FINALLY THE REAL DEAL ABOUT WATER INTAKE
CONFUSED WITH ALL THE CONFLICTING MESSAGES? Drink MORE — drink LESS… Have on an empty stomach… Have with food…
Read on… and get the real deal about water intake
WHY DO I NEED WATER?
Water makes up approximately 65% of our body weight, we need to drink water daily to replace water lost due to body functions such as perspiration, breathing, urinating, and bowel motions. It is essential to keep our skin, hair and nails moisturized, it’s used to regulate our body temperature and heart rate, it transports nutrients around the body and helps the kidneys and liver break down toxins for elimination.
And for DIGESTION it is super important. The body uses 9 litres of water to keep digestion running smoothly. It’s essential for peristalsis (movement of food in the intestines) and the dilution of Chyme (stomach contents) for absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. That doesn’t mean you have to drink 9 litres every time you eat a meal, but that’s what your body sucks out of you to get digestion moving!
WHAT COUNTS TOWARDS WATER INTAKE?
You’ll probably be happy to hear that black tea and/or coffee actually count towards water intake. But before you get too excited… a 20081 study indicated that caffeine results in a mild increase of urine production so for every cup of coffee/tea drunk you’re probably only getting the benefit of ½ a cup or less of water. And remember this only counts if they are black!
Broths, some herbal teas, vegetable juices, smoothies, fruit and vegetables also count towards water intake but not the full one cup. Watery fruits and vegetables e.g. melons, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, lettuce, celery and cucumbers are over 90% water so they count more.
WHAT TAKES AWAY FROM MY BODY’S WATER LEVEL?
Alcohol is a huge dehydrator so when you’re out drinking try and alternate every second drink with a glass of water and food.
Also, some herbal teas, such as celery seed, dandelion and parsley seed, are diuretics which means that they expel more urine, so you’ll need to drink a little more water to make up for the loss.
If you eat a high protein diet then you will need to drink a lot more water as it’s needed to break down the nitrogen content of protein.
Canned and packaged foods, take-away foods, soy sauce, stock cubes, cured meats, sauces and salad dressings, just to name a few, are high in sugar and salt which reduce the body’s water levels significantly.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
Yellow urine, Fatigue, Poor concentration, Constipation, Increased hunger, Headaches, Dry skin, Chapped lips, Saggy skin, Dizziness
DOES WATER HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS?
Yes, yes and YES!! A 20082 study showed that an increase in drinking water was linked to a decrease in body weight and a study conducted in 20103 revealed that 500 mls of water (2 cups) consumed before meals showed a 2 kg greater weight loss over a 12 wk. period.
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I BE DRINKING?
There’s never been a definitive answer given by science, however an article in the 2012 Journal for Drugs and Medicines 4 recommendeds that you should drink 1 litre (33 fl.oz) of water for every 30 kg (66lbs) of body weight. But remember there is NO single formula that fits everyone as it depends on factors such as…
- Body weight
- Where you live, those living in warmer and humid climates tend to sweat more, which results in more fluid loss.
- During activities such as saunas
- Working or sleeping in an air-conditioned/heated room
- When suffering from a cold or flu
- When experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting
- During pregnancy or breast-feeding, additional fluids are needed to stay hydrated
And understand that you can eat your water!! Many fruits and vegetables, e.g. lettuce, cucumber, watermelon, spinach are around 90% water by weight!!
But the best guides are — frequency of urination and colour of urination — you want to be hitting the ‘loo’ (toilet) every couple of hours and looking at your wee (pee). It should be a pale straw colour NOT clear.
CAN YOU DRINK TOO MUCH WATER?
You may think guzzling huge amounts of water (4, 5 or 6 litres a day) and having clear urine equates to ‘healthy’ but this is NOT the case. You see, if you’re drinking copious amounts of water, and an hour or two later your urine is clear, then it means the water has just slipped right through you.
