THE BEST BEVERAGE IN THE WORLD
1. Which drink is the perfect nutrient to replace the eight glasses of water that your body loses daily through sweating, exhaling, urination and defecation?
2. Which ones contain the equivalent of eight cubes of sugar, dehydrate you, remove calcium from your bones and lead to osteoporosis? (Answers at the end of the article).
3. Which is the most acidic, erodes enamel and punches holes in your teeth?
In this second article about water, we shall examine the water intake of schoolchildren, the effects on their health and guidance for parents.
In a BAPS survey conducted in Ahmedabad in early March 2011 (cool period), 162 boys and girls aged 11 to 14, filled in a questionnaire about their daily water intake, the colour of their urine and whether any of them suffered from any of the following disorders: constipation, headaches, asthma, colds and mouth ulcers. The results are presented in the bar chart (next page). An interesting correlation emerges. The most noticeable observation is that children who drink less water (in the 5-10 glass range) tend to suffer from disorders to a greater extent than those who drink more water, as seen in the next two ranges. These decrease as the water intake increases. Surprising as it may seem, those who drank more water suffered less colds than the first group. A plausible reason for this is that less water intake probably compromises immunity.
Since this was not a survey conducted on a one-to-one basis, but one based on filling a questionaire in the Sunday bal sabha, anomalies did occur. For example, children who drank enough water (16-20 glasses) still suffered constipation and mouth ulcers. This could be due to other factors, such as, not chewing food properly, eating little or no green vegetables, drinking water during meals and eating foods which innately cause constipation, such as, white bread, milk and yogurt. Similar is the case for headaches, despite adequate intake. This can be due to stress at home or school. A few children stated that they had 21-25 glasses per day. This is highly doubtful. According Dr Mehul Trivedi (MD Homeopathy) and Hitesh Chauhan, a bio-statistician, who evaluated the survey, this could be due to an error by children who probably did not know exactly how much water they drank and probably regarded a few sips every now and then as a whole glass. Finally, a follow-up survey is also necessary to see what percentage are relieved of their disorders, especially in the first two groups, 7-10 and 11-15 glasses/day, after they increase their water intake.
Some of the children did not drink water at school for the simple reason that parents had advised them not to drink school water for fear of contracting water-borne diseases! Another parent feared that his son might refill the bottle in school with contaminated water. This fear is also valid. We hear about municipal and private schools in India not regularly cleaning their overhead water storage tanks. Such laxity occasionally causes water-borne infections such as diahorrea, typhoid and jaundice in pupils in these schools, such that they have to close down until the tanks have been cleaned properly.
Some parents also did not think about giving their children water bottles, because according to one parent, “Tushar is going to return home at 2 p.m.” Eight-year-old Tushar attends morning school. During this period he does not drink any water and his lips are always dry. He used to visit the W.C. four times to void stool. After he was given a water bottle, he stopped visiting the W.C. His frequent voiding was due to indigestion caused by dehydration. Drinking enough water improved his digestion. It has been over a month now and he has also gained some weight.
Apart from the survey, we consider a few other interesting cases. One is of 12-year-old Naresh. A pae-diatric neurologist diagnosed him as having “childhood migraine” after all tests and CT scans proved nor-mal. Naresh was prescribed three types of medications to take daily, which made him drowsy. As a result his grades have suffered. Amazingly, the physician never bothered to ask him when he suffered migraine. Naresh divulged to sadhus that he got the attacks only on Mondays and Thursdays, after he played football in two consecutive periods in the afternoon (80 minutes). However when he played football on Fridays and Saturdays during only one sports period (40 minutes), he suffered no migraine! Hence his migraine was triggered by dehydration from sweating and exertion during his 80 minutes of sports. So when you get headaches during exertion or hot weather, first think of pani (water), not pain killers.
Another case is of 14-year-old Kirit. To onlookers he seemed to be suffering from a fit when he fainted one evening at 9.00 p.m. after playing cricket with friends from 5.00 p.m. till 7.00 p.m. in the hot Indian summer.
The emergency physician, suspecting hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), gave him intravenous glucose solution, advised him to eat more frequently and discharged him. But Kirit’s father still feared that Kirit might have epilepsy. Therefore he got Kirit’s EEG done by a neurologist. The result was normal and the neurologist told the parents not to worry about epilepsy. An astute relative, who was a health care professional, later questioned Kirit about his water intake that afternoon. He concluded that Kirit’s fainting episode was probably not due to low blood sugar but fainting resulting from only dehydration since Kirit had not drunk any water all afternoon. He advised Kirit’s parents not to fear about diabetes nor epilepsy and that he did not need frequent meals but to actively drink water when playing games in temperatures hovering around 42°C. This was six years ago. Since then Kirit has not fainted once, as he drinks plenty of water while playing and afterwards as well.
There may be many such Tushars, Kirits and Nareshs suffering from disorders which can be resolved by simply drinking more plain water. Others who drink sodas, tea, coffee, colas and sports drinks are also inviting dehydration for the simple reason that they contain caffeine. Caffeine is a known diuretic – that which induces urination. Drinking the above beverages leads to more dehydration. They are not an alternative to plain water.
TIME FOR WATER
Theoretically, in the pie-chart above, a child has 16 hours to drink water, indicated by the yellow and blue segments. However, if the child avoids drinking water during school time, only eight hours remain. If one follows Dr Fereydoon’s advice to avoid water 30 minutes before a meal and to start two hours after a meal (assuming one has only one main meal), then this further cuts the time by three hours, leaving only five hours in which to drink at least 8 glasses. This is not feasible for children, assuming they are fully aware of the benefits of water. Therefore children should be urged to drink plain water during school time to space out the total daily intake during the 16 hours that they are awake. This would work out to an average of one glass every two hours. Similarly, adults should adjust their own greater intake more frequently during the 16 hours
• Ashtanghrudaya of Vaghbhatt Rishi.
• Chew On This by Eric Schlosser & Charles Wilson, 2006.
• Underage & Overweight – America’s Childhood Obesity Crisis by Frances Berg, 2004.
• Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, 1992, ABC of Asthma, Allergies & Lupus, 2000, How to deal with Back Pain & Rheumatoid Joint Pain, 1991 by Dr Fereydoon Batmanghelidj.
• The Sugar Fix by Richard Johnson M.D., 2009.
• Excitotoxins – The Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock, MD, 1997.
• The Slow Poisoning of America by John & Michelle Erb, 2003
• Special thanks to Dr Mehul Trivedi (MD) & Hitesh Chauhan (Bio-statistician), who evaluated the children’s survey results & thanks to the BAPS children, Ahmedabad, who participated in the survey..