Health benefits of drinking water
Ask anyone and they will invariably tell you the same thing - they want to live a long and happy life in good health. And what better way to take control and improve your health than to consume the very thing that your body requires to flourish, water.
Let me ask you, how much water have you drunk today?
Do you know how much water your body needs each day?
After today you will not only know how much water is right for you, but also the wonderful effects water has on your health, and some insightful ways to incorporate more water into your lifestyle.
Today people all over the world are drinking too much soda, contributing to weight gain, poor exercise performance, fuzzy thinking, poor concentration and mood as well as anxiety, and other such health disorders as diabetes, constipation and joint pain.
As a result of choosing soda over water we are dehydrated.
Dehydration has such an impact on our bodies that often drinking a glass of water is suggested to someone suffering a headache because the brain relies heavily on a water supply, and as a bonus drinking water will also improve memory, concentration, and mood and decreases anxiety.
Elimination is also dependent upon hydration levels, with water needed for waste removal via urination, perspiration and is one of the three factors for a healthy bowel motion, fibre and exercise being the other.
A simple substitution from soda to water leads to hydration, which improves not only mental performance but physical performance as well, by lubricating and cushioning joints, hydrating muscle tissues, protects your spinal cord (and other sensitive tissues), reduces caloric intake, regulating body temperature, reducing fatigue, enhances digestion and elimination.
A study involving over 18,000 North American adults that was published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (recorded in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2012) found drinking water of sugar-laden soda helps control weight, reduces cholesterol, salt, total and saturated fat intake. In addition, the authors recommended as little as 3 glasses of water a day can contribute to a caloric reduction of 68-205 calories, which has the potential for a significant loss in weight.
Water helps weight maintenance via enhancing our sense of fullness and metabolic rate, in fact, two studies demonstrated that you can increase metabolism by up to 30% for up to one and a half hours, this equates to being able to increase your energy expenditure by up to 96 calories a day, and if you consider that if you drink chilled water you can burn up to 40 calories converting it to body temperature that further increases your daily energy expenditure
With so many health benefits of water, why are many so resistant to drinking more of it? I hear a lot that “water is boring” or” I don’t like the taste”. Easy fix! What you can flavour water with is limited only by your imagination. There is fruit, there are vegetables, there are berries, and there are herbs. And don’t forget, hot drinks count towards your water intake and herbal teas can also be drunk cold.
Now you know the health benefits of water and how to make it more palatable, just how much water do we need? In addition to drinking a cup of water for each coffee and tea to counteract its’ diuretic effect, all you need is a mere 30ml of water per kilogram of body weight a day; great! What does that look like?
Let’s say the average weight of a woman is 60 kg, she needs to drink 1.8L (7 cups), and for an average 70 kg male that is 2.1L (8.5 cups) of water a day.
Drinking 7-8.5 glasses of water a day doesn’t seem like such a chore when you start to think about the endless combinations of flavourings you can add, and pace it through the day accordingly, a glass ever hour of your workday for instance.
The amount of water and its temperature are not the only factors that influence the effects of drinking water on the body, time also plays a role. By drinking water an hour and a half before you eat it can help you feel fuller, resulting in eating less and contributing towards maintenance of a normal weight.
Drinking before you eat will make you feel fuller so you eat less, however, it is not ideal because water will dilute our gastric acids, needed for digestion and maximising our nutritional intake from that meal. Therefore, limit your water to one glass during a meal, especially for those finding it hard to put weight on in the first place. In a study involving subjects who drank 2 glasses of water before meals 44% of subjects lost more weight over a 3-month period.
I also hear often that the nightly glass of wine to wind down is a hard habit to kick, to which I say, keep the ritual, swap the drink! Use your finest wine glass, add water, ice cubes, some fresh strawberry slices and a sprig of mint leaves and nourish your mental, physical and emotional self as you unwind and relax from the stressors of the day.
So, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, the next time you go for a drink, make it water.
Penelope Espinoza Hallett, Naturopath
(BHsc (C.M.) AdvDip. Nat/N.D, Dip. Aroma, Dip. C.H., Cert. R.M., Cert. R.M., Cert. SBM, mNHAA)