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Water in the Diet
Water is "The Most Powerful Healing Substance Known to Man". The human body is primarily composed of water. Water is not only beneficial but also vital to life - only oxygen is more important to human survival. Water plays an enormous role in how well our body functions. Simply put, the more fresh water we drink, the healthier we become. Knowing all this, it never ceases to amaze me when I hear people saying they "forget" to drink water. Would these people need a reminder to breathe? Water increases not only the quality but also the length of our lives! Don't believe me? Let's take a closer look.
Water helps to:
- Relieve/Prevent: lower back pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, headaches, migraines, asthma, allergies, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, hypertension, cholesterol, hangovers, neck pain, muscle pain, joint pain, bloating, constipation, ulcers, low energy levels, stomach pain, confusion and disorientation.
- Maintain: muscle tone, weight loss, clear and healthy skin.
- Regulate: body temperature, remove toxins and wastes, cushion and lubricate joints, decrease risk of kidney stones, protect tissues, organs, and the spinal cord from shock and damage.
- Assist In: the digestion & absorption of food, and in transporting oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
There's no substitute for water!
Beverages that simply contain water aren't good enough. juice, soda, tea, coffee etc. counter the positive effects of water; some, in fact, may also be unhealthy. For example, drinks containing caffeine stimulate your adrenal gland and dehydrate and rob your body of important vitamins and minerals. Beverages containing lots of sugars stimulate the pancreas, boosting your insulin levels and taking your body out of its natural fat burning state. Sodas are a quadruple whammy. Colas, in particular, contain caffeine, sugar, sodium and acid that could eat through a dime. Have you ever tried the household remedy to a calcium and lime rusted toilet? Just let a bottle of soda sit in the toilet for a bit and presto -- a sparkling toilet! I'm not saying that you should completely eliminate these drinks from your diet. However, you may want to replace them with water whenever possible and at least keep them at a low to moderate level.
Water and Weight Loss
Drinking water may be the most important piece to the weight loss puzzle. Water contains no calories, fat, or cholesterol and is low in sodium. It is nature's appetite suppressant, and it helps the body to metabolize fat. Current research shows that low water intakes yield an increase in fat deposits. Conversely, a high water intake reduces the amount fat deposits. Without enough water, the kidneys cannot function properly. As a result, some of their workload is pushed off onto the liver, in turn preventing the liver from operating at peak levels.
How does all this tie into weight loss? Because metabolizing fat is a primary function of the liver, and because the liver can't function at peak levels when taking on the added workload from the kidneys, less body fat is metabolized and more is stored. This leads to either weight gain or reaching a plateau of weight loss. When dieting, we restrict the calories we take in, to some degree. By doing so, we lessen the total amount of water available to our bodies since about 30% of the average person's water intake comes from the food they eat. This gives us even more reason to raise our water intake.
Water and Water Retention
The best way to beat bloating is to give your body what it needs. Lots and lots of water! I'm always amazed to hear people say that they would rather not drink a lot of water because it "bloats" them or it makes them "retain water." In fact, the opposite is true. These people are retaining water because they're not drinking enough water! The human body functions in a "Primal Survival Mode" and it responds accordingly to anything it perceives as a possible threat to its survival. If you deprive your body of ample amounts of water, you are threatening its survival. In response, your body kicks into its "Primal Survival Mode" and holds onto every drop of water it possibly can for future needs and purposes. This water is often stored in extra-cellular spaces and appears as bloated hands, legs and feet.
If you're currently using or thinking of using diuretics to decrease water retention, think again. With diuretics, the damage is two-fold. Not only is the "Primal Survival Mode" activated, where your body hoards as much water as it can, but you are also draining your body of valuable vitamins and minerals! Check with your health care provider & Nutritionist before you change medication! If you have long-term water retention issues, you may be ingesting too much sodium (salt). Our bodies can only tolerate so much sodium. Thus, the more sodium you take in, the more water your body will retain to dilute the sodium concentrations. By simply cutting down on your sodium intake and drinking plenty of water, you'll notice considerably less bloating. The water will carry the excess sodium along for the ride as it flows through the kidneys.
