Monday, 23 June 2014

Revisiting Water ... Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

With the summer months and the warm weather finally here I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic of water.  In the spirit of honesty I have to admit I HATE drinking water.  I don’t know what it is about water but I find it flavourless (okay, that’s a bit of an obvious statement) and I just cannot choke it down in the quantities recommended by ALL the experts.  Yet every time I read about the health and weight loss benefits of water it reinforces the fact that I am doing myself a great disservice and, quite possibly causing myself some serious problems.  The only time I consume water with any regularity is when I am working out … and even that activity has been hit and miss lately.  But!  Better than it has been over the winter months … small steps … small steps!

I did a really lengthy post on water on this blog some time ago, but recently one of my TOPS members handed me a binder crammed full of articles she had collected over the years.  I always appreciate it when people hand me their own sources of information.  Quite frankly its quite a chore to come up with motivating, informational and, hopefully, interesting meeting ideas every week.  Paging through her binder it dawned on me that this collection had been put together several years previously, as the articles were from various magazines dated between 1999 and 2007.  Unfortunately, the articles were cut out and put into the binder, so I can credit the sources accurately.

I find it difficult sometimes to keep up with accurate information these days because it changes so quickly … one day coffee is evil and the next week it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread; which come to think of it, is really not all that good for you.  The same goes for all kinds of things; milk, eggs, etc.  One day they are in the list of shoulds and the next week they are in the list of shouldn’ts.  The basics always stay the same and water is one of those basics!

Next to air, water is the substance most necessary for our survival.  A normal adult is about 60-to70-percent water.  We can go without food for almost two months, but without water only a few days.  Yet most people have no idea how much water they should drink.  In fact, many of us live in a dehydrated state.

Without water we’d be poisoned to death by our own waste products.  When the kidneys remove uric acid and urea, these must be dissolved in water.  If there isn’t enough water, wastes are not removed as effectively and may build up as kidney stones.  Water is also vital as a medium for chemical reactions in digestion and metabolism.  It carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells through the blood and helps to cool the body through perspiration.  Water also lubricates our joints.

We even need water to breath:  Our lungs must be moist to take in oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide.  We lose a pint of liquid each day just exhaling.

So …

If you don’t drink sufficient water, you can impair every aspect of you physiology.  By not drinking enough water, many people incur excess body fat, poor muscle tone and size, decreased organ function, increased toxicity in the body, joint and muscle soreness and water retention.

Water retention?

Yep, if you are not drinking enough, your body may retain water to compensate.  Paradoxically, fluid retention can sometimes be eliminated by drinking more water, not less.

Proper water intake is a key to weight loss.  If people who are trying to lose weight don’t drink enough water, the body can’t metabolize the fat adequately.  Retaining fluid also keeps weight up.

The following is a formula I had never come across before:

The minimum for a healthy person is eight to ten eight-ounce glasses a day.  You need more if you exercise a lot or live in a hot climate.  Overweight people should drink an extra glass for every 25 pounds they exceed their ideal weight.  At the International Sportsmedicine Institute, they have a formula for water intake: one-half ounce per pound of body weight if you are not active (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses a day if your weight is 160 pounds) and two-thirds ounce per pound if you’re athletic.

Let’s look at some common misconceptions …

Water’s main roll is to quench thirst.
Though thirst is your body’s way of signalling you to consume more water, it is an imperfect signal that may turn off before you have drunk enough to satisfy your body’s need.

“I never drink water and I feel fine.”
We get water from many sources – from other liquids such as juices, coffee, tea, milk, beer and soft drinks; from the content of many solid foods; from the body’s own metabolic processes.  However, the caffeine in coffee, tea and some soft drinks has a diuretic effect that ultimately causes your body to lose more water than you consume.  Alcohol, too, tends to dehydrate, which is why you make wake up thirsty after a night of drinking.

“Drinking water makes me feel fat and bloated.”
It is not the water that makes you feel bloated, but rather salt that holds large amounts of water in your body.  If your diet is low in salt and other sources of sodium, any water you consume will be quickly washed out of your body.

Many people confuse “water weight” with fat.  The weight you gain after eating a big meal is usually almost entirely water that you’ll lose in a few days.  When you go on any diet that produces rapid weight loss – especially one that is high in protein, low in sugars and starches – most of your initial weight loss will be water, not fat.  As soon as you slip back to your usual eating habits, you’ll “gain” back a pound or two of water (not fat).  While you are losing weight, it’s important to drink plenty of water to help your kidneys eliminate the toxic wastes produced by the breakdown of body fat.

You should not drink water while you are eating.
Some people believe that drinking liquids with meals dilutes digestive enzymes, preventing the body from digesting and absorbing some of the food eaten.  Not true.  In fact, water facilitates digestion.  Drinking water or other low calorie liquids before or with your meals can also help you control your portions by creating a sensation of fullness.

Did you know that …

… The average adult body holds 35 to 50 litres of water, 2.3 – 2.8 litres of which are lost every day through excretion and perspiration?

… Some seemingly solid foods are mostly water?  Fruits and vegetables are more
three- fourths water.  Green beans, for example, are 89 percent water and lettuce is 95 percent water.  Both of these are actually “wetter” than milk, which is only 87 percent water.

… Mineral water contains dissolved minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium.  All water, other than distilled water, is technically mineral water.

… “Natural” mineral water contains only mineral naturally present and is usually drawn from a spring.

… If carbon dioxide is added to mineral water for sparkle, the word “carbonated” must appear on the label.

… Seltzer is tap water that been filtered and carbonated.

… Club Soda is seltzer to which minerals and mineral salts are added.  The sodium content may be high, so it is not recommended for people with high blood pressure or heart disease.

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