Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Regal Books
Released: January 2005
• Fill a pitcher with water and add several orange slices for a light, refreshing flavor.
• Always ask for water when dining out and try adding lemon or lime slices.
• Drink sparkling waters.
—Dr. Jody Wilkinson
Chapter 11: Water
By Carole Lewis
from The Divine Diet
"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water."
While water is not included in the Food Guide Pyramid, don’t ignore it. Next to air, water is the second most important element that humans need for survival. When we keep well hydrated, we perform at our best. And we feel great, too!
Most people have heard the healthy adage: Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Why so much? For starters, water makes up about 80 percent of our muscle mass, 60 percent of our red blood cells and more than 90 percent of our blood plasma. If we were stranded on a deserted island, we could go for weeks without food but only a few days without water.
Water does so much for the physical body. Here are just a few of its benefits:
• aids in the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients,
• helps regulate the chemical reactions in every cell of our bodies,
• transports nutrients and oxygen,
• flushes out the waste produced in normal bodily functions,
• helps to maintain a normal body temperature,
• facilitates proper bowel function and
• helps to maintain a proper fluid balance.
In the quest for healthy living, drinking plenty of water should be a top priority. In fact, if you are not currently drinking enough water, starting to do so will be one of the most significant lifestyle changes you can make.
Good Liquids Choices
All fluids and some foods count toward your daily total of water. So why choose water? Water is good for us, contains no calories, is low in sodium and contains no additives or stimulants. Substituting water for calorie-containing beverages is an important step in helping to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Nonfat milk and 100 percent fruit juices are also good choices—they’re packed with vitamins and minerals—however, we must count their calories. The caffeine in tea, soft drinks and coffee acts as a stimulant and a diuretic (i.e., causes a body to lose water); thus, caffeinated drinks are not always a good choice.
Our bodies lose about 8 to 12 ounces of water each day. To stay healthy and feel our best, we need to replace what our bodies lose. There is no magic in the number eight. Some people need a to drink a few more glasses; some fewer. Drinking water throughout the day helps keep us ahead of what we will lose.
Once you start drinking more water, your natural thirst for it will increase. With each glass you swallow, think about the physical benefits.
To make drinking water a habit, start by filling an 8-ounce measuring cup with water. In our supersized world, 8 ounces is probably not as much as you think. What size glass will you use for those 8 ounces? Another tactic is to fill a 2-quart (64-ounce) container with water each morning and by noon make sure you have only one quart left. You will be halfway to your goal!
You can keep a 2-quart pitcher of water on your desk or in your refrigerator for easy access. Additionally, you can place a water bottle in your car, take it to meetings and carry it with you when you exercise.
The Tap and the Bottle
Americans drink about 6.4 billion gallons of bottled water each year, and the amount increases each year.1 That is about 22.6 gallons per person.2 If drinking water from a bottle will motivate you to drink more, then bottled water is a good choice. However, don’t assume that it’s purer than tap water. In fact, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), some bottled water may not be any better than tap water—it may even be tap water! In a recent study, the group found that one-third of 103 tested brands of bottled water contained bacteria or other chemicals that exceed the industry’s own guidelines or state purity standards.
While bottled water is safe to consume, the NRDC noted that because bottling companies tout the health benefits of their water, consumers should get greater value for their money. Since the study was released, legislation has been proposed for stricter standards on bottled water. Tap water is regulated on a national level under provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974.
During the summer, you require more water because your body loses fluids through perspiration. If you live in a dry climate, your perspiration may evaporate more quickly, so you might not sense the need to drink water, even though your body is still losing it. Don’t wait for perspiration to be your warning sign to consume more liquids. The dry air in winter also increases your body’s need for water. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to start drinking; stay ahead of your thirst.
In addition to thirst, early signs of dehydration include the following:
• Loss of appetite
• Flushed skin
• Light-headedness and dizziness
• Muscle cramping
• Infrequent urination and urine that’s dark yellow
When playing sports or otherwise exerting yourself physically, pay close attention to your water intake. Make sure you drink at least 8 ounces before each activity and then another 8 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during the activity. You may need more if it’s hot outside. To find out how much water you need to replenish your exercise losses, weigh yourself before and after exercise—the difference is mainly water. Replace one pound of weight loss with 16 ounces of water.
While the number on the scale may look better, dehydration is not a healthy way to lose weight. Avoid using a sweat suit or rubberized clothing to increase sweating during exercise. This is a dangerous practice and the weight you lose is only water—not fat! Only 25 percent of your body fat is made up of water, whereas almost 80 percent of your muscle is water. Dehydration robs your body of the water it needs.
Unless you are an endurance athlete who trains for more than an hour, drink water rather than sports drinks.
1. “Bottled Water: More Than Just a Story About Sales Growth,” International Bottled Water Association (April 8, 2004). http://www.bottledwater.org/public/informat_main.htm (accessed October 28, 2004).
From The Divine Diet, © 2005 by Carole Lewis. Published by Regal Books, www.regalbooks.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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