Drink we define as pure water only. No other fluid except water deserves the name of drink. Other fluids commonly referred to as drinks are either foods or poisons and should be classed under these heads. Thirst is a demand for water--not for food or for a so-called beverage. Fruit juices, milk, etc., are foods, and should be taken as such.
The body is largely water and its water content is greater during its period of most rapid growth than at other periods. Water supports all of the nutritive processes, from digestion on through absorption and circulation through the body, assimilation and disassimilation, to excretion. It is the chief agent in regulating body temperature, serving much as does water in the radiator of an automobile.
Some of the most important offices of water in the body are:
1. It is an essential constituent of all tissues and cells and of all body fluids--blood, lymph, glandular secretions, etc.
2. It holds the nutritive materials in solution and serves as a medium for the transportation of food to the various parts of the body.
3. It holds waste and toxins in solution and serves as a medium for the transportation of these from the body.
4. It keeps the various mucous membranes of the body soft and prevents friction of their surfaces.
5. It is used in regulating body temperature.
The body is constantly throwing off water and this must be replenished. It gets much of its water in foods in the form of juices. Other water is taken as drink. A good part of the water taken in becomes an integral part of the tissues, that is it becomes "living water."
Fresh rain water and distilled water are best. Distilled water is not dead, as some foolishly say it is. Pure water from a rock spring is excellent drink.
Drinking water should be as pure as possible. Hard waters, mineral waters, etc., contain considerable mineral matter, and are injurious in proportion to the amount of mineral they contain. The delusion that mineral water is curative is an old one and has resulted in incalculable harm to countless thousands.
One of the dogmas of modern so-called science is that man should drink so much water a day. People are advised to drink at least a given amount daily regardless of the quality and quantity of their diet, the nature of the environments (climate, season, occupation, etc.) and without consideration for the instinctive demands of their bodies. If they are not thirsty they are advised to drink anyway; to cultivate the habit of drinking a glass of water at regular intervals. The advise usually given is to drink at least six glasses of water between meals each day.
I do not believe in routine drinking anymore than I believe in routine eating. There is not and never was any necessity to drink any specific number of glasses of water a day. Indeed, many have gone for years without drinking water as such.
A peculiar feature about this drink-lots-of-water dogma is that it is held by those who advise one never to eat unless truly hungry as much as by those who preach the belly's gospel of three squares plus and go by your appetite. Why should one drink without thirst? Is this more appropriate than eating without hunger? Does not the body know when water is needed?
The great importance of pure water should be recognized, but all of the facts about water given in this chapter do not teach us that we should be constantly taking water into our stomachs.
Water needs vary with season and activity and other factors. The man who is engaged in active physical labor in the summer's sun requires more water than the office worker who is in the shade, perhaps near an electric fan, and pushes a pencil or operates an adding machine. We require more water in summer than in winter, more during the day's activities than during the night's slumbers. The more rood one eats the more water will his system demand. The fasting individual has little thirst. The person whose diet is chiefly fresh fruits and green vegetables gets large quantities of water in its purest form from these. He needs to drink less water than the man whose diet is largely dry. If milk is taken with meals this supplies considerable water.
The body's water requirements depend upon age, sex, activities, season, climate, etc. It needs a certain amount of water under given conditions, but it makes no difference to the body from whence it obtains this supply. It is perfectly satisfied with the juices of fruits and vegetables or the water in milk and, accordingly, we find that infants on a milk diet and adults who consume an abundance of juicy fruits and succulent vegetables have little or no desire for water.
The amount of solid matter in milk is small. It is nearly all water. The percentage of water in milk is greater than the percentage of water in the infant. There is, therefore, no reason to give much water to the milk-fed infant. If fruit juices (also nearly all water) are fed to the infant, in addition to the milk, there is absolutely no reason to give additional water to infants. This I have proved on several infants. They need no water save that contained in their milk and fruit juices, during their first year of life, and their growth will be above the average.