« ForrigeFortsett »
Entered according to Act of Congress, A. D. 1901, by A. N. BELL, in the office
of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Some of the members of this Club seem to think it matters not what they eat, or what they drink, or what their other habits of life are; that as long as they think they are well and strong they will remain so. If this is the case, I do not see why they should join or attend the meetings of a club whose object is the study of health and longevity.
I do not question the fact that there is much truth in the saying that “As a man thinketh so is he,” but the thinking is not all. If you take poison into your stomach, thinking it will not harm you, you had better have a doctor near with an antidote or stomach pump. Or, if you intend drinking water contaminated with the germs of typhoid fever, you should make your will and prepare for the happy hereafter.
While the subject of this paper is Water, I do not wish to convey the impression by what I may say of its importance for health and longevity, that I think water and its right use is the only thing that will aid us in attaining a long, useful and happy life. There are many other things of great importance, but the proper use of pure water is, perhaps, the most important of all.
The question of food, involving the kind, quality, quantity, mode of preparation, time and manner of eating, mental and physical conditions attending digestion, etc., is very closely related to, and intertwined with, that of drink. So, also, is pure air. The three, water, solid food and air, are all foods which help to build up and keep the tissues of the body in repair, and are all absolutely necessary to sustain life. One can live but a few minutes without air, only a few days without water in some form; but men have lived
*Read at the meeting of the 100-Year Club, New York, November 26, 1901.
many weeks without food other than air and water. Then there are the other essentials of exercise, rest and sleep, mental and moral conditions, etc.
I wish to say here that I regard long life as desirable only in proportion to the perfection, development and happiness attained by, and the usefulness of, that life. To simply exist for a great number of years, a burden to yourself and friends, as is too often the case, is both undesirable and unnecessary.
The general use of water as related to health, happiness and longevity, is too extensive a subject for one short paper, and I shall confine myself mainly to its use within the body.
Internal Cleanliness. Cleanliness of the surface of the body, of the skin, is rightly regarded by thinking people as necessary and very desirable for health and comfort. If this is true, and nearly every one admits its truth, while comparatively few practice it to the most desirable extent, how much more important is it to keep the interior of the body, the meat within the shell; the bones that support and sustain; the muscles which move and give flexibility, grace and strength, constituting, as they do, about three-fourths of the body; the brain and nervous system which control and direct all; the vital organs, and the organs of digestion, assimilation, secretion and excretion; and especially the blood, which nourishes and strengthens all; how much more important, I repeat, to keep all these pure, clean, and in perfect working condition. Pure water, and plenty of it, does this, and it can be done in no other way.
Important as is the external bath in promoting the cleanliness and healthy action of the skin, it has much less influence upon health and longevity than this daily bathing of all the blood and tissues of the body in pure water. When I say pure water I mean that which is absolutely free from all animal, vegetable and mineral substances whatever.
The proper performance of every function of the body, digestion and assimilation of food, the circulation of the blood, the processes of secretion and excretion, and the regulation of the temperature of the body, in fact every vital action, is dependent upon the quantity and quality of the water which is daily taken into the system. If water in insufficient quantity, or of impure quality, is used, every organ is impeded in its action, and every function disturbed; the free circulation of the blood through the microscopic capillary tubes of the entire system, one of the most important of life's processes, is seriously interfered with; depuration through the various organs and channels of excretion is retarded, and consequently a slow but certain poisoning of the system takes place.
Water constitutes nearly three-fourths of the body. This fact alone shows its great importance. The blood is about 80 per cent. water, the muscles 75 per cent., the brain nearly 80 per cent., the gastric juice 971 per cent., the saliva 993 per cent., and even the bones contain 13 per cent., and the teeth 10 per cent. of water.
Water is continually passing from the body, and always carries with it more or less of the waste, worn-out and poisonous materials constantly being generated within the system, as well as the injurious substances introduced from without. Every expired breath is loaded with watery vapor filled with these impurities. They are constantly being thrown out through the millions of little sewers, the perspiratory ducts of the skin, in the form of insensible perspiration. So, also, with the kidneys and other channels of elimination, and water is always the vehicle by the aid of which they are disposed of. If they were not thrown out of the body they would soon clog the wheels of life and produce disease and death, as they are doing all over the world.
We will use a sponge as an illustration of this cleansing and purifying process. If the sponge is badly soiled, the first time water is squeezed through, it will come out dark and muddy; the second time less so; the third time less still, until at length the water has done its work and issues forth as pure as when it entered. So with the body. It is filled with impurities, and, unlike the sponge, they are constantly being added to by the worn-out particles of the system which are of no further use, but must be disposed of to make room for new ones capable of furnishing renewed life and vital force. Water is the only medium capable of absorbing and carrying these impurities out of the body without injuring or destroying it. The larger quantity of water squeezed through the sponge the quicker and more effectively it will be cleansed. It is the same with the body—the more water drunk, the quicker and more certainly it will be purified. And again, the purer the water which is used the sooner and better will the cleansing be accomplished. Any housewife knows that if she uses clean water to wash and rinse her dishes and clothes the work will be better done, and the article washed be purer, whiter and sweeter than if soiled water were used, yet how few realize the vastly greater importance of using the purest water to wash and keep pure and sweet the caskets which contain their immortal souls.