Water is the most plentiful substance in the body, constituting about 70 per cent of lean body weight in the adult (fat contains essentially no water). With normal activity we lose about two litres of water per day through the kidneys, skin and lungs, and this loss must be replaced. The best source is drinking water. Other good sources are freshly squeezed juices.

Water is important to most bodily functions. It disperses most of the various substances present in the cells and extra- cellular areas of the body. It aids digestion, absorption of nutrients and the removal of waste.

When fasting or dieting, the kidneys, liver and colon are detoxifying, and sufficient amounts of water are necessary to aid in this function.

Decaffeinated tea, coffee and soda water are not to be considered good sources of water when counting your six to eight glasses. Black tea and coffee are diuretic, and can actually deplete water from the body. A cup of coffee should be followed by a glass of water to replace this loss.

Water balance in the cells and tissues is affected by the sodium- potassium balance. Drinking soda water or mineral water high in dissolved salts can upset this balance and cause water retention.

Also be aware of the salt content of some bottled juices, such as tomato or vegetable, which can be dehydrating. Rely on tap water (preferably filtered to remove some of the salts), spring water, herbal teas, water with lemon or lime. If you drink mineral water, read labels to choose one that is low in salts.

I have flaky eyebrows and nothing that I have done seems to help (soap and water, creams, brushing, etc.). It happens more in the winter but shows up all year round.

Your description sounds like you may have seborrheic dermatitis, also known as dandruff. A severe case may lead to redness, scaling and possible bacterial infecion of the eyebrows, eyelids and sides of the nose. While the cause is unknown, dermatologists suspect hormonal imbalance or oil gland disorder. Diabetes, heavy drinking, obesity, respiratory infections and faulty diet can aggravate the condition, as can nervous tension and fatigue.

You could try shampooing the eyebrows with a mild shampoo or with one that has a medicated ingredient in it such as tar, sulfur or selenium sulfide. Keep your face downward as you shampoo – you don’t want this to get into the eyes. Massage it in well and rinse with lukewarm to warm water – not hot. This may have to be done every day at first to obtain control.

Face soaps can aggravate the condition, as the pH of the soap may be too alkaline. Creams can act more like a glue – just clumping the flakes together.

If irritation and the soreness or redness persist, a dermatologist or trichologist may prescribe a special treatment shampoo or lotion and provide an accurate diagnosis. Ask your doctor for a referral.

I was quite overweight but lost 80 pounds after a serious illness. I don’t intend to put any of this weight back on as I am now at a better level. But my skin is sagging. I am only in my early 40s; is there a cream to help my skin return to normal?

We assume that the weight loss was quite rapid. This can often lead to sagging of the tissues and this will not likely be corrected by any cream as the change in your weight was quite dramatic and has probably left a lot of loose skin. You would be better to consult a plastic surgeon about the possibilities of cosmetic surgery.