In fact, guzzling large amounts of water constantly basically results in most of that water being excreted. And don’t be misled into thinking by drinking ALL this water that you are ‘flushing out toxins’, because although urine does transport waste out of the body, having MORE does NOT improve or speed up in this process.
In fact… ‘Over-hydration’ is NOT healthy and it could actually spell trouble for you…
Our brain has a ‘thirst control centre’ that helps control our water intake. Generally, when you drink too much water, your control centre kicks in and makes it arduous to drink any more – a sign you’ve had enough.
BUT… with those who constantly drink too much… it can over-ride this control centre. When this happens, the body’s sodium levels drop and can cause ‘hyponatremia’ – this is where the body starts to retain the excess water and cells become ‘water logged’. This can lead to dizziness, fatigue, lethargy and… even more thirst!!
And when combined with other factors such as stress, medications or heat the signal that causes the kidneys to excrete excess water is turned off. As you can imagine this can be dangerous. In fact, endurance athletes are advised to be strict with their water intake during a long run (marathon) due to the dangers of drinking too much fluid.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DRINK WATER?
There are SO many conflicting articles right? Some say ALWAYS drink on an empty stomach, other say drink ALL the time, others say DON’T drink when eating a meal as it dilutes gastric juices.
So which one is true?
Well all of them have some some truth…. Let me explain…
YES you should drink water — on your EMPTY stomach especially after 6-8hrs of no fluids — because the body has become dehydrated. You see your stomach may be empty (cos food has left there after 2-3hrs) but there is still food in your digestive tract and it needs water to help it move through and improve absorption of nutrients (see next point).
The best way to hydrate the body first thing in the morning is to drink water on an empty stomach as it passes through the digestive tract into the large intestine and enters your bloodstream fairly quickly.
But… Cold or Warm water?? There is no real evidence to show that either is good or bad, but according to Ayurvedic medicine, because the body is a steady 36.5–37.5 °C (97.7–99.5 °F), drinking room temperature or warm water — or even warm water, has a positive effect on the digestive system.
Personally, I have a warm glass of water with lemon in it, and then follow with another glass of warm water.
In regard to the claim… “Don’t drink when eating a meal”… There are many unsubstantiated claims about drinking water with meals. Some believe it dilutes secretions of Hydrochloric acid (HCL) in the stomach or weakens digestive enzymes hampering digestion. There is no evidence of this.
Having a glass or two of filtered tap water before, during or after meals is fine and can actually assist the breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients. However, AVOID guzzling cups and cups of water while eating as it can leave you feeling bloated.
The BEST way to drink water is in small amounts throughout the day and also combine it with a meal or snack. Having water along with food – especially fibrous foods – helps the body to retain more of the water and maintain the body’s hydration levels.
DOES WATER HELP TO IMPROVE THE ABSORPTION OF NUTRIENTS?
Absolutely!! It is a MUST for proper digestion as it helps with the transportation and absorption of nutrients. It also helps to eliminate waste products.
WHAT TYPE OF WATER IS BEST?
The best water to drink is filtered water. Research indicates that chemicals such as Chlorine and Fluoride alter the symbiotic relationship with the gut microflora and can negatively affect health. Martin Blaser from the New York University School of Medicine states, “I know that chlorination of water impedes the spread of pathogens, but another thought is that it impedes the spread of commensals” he explained . Commensals are you own core beneficial bacteria.
Carbonated water – e.g. SODA WATER- has been shown to increase the hunger hormone ‘Ghrelin’. While the study was done on male rats it concluded that consuming gaseous beverages as opposed to tap water resulted in weight gain. When Ghrelin is elevated, so is food intake .  So avoid the fizzy water, leave that for special occasions and going out.
What about Alkalising water? Regardless of whether you drink alkalisng water, the body has it’s own buffering system that maintains its body’s Acid-Alkaline balance. We think if we pump in alkaline water it’s a good thing… but keep in mind that overall body alkalinity isn’t a good thing. Alkalizing minerals can also accumulate in the body. Causing what we term as ‘Alkalosis’ which causes negative side effects.
