Our physicians, the media and even our friends continually tell us what we need to do to become stronger and healthier. For some of us, all this nudging to make immediate and major lifestyle changes becomes stressful. But there are some smaller things we can change that will make a big difference without hurting our wallets or taking chunks of our time. Drinking water is an easy way to aid weight loss, detoxify, provide the body with what it needs, and make us feel good about ourselves.
Over half of the human body is made up of water. Water is essential to a variety of bodily functions ranging from oxygen transport and immune system stability to digestion. Water helps you sweat to cool yourself, carries toxins from the body through elimination, cleans out internal systems and keeps blood flowing everywhere it needs to go.
Almost every process in the body relies on water to work. Some processes are totally dependent on water, like the kidney function of removing uric acid and urea, which must be dissolved in water. Without proper hydration of the kidneys, kidney stones develop.
The lungs need water, not just because oxygen is carried within the blood stream, which is made up of mostly water, but because the lungs must be moist to complete the process of taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.
The lymph nodes produce a fluid that is used to help fight off infection, and the fluid is made up of mostly water. The areas around joints contain lubricants that are mostly water, and muscles have to be hydrated to move properly and without pain.
One of the most talked about functions of water is the ability to help people lose weight. Water itself is not a diet drink containing some magic chemical, but if you’re drinking water, it means you’re not drinking something else with more calories, sugar or salt. Soda, coffee and alcohol are often regular parts of daily diets, but though they contain water, these drinks are actually dehydrating. To process the ingredients, they require that the body use up some of its water supply, and they do not replace any of that supply. Fruit juices or non caffeinated sodas like ginger ale contain large amounts of sugar which can be avoided by drinking water.
According to a 2004 study by Michael Boschmann, MD, as reported in USA Today, he and his research colleagues at the Berlin Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center found that when you consume a glass of water, your metabolic rate jumps momentarily. “When you take a sip, your body processes that input, sending hydration throughout your system and heating the water along the way, which burns calories,” Boschmann explained.
Water has no calories, fat or sugar, and you can drink it throughout the day. Many experts recommend various amounts of water that should be consumed on a daily basis, with the average amounts being 8 to 10 eight ounces glasses each day, and more if you have an active lifestyle. Drinking water throughout the day can distract you from eating as much, making you feel satisfied without as much snacking as usual. And it occupies your hands and mouth.
Once you begin to drink water regularly, you will realize that you crave it more than other drinks. Water is a natural thirst quencher, providing much of what the body needs to survive. The more you drink it, the more you’ll want it, and calories from other drinks won’t affect you any longer. Your systems will work more smoothly, and you will be on the road to better health.
Leroy J. Perry, for Parade, “Think You’re Drinking Enough Water?”
Wanda Leibowitz, for USA Today, “5 Reasons You Should Drink Water for Weight Loss.”
Mary L. Gavin, MD, Kidshealth.org