Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Water and Healing Cancer

Everybody needs water. People who have cancer need more.

Of course, not just people who have cancer need water. On average, water comprises about two-thirds of the human body. Every one of the trillions of cells in the body contains water and needs water to live. Some tissues are mostly water, such as blood and lymph. The brain, heart, liver, and lungs are 65 to 85 per cent water, and even the bones are approximately 30 per cent water. The muscles "bulk up" by incorporating water with protein. Fat cells, on the other hand, contain relatively little water.

Water forms the bulk of the blood and plasma that transport oxygen and nutrients. It controls blood pressure and heart rate. It lubricates the joints, regulates body temperature, removes toxins and wastes, and forms saliva. It performs as shock absorber for the spinal cord, eyes, and brain.

Many nutrients are water-soluble. Without adequate hydration, they cannot be absorbed from the digestive tract. Many toxins are likewise soluble in water. Without enough water, they cannot be flushed out of the body through urine and stool. Lack of water can lead to bladder infections, unexplained fevers and chills, electrolyte imbalances, irregular heart rhythms, and painful muscle spasms.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE CANCER NEED ADDITIONAL WATER. Most healthy adults require about 1500 ml (6 cups) of water every day from beverages, and get another 1000 ml (4 cups) of water from food, including both the water in food and the water released during the metabolism of food. We do not just drink water, we literally eat water. People who cannot eat, of course, do not get the 40 per cent of their daily water supplied by food.

People in recovery from cancer actually require more water than healthy people, even though they are likely to drink (and eat) less. As the immune system, chemotherapy, and/or radiation successfully break down tumors, their toxic byproducts have to be excreted. There needs to be increased urination, in most cases, to rid the body of toxins. Many cancer patients need at least another 500 ml (2 cups) of water as their bodies break up tumors.

That's why, for most people who have cancer, drinking water is second in importance only to breathing. Most people require 2500 ml (10 cups) of water a day, but people with cancer really need about 3000 ml (12 cups) from eating and drinking. So is there anything special about the best water for cancer patients?

WHAT KIND OF WATER TO DRINK. There actually is a lower limit for water quality for people seeking to recover from cancer, but it's not especially difficult or expensive. It's essential to remember that water is essential for human life, but it is also essential for the life of disease-causing microbes. Cancer patients simply cannot afford to drink any kind of water that is possibly contaminated. This means water from streams, rivers, lakes, and most rainwater collection systems is not to be used without antimicrobial treatment or filtration.

Tap water is not ideal, but in most of the developed world, it is not especially harmful. Better choices are purified or filtered bottled water, preferably in glass water. The chlorine and fluorides in most municipal water are in fact detrimental to health, but their effects are usually very long term. If you are managing going to chemo and keeping your job and maintaining your household and paying your bills, you do not need fear that you are endangering your health by drinking the same water you typically drink.

It's actually more beneficial to go with tap water rather distilled. Distilled water lacks the electrolytes your body needs for normal nerve and muscle function, and needs the addition of a tiny amount of salt and, yes, sugar to be well absorbed. Seltzer water and products like Nestlé Aquarel, Pure Life, and Vida do not require addition of sugar and salt. They are good choices because they contain some of the minerals your body especially needs to maintain an alkaline, cancer-fighting environment.

CONSUME WATER THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Just as you breathe throughout the day, you should drink throughout the day. Drinking small amounts of fluids throughout the day rather than several glasses of water with a meal leaves more room for food. It's also important to avoid drinking too much fluid too quickly. The net result of drinking too much fluid at one time can be vomiting or diarrhea leading to further dehydration.

Soups, stews, steamed vegetables, and fresh fruit are excellent sources of water. They are easier to digest, and easier to store and reheat when you suffer fatigue.

And the best way to avoid dehydration? Juicing! Hundreds of thousands of people with cancer around the world report that fresh fruit and vegetables juices are the easiest way to stay hydrated and get essential electrolytes, healthy sugars, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals throughout the day.

Although I personally use a manual juicer, most people dealing with cancer will prefer the convenience of an electrical appliance. Slaton makes the Juiceman models that retail from US $39 to $169. These models are noisy, they don't take rinds from pineapple or melons (which you should not be juicing, anyway, because they harbor bacteria) and they are not the easiest to clean. They are, however, relatively inexpensive and seldom break down. As you become more and more familiar with juicing, you could try the more expensive juicers make by Breville, Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, Jack LaLanne, Oster, and other manufacturers.

Pineapple juice assists in the digestion of protein foods. It is a good base for juices made with bitter vegetables such as kale and spinach. You can make an anthocyanidin-rich smoothie by combining pineapple with blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, or even lingonberry jam. Carrot juice is sweet and also masks the flavor of bitter vegetables. Apple juice is good mask for the sharp, pungent taste of ginger.

Photo credit: W. J. Pilsak (Wikimedia Commons)

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