Rather than using (expensive) water to correct the imbalance, it is better to look at the underlying cause of acidity and inflammation. To assist the body in not having to keep drawing on the body’s reserves to maintain its homeostasis (pH.) It as simple as eating Alkaline-forming foods (plant based foods) and not Acid-forming foods (animal based foods, processed foods, alcohol etc. the list goes on)
If you’re too lazy to eat a diet of predominantly plant-based foods, then sure, knock yourself out and buy a ridiculously expensive water system, however it’s not going to fix your health. If you’re ok with munching on fruit, veggies, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains etc. then an under-the-counter water filter will do a great job of filtering out chemicals.
And P.S. The reason that so many people report that they have Increased Energy, Improved Digestion, Reduced Pain, Improved Sleep and much more while drinking Alkalised water is that they are now drinking a sh#t-load more water which naturally improves all of these things.
TIPS TO HELP YOU REMEMBER TO DRINK ENOUGH WATER
Firstly… remember… a slow and steady approach to drinking water, and combining with food at times, is FAR more effective than guzzling litres of water a day.
- Start your day with a large glass of warm water with ½ lemon juiced into it. You get a glass of water and the lemon helps to alkalise your body.
- Attach drinking a glass of water (or a herbal tea) to an action e.g. every time you go to the toilet drink a glass of water – I call this the Wee, Water, Wee method. It’s one of my favourites!
- Set a reminder on your phone to go off during the day every hour on the hour. Or set a reminder on your outlook calendar to go off every hour while you’re at work. And combine it with your healthy fruit snack!
- Wear 8 bracelets or 8 elastic bands on your arm. Every time you drink a glass of water move the bracelet/band to the other arm. Every time you look at your arm you’ll remember to drink. 8 cups of water a day (250ml/8.4fl.oz) = 2 litres (4 pints) of water!!
- Carry a water bottle with you (preferably metal or glass) and put 5 elastic bands around it. As you finish each water bottle, move up one of the elastic bands. That way you can monitor your water intake.
- There are apps for your phone that help you remember. ‘Waterlogged’ for iPhone or ‘Water your body’ for Android.
- If you do drink a lot of tea and coffee ensure you drink a glass of water while you’re making it, and then have another glass of water once you’ve finished it!
- Use a straw in your glass, funnily enough we tend to drink more when using a straw!
- Every time you feel hungry have 2 glasses of water. Thirst often masquerades as hunger.
- If you sit at a desk all day, buy a 2 litre jug and fill it up at the beginning of the day and drink slowly throughout the day, and also combining with snacks, meals.
- Freeze the peel of lemon, oranges or limes and then pop them in your glass.
- If you feel like something sweet, mix half a teaspoon of raw unprocessed honey into your water.
- 10 minutes before a meal or snack, drink a glass of water then drink another glass during your meal.
- Try herbal teas, they count as a glass of water.
- Buy one of those camel bags that fit into your backpack and sip water throughout the day.
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Is Caffeine Considered a Diuretic and Should My Clients Increase Their Fluid Intake to Compensate for This Effect? (2008)
- Stookey JD, Constant F, Popkin BM, Gardner CD. Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008;16(11):2481–2488.
- Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, et al. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010; 18(2):300–307.
- Philip, Subash (07/12/2012). “Water Cure”. Hygeia, journal for drugs & medicine (0975-6221), 4 (2), 1a.
- Clark, William F (2014). “Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to be healthy”. Home healthcare nurse (0884-741X), 32 (4), 237.
- Hunter, P. (2012). The changing hypothesis of the gut: The intestinal microbiome is increasingly seen as vital to human health. EMBO Reports, 13(6), 498–500. http://doi.org/10.1038/embor.2012.68.
- Eweis, D., Abed, F., Stiban, J. (2007) .Carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages induces ghrelin release and increased food consumption in male rats: Implications on the onset of obesity. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. Volume 11, Issue 5.