The wonders of water

Amanda
Amanda O'Brien
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Water. It's the crucial element to life, one which none of us can live without.

In fact, the human body is anywhere from 50-75 per cent water. With the hot weather of summertime finally here, it's a good opportunity for us all to look at our own fluid intake, and ask ourselves if we are getting enough.

If you're like most people, chances are you're not drinking enough. As I'm about to tell you, there are big benefits to drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated. One of those benefits might even include weight loss and management.

Staying hydrated helps to keep us healthy and energized. Water has many functions in the body, including controlling temperature and digestion, carrying nutrients around to needed organs and tissues, cushioning organs and joints, getting rid of waste (including keeping bowels and kidneys regular) and lowering the risk of dehydration and heat stroke.

Drinking enough water might do more than help you feel and function well. It's now thought it might even help you to keep weight off. A study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, had researchers review numerous studies that investigated the connection between water intake and body weight. They found that water drinkers do lose weight, significantly more weight, and they also take weight off more quickly in comparison to non-dieting, low-water-drinking counterparts.

Drinking more water certainly won't flush fat, but it will help to reduce your calorie intake. By drinking more water before, during and after meals, it's quite likely that you'll consume less caloric beverages like juices and soft drinks, and have a full stomach, meaning hunger will be prevented and it would be less likely that you'll overeat.

Research from the American Chemical Society shows that drinking two eight-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner while also cutting back on portions can help you lose weight and keep it off for a year or more. After a full year of the same regimen, the water drinkers continued to slim down while those not drinking water actually gained weight over time.

Eating less

Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that adults who drank a large glass of water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal. Seventy-five calories doesn't sound like a lot, but this deficit at lunch and dinner can lead to more than 14 pounds lost during one year!

Drinking water may help to reduce weight by increasing metabolic rate, a.k.a. the rate at which your body burns calories. A small study found that 10 minutes

after drinking 17 ounces of water, calorie-burning, (i.e.metabolism) increased by 30 per cent for both men and women. This effect is thought to be small overall, and not long lasting, however it is still an increase in the rate at which our bodies burn calories, and just one more incentive for us all to drink more water.

So, how much fluid a day do you need? Men need three litres, or

13 cups of fluid each day and women need 2.2 litres, or nine cups. Women who are pregnant need an additional one cup, and breastfeeding moms need an extra four cups of fluid per day.

The famous saying that you need eight glasses of water per day is actually a myth. Other fluids, like milk, juice coffee and tea also contribute towards a daily fluid intake. Soft drinks do contribute, but do avoid these as much as possible as their high calorie and sometimes caffeine content can be counterintuitive to drinking more fluid. Overall, caffeinated drinks should be limited to three cups or less per day. Caffeine does dehydrate you slightly, but alcohol much more so. For hot summer days with beers and coolers, be sure to have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have.

To keep yourself hydrated throughout the summer, try some of the following tips.

Start each morning with a large glass of water. While at work, keep a glass of water by your desk or on hand where you work. Keep a bottle or water on you at all times throughout the day. Make it a habit to have a glass of water before and during each of your meals. In  addition to before and during, have some fluid with each of your meals. If you're not a big fan of water, try adding some lemon, lime, favorite sliced berries or cucumber to water to add refreshing calorie-free taste.

Amanda Burton is a registered dietitian in St. John’s. Contact her through the

website: www.recipeforhealth.ca.

Organizations: American Journal, American Chemical Society, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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