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Filling The Boiler Of The Body-engine

Categories: OUR DRINK
Sources: A Handbook Of Health

The Need of Water in the Body-Engine. If you have ever taken a long

railway journey, you will remember that, about every two or three hours,

you would stop longer than usual at some station, or switch, for the

engine to take in water. No matter how briskly the fire burns in the

furnace, or how much good coal you may shovel into it, if there be no

water in the boiler above it to expand and make steam, the engine will

no work. And an abundant supply of water is just as necessary in our

own bodies, although not used in just the same way as in the engine.

The singular thing about water, both in a locomotive and in our own

bodies is that, absolutely necessary as it is, it is neither burned up

nor broken down in any way, in making the machine go; so that it gives

off no energy, as our food does, but simply changes its form slightly.

Exactly the same amount of water, to the ounce, or even the teaspoonful,

that is poured into the boiler of an engine, is given off through its

funnel and escape-pipes in the form of steam; and precisely the same

amount of water which we pour into our stomachs will reappear on the

surface of the body again in the form of the vapor from the lungs, the

perspiration from the skin, and the water from the kidneys. It goes

completely through the engine, or the body, enables the one to work and

the other to live, and yet comes out unchanged.

Just how water works in the engine we know--the heat from the furnace

changes it into steam, which means that heat expands it, or makes it

fill more space. This swelling pushes forward the cylinder that starts

the wheels of the engine. The next puff gives them another whirl, and in

a few minutes the big locomotive is puffing steadily down the track.

Water is Necessary to Life. Just how water works in the body we do not

know, as most of it is not even turned into steam or vapor. But this

much we do know, that life cannot exist in the absence of water. Odd as

it may seem to us at first sight, ninety-five, yes, ninety-nine per cent

of our body cells are water-animals, and can live and grow only when

literally swimming in water.

The scaly cells on the surface of our skin, our hair, and the tips of

our nails are the only parts of us that live in air. In fact, over

five-sixths of the weight and bulk of our bodies is made up of water.

Some one has quaintly, but truthfully, described the human body as

composed of a few pounds of charcoal, a bushel of air, half a peck of

lime, and a couple of handfuls of salt dissolved in four buckets of

water. The reason why nearly all our foods, as we have seen, contain

such large amounts of water is that they, also, are the results of

life--the tissues and products of plants or animals.

Water Frees the Body from Waste Substances. Water in the body, then,

is necessary to life itself. But another most important use is to wash

out all the waste substances from the different organs and tissues and

carry them to the liver, the kidneys, the lungs, and the skin, where

they can be burned up and got rid of. We must keep our bodies well

flushed with water, just as we should keep a free current of water

flowing through our drain-pipes and sewers.

It Keeps the Body from Getting Over-heated. In summer time, or in hot

climates the year round, an abundant supply of water is of great

importance in keeping the body from becoming overheated, by pouring

itself out on the skin in the form of perspiration, and cooling us by

evaporation, as we shall see in the chapter on the skin.

The Meaning of Thirst. None of us who has ever been a mile or more

away from a well, or brook, on a hot summer's day needs to be told how

necessary water is, for comfort as well as for health. The appetite

which we have developed for it--thirst, as we call it--is the most

tremendous and powerful craving that we can feel, and the results of

water starvation are as serious and as quick in coming as is the

keenness of our thirst. Men in fairly good condition, if they are at

rest, and not exposed to hardship, and have plenty of water to drink,

can survive without food for from two to four weeks; but if deprived of

water, they will perish in agony in from two to three days.

We should Drink Three Pints of Water a Day. Although all our foods,

either as we find them in the state of nature, or as they come on the

table cooked and prepared for eating, contain large quantities of water,

this is not enough for the needs of the body; to keep in good health we

must also drink in some form about three pints, or six glassfuls, of

water in the course of the day. Part of this goes, as you will remember

(p. 16), to dissolve the food so that it can be readily absorbed by our

body cells in the process of digestion.