By Jennifer Roche
Saturday, July 21, 2012.
Think of a well-tuned mechanism like a car engine or a clock. It can’t run effectively without lubrication and eventually seizes up. The same analogy can be applied to the human body, water is the ideal lubrication to keep it working properly. So, does drinking water help you lose weight? Understanding what water does for us and how it can be used to achieve good health and effective weight loss is invaluable.
The human body is 60% water and if we don’t drink enough, we become dehydrated. Your body sees this as a threat to its survival and retains fluid as a consequence, causing weight gain and bloating. Caffeine, commonly found in tea, coffee and coke only makes the problem worse because they act as diuretics which drives water out of the body and causes even more dehydration. The same goes for alcohol and this explains the ‘morning after’ feeling and dry mouth when we drink too much. Cutting down on caffeine and alcohol and upping our intake of water and water-filled foods such as fruit, vegetables and legumes can help us to regain our natural fluid balance.
Another reason to drink water is to boost your metabolism. The kidneys filter toxins but when the body is dehydrated, they can’t function efficiently and the liver takes some of the load. As the liver normally metabolises fat, it can’t do this as effectively and this can lead to weight gain. If you drink enough water, both organs work properly and your body will function better, resulting in weight loss.
Dehydration causes fatigue, reduced energy levels and hunger-like feelings. A lot of the time, people mistake thirst for hunger pangs and eat instead of drink. Water is a natural appetite suppressant, so drinking a glass of water when you feel hungry may take care of the problem and keep you hydrated.
Excess salt or sodium intake can also contribute to dehydration and fluid retention. As salt is added to so many processed foods these days, it’s worth being label-conscious. Eating fresh, unprocessed foods is the best way to avoid salt but if you do buy ready-meals, look for the low-salt varieties.
But how do I drink enough water? I hear you ask. I know 2 litres of water sounds like a lot when you picture a large plastic bottle or a line of water-filled glasses. Really, it’s not when you stretch it over a whole day. Start your day with a glass of water. If you don’t like it cold, a nice drink is a cup of hot water with honey and lemon. It makes a good tonic for the liver too. Have a glass of water with each meal. That’s another three. Swap a couple of your normal cups of tea or coffee for decaffeinated varieties or drink herbal or fruit teas instead. Before you know it, you will have your quota. If you are out and about, take a bottle of water and sip from it as you go. Choose water instead of fizzy mixers if you go to the pub. Double up on your fruit, vegetables and legumes and you get even more water. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Even if you don’t like the taste of water, a little sugar-free cordial will sweeten it but pure really is best.
Drinking water has numerous health benefits and nobody should drink water solely for weight loss. It boosts your metabolism, helps you feel more alert, encourages your digestive system and bowels to work more efficiently. It can give your skin a healthy glow and make your hair shine. Think of drinking water as part of your beauty regime. Drink water for a healthier body. Drink water for a better life!