Water and Metabolism
Water, also known as the body's solvent, regulates all bodily functions including the activities of circulating and dissolving. Every enzymatic and chemical reaction of the body occurs in the presence of water. Water also transports hormones, nutrients, oxygen and antibodies through the blood stream and lymphatic system. In addition, our bodies' proteins and enzymes are more efficient in solutions of lower viscosity (i.e., diluted), thus making drinking water a must.
Water and Digestion
Digestion of solid foods has to happen in the presence of large amounts of water so that proper digestion occurs. Water and muscle tone Desired muscle tone can be maintained through adequate water intake. Water not only helps the muscle achieve a better contraction, but it also prevents the sagging of skin that sometimes follows weight loss. Finally, water maintains clear, young and healthy skin.
Water and Waste
During weight loss, the body has much more waste to expel in the form of metabolized fat. Since water helps digestion and rids the body of waste, it only makes sense that more water is better.
Water and Constipation
When the body doesn't get enough water, it takes what it needs from internal sources. The colon is a primary internal source. When this happens, constipation usually follows. Normal function commonly returns along with proper hydration.
Water and Body Temperature
Water helps us maintain our body temperature through perspiration. Perspiration dissipates excess heat and cools our bodies. Without water, this delicate balancing act of the body is disrupted.
Water and Asthma
Histamine is a major factor in regulating the way we use and distribute water. It also helps control the body's defense mechanism. Asthmatics' histamine levels increase with dehydration, mobilizing their body's defense mechanism to close down their airways. Knowing this, we can draw the conclusion that asthma could be relieved through increased water intake.
Water and the Kidneys
Our kidneys remove wastes like uric acid, urea, and lactic acid to name a few -- all of which are dissolved in water. When there aren't adequate amounts of water, these wastes aren't removed effectively and kidney damage may result.
Water and Joints
Cartilage tissues between the vertebrae of the spine and at the end of long bones retain a lot of water. Cartilage needs water for the purpose of lubricating the body's joints during movement. When the cartilage is well hydrated, the two opposing surfaces glide freely and minimize damage to the joint caused by friction. Conversely, dehydrated cartilage increases friction forces to the joints, resulting in joint deterioration and pain.
Water and Back Pain
Minimizing back pain can be as simple as hydrating your body! The water stored in your spinal disc core supports approximately 75% of the upper body's weight. Your spine is dependent upon the hydraulic properties of water.
Water and Muscles
Muscles are primarily composed of water. Therefore, it's only logical to drink lots of water if you want to have more muscle mass. Furthermore, water removes wastes from and transports nutrients to the muscle cells, decreasing recovery time. Water also ensures that a proper muscle contraction can be achieved so that the working muscle is properly exhausted. Finally, bodybuilders tend to ingest a lot of calories, supplements and proteins, really taxing their kidneys in the process. Water takes some of the strain off the kidneys.
Water and the Brain
85% of brain tissue is water. The brain is about 1/50th of the body's total weight and it uses about 1/20th of the body's blood supply. Dehydration causes energy generation in the brain to decrease. In fact, studies have linked depression and chronic fatigue syndrome with dehydration.
Water and Migraines/Headaches
Dehydration is a major factor in causing headaches and migraines. In times of "heat stress" migraines are often signs of dehydration. To further complicate the matter, dehydration brings on stress and stress brings on dehydration.
Water and Pregnancy
Morning sickness is common in the first trimester of pregnancy. One reason for morning sickness is dehydration. It's a signal being sent by the fetus and the mother's body to the mother. What's the message? We need more water! When the mother isn't drinking enough water, she's dehydrating the baby and herself. This a result of the mother being the provider of water to the fetus during the intrauterine stage of cell expansion.
Don't obey your thirst!
The bodies "Thirst Reflex" is the last signal of excessive dehydration. By the time you become thirsty, the damage has already been done. Don't wait until you're thirsty! Constantly drink throughout the day! How much water should I drink? The non-active individual needs 1 oz. per pound of bodyweight, per day. For the average person who weighs 160 lbs. that comes to ten 8oz. glasses per day. This is just an average; you'll need to adjust these numbers to your activity level, environment, bodyweight, and diet. For cofee drinkers, add 2 glasses of water for every cup of coffee you drink daily. If you drink more than 6 cups of coffee per day, you should be living in a swimming pool!!
Yours in Wellness, Dr. George Grant