange of gases.
But let’s go back to our cells practically containing and bathing in fluid closest to seawater. Paramount of these cellular functions is our defense against bacterial and viral invaders, our immune system. Any change in this fluid content and component can make a person more predisposed to illness. Case in point, by just maintaining optimal hydration, we can keep most infectious diseases at bay. That’s just making sure we meet the minimum daily fluid intake of three liters—one easy way to optimize one’s immune status.
Studies prove that even a day of relative dehydration decreases immunity against most viral infections by as much as fifty percent. And considering our present dilemma amidst this CoViD-19 pandemic, knowledge is indeed power; if only we could disseminate virally, pardon the dark pun, the fact about maintaining adequate hydration and electrolyte balance.
The human immune system is an array of specialized cells designed to not only fight viral invaders like this novel coronavirus, but to recognize these viruses early enough to mount a defense against them before other cells of the body are destroyed. That’s how viruses cause disease; they colonize your cells and use their cellular machinery to multiply themselves. And when your cells are filled with these viral clones, they burst, releasing these multiplied viruses to colonize more cells. Until you don’t have any more cells to fight them, nor to support normal organ function, leaving the host organism—that’s you—to die.
The great writer Ernest Hemingway felt his senses were at their acutest, his thoughts at their clearest, when he was nearest the sea. For some reason neither he, nor we in this present day of technology and research, can explain why being near a body of seawater seems to charge us with so much healing energy. Ancient civilizations surrendered to it. A company in France, started by René Quinton in the 19th century, made an industry out of selling purified seawater in ampoules, which are still used for medical treatments to this day.
So it’s not a surprise that water, as basic an Earthly element as it is, can spell the difference between life and death, or wellness and illness. Such a simple habit of maintaining hydration, regular baths in seawater, and respecting the fact that our very beings were borne of Earth and all the elements on this planet—this simple concept can keep us healthier even with regard to health challenges such as the CoViD-19 pandemic we face today.
Dr. Valdecañas is a specialist in regenerative medicine research for both hospital-based programs and clinical applications. He utilizes the latest findings and innovations that molecular biology has to offer in optimizing health and human performance through customized micronutrient supplementation, personalized exercise programs, and careful attention to diet and nutrition.