Water, water everywhere

It was probably about a year ago that I mentioned a book called Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F Batmanghelidj, MD – the so-called ‘Dr Batman’ who discovered the amazing properties of water as a healing agent while he was held in a cramped, overcrowded prison in the then Persia. As a doctor, he was ordered by his captors to take care of the other prisoners – with hardly any medication and in conditions that were far from conducive to a healthy lifestyle! The one thing he did have access to was water, and so he began dispensing it as a medicine, telling people who had problems ranging from migraine to ulcers to drink lots and lots of water. To his amazement, these people improved and the problems vanished. On his release, he escaped to the US, where he established a formal research programme to study his findings – and the results were just as miraculous. Water – pure, clean water – can, indeed, alleviate a multitude of problems.

It makes sense if you think about it. Our bodies are over 70 per cent water. Without water, we die. But without sufficient water – clean, pure water –our vital systems and organs do not function as they should, which provokes pains and a range of ailments. These are treated by painkillers and drugs, which just smother the real cause and, often, create a new catalogue of problems to be dealt with.

Why am I back talking about water? Because I know from personal experience how easy it is to forget to keep drinking water – clean, pure water. And why do I keep emphasising clean, pure water? Because, quite frankly, the quality of the water in the Algarve is…, – well, it’s not very good, to put it mildly. We sit comfortably in our living rooms and watch reports on the TV about earthquakes, like the recent one in Iran. The immediate requirement, having stablised the situation, is for water – clean, pure water. The immediate risk is of disease from – contaminated water. And yet, from experts I talk to, the water in our systems is not much better!

The recommended daily intake of water ishalf your body weight in ounces, each day. So, if you weigh 180lbs, you should drink 90oz of water – clean, pure water – daily. Divide it into eight or 10 portions and keep drinking through the day. Tea and coffee do not count. On the contrary, caffeine – and, of course, alcohol – dehydrates the body, and you need to drink more water to make up for that. In litres, the usual guideline is a minimum of one 1.5 litres per day.Buy stocks of bottles in that size and make sure you get through at least one every day.

Why are we not told about the wonder of water more often? Because, dear reader, if we all drank water – clean, pure water – in abundance, we wouldn’t need many of the drugs and chemicals that keep the pharmaceutical companies in business, or the doctors who prescribe them in holidays and smart cars. In other words, there ain’t no profit in water!

According to Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, a wide variety of ailments can be prevented and helped by drinking more water, including asthma, arthritis, angina, back pain, colitis, diabetes, high blood pressure and blood cholesterol, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression –even loss of libido!

And before you go and get a glass of water from the tap, let me give you a few sober facts about the water that comes out of most of our mains water taps. In simple terms, it is probably unfit for human consumption.

When I lived in my old farmhouse between Almancil and Loulé, I had the mains water tested. “Promise me you will never drink this water,” was the response from the experienced man who tested it, “and really, you shouldn’t even be showering in it.” I know that the water where I live now will, within a matter of days, build up a scale deposit on any container that I use to put it in, be it metal, glass or ceramic – imagine what it is doing inside a body!

So bad is the overall level of contamination of water in Portugal that the European Commission is taking Portugal to court. Of particular concern was the concentration of faecal traces in drinking water, which exposes people to high levels of bacteria and viruses. I am sure that you have all reeled at the whiff as you pass by the various ETARs around the region. Do you think that’s healthy? A properly-functioning ETAR should not give off any odour, because everything is being treated and purified. The foul smell is a clear signal that there is contamination, both in the water and in the air – which is then carried on the breeze.

Not so long ago I was shown a ‘treatment plant’ within the Golden Triangle, which was built to service a small development, which it did. Then a very large hotel – presumably to save costs and to persuade the Environmental Ministry that its sewage treatment arrangements were satisfactory – ran its pipes into the same plant. Result? Each summer, men had to scoop solid waste by hand from the plant to prevent the system from clogging, and to minimise the inevitable contamination. This is the 21st century, in a so-called civilised country, in an ostensibly wealthy area. What on earth is going on?

What is going on is absolutely nothing, and that is the problem. There seems to be a lack of resolve on the part of local, regional and national government to tackle this problem, which will not go away. What does it need, I wonder? For thousands of tourists to have the water in their hotels and villas tested and to publish the results? To have an epidemic of something horrible that can be traced back to the water that laps the beaches that fly blue flags?

Water is the most important element in our lives apart from air. I have often said that the next major war will not be fought over oil, but over water. Make no mistake, we all live in an area where, generally, the quality of mains water is far below the standard you would expect. We drink it, we shower in it, thousands swim in it. Be aware, and make a conscious decision to do something about it. And make sure that you drinklots of clean, pure water every day. Cheers!