Words on Water
We all know that water is good for us and that over the years we have been told to drink 8 glasses of water a day. However, this was not based on scientific evidence.
The University of MIchigan produced a paper which says that in 1945, an organisation “recommended that people drink 2.5 liters (84.5 ounces) a day. Evidently, most who read this then ignored the following sentence, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.” Whatever “prepared” meant in 1945, all food contains water, especially vegetables and fruits.”
So how much water should we drink a day?
The answer - as much as you need to not feel thirsty, as most foods contain water, including meat and fish, and especially water-rich fruits and vegetables. A study has shown that caffeinated drinks (including coffee and tea) can help to hydrate the body as the diuretic effect of these drinks is weak.
However, be aware of the following
1. Drinking water helps balance body fluids. We are made up of about 60% water and the purpose of all this water includes digestion & absorption of nutrients, circulation & transport of nutrients, and regulation of body temperature.
When you feel thirsty, you should always listen to your body and drink. However, drinking alcohol does not quench your thirst. In fact, it interferes with the brain and kidney communication which actually makes the body get rid of fluids. This can lead to dehydration.
If you are drinking alcohol, a way to reduce hangovers is to drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks and before you go to bed, have at least one large glass of water.
2. Drinking water doesn’t have any effect at all on the number of calories you eat, but what it can do is help reduce calorie intake if you drink it rather than a calorific drink. If you eat water-rich foods, you will feel more full and this will help you to not eat so much. High water content foods have a larger volume which requires you to chew more. It is absorbed more slowly by the body which helps you to feel full for longer.
There was a study in which it was shown that drinking half a litre of water increased metabolism by 24-30% for up to 1.5 hours after drinking, so therefore drinking 2 litres of water can use about 96 calories.
Drink water half an hour before meals so that you are not so hungry and eat less. Another study showed that people who drank half a litre of water before meals over 12 weeks lost 44% more weight.
3. Lack of water causes muscles fatigue, so when you exercise it is important to drink, or your physical performance may suffer. It only takes a 2% water loss to impair your physical performance.
4. You can tell that you are getting sufficient water as your urine will be light in colour and odourless. When you’re not getting enough, your urine colour and odour will increase. This is due to the kidneys trapping the fluid it needs for bodily functions to continue.
5. Water is necessary to prevent constipation. The reason you get constipated when dehydrated is that the colon takes water from your stools which makes them more solid and compact, and they are therefore harder to pass. Fibre is also essential, as combines with fluid, it acts like a broom and keeps the bowel moving.
6. Water keeps the brain functioning as it should. With even a small amount of dehydration (1-3% of body weight), brain function can be impaired. This can be shown to affect mood and concentration, memory and anxiety.
Interestingly enough, to stop us from over-drinking, the body has a mechanism that regulates fluid intake. A study done by Monash University showed that the brain activates a 'swallowing inhibition' after excess fluids are consumed. This maintains a balance of water in the body.