My clients often come to me with concerns about food, eating, and body weight. Fluids seem to be the last on the list of concerns, and they should be the first. This is because water is your body’s principal chemical component and it is essential for human survival. Dehydration can cause your death in three to five days.
Nearly 60% of your body weight is water. Every system in your body depends on water; water is critical for every chemical reaction of digestion and metabolism, for joint regulation, and for brain function. Water removes waste products from your cells, carries nutrients to the cells, regulates body temperature and helps you digest food. Water flushes toxins out of every cell of the body, and creates a moist environment for soft tissues, like those in your ears, nose and throat.
Water allows your kidneys to function and filter waste properly, eliminate it effectively and reduce constipation.
What upsets my clients the most is a change in their weight due to a shift in water. The body fluid balance is affected by many things, especially the weather. The number of moist, humid days we have been having, due to rain and snow followed by breezy and cool days, can cause shifts in our fluid balance. It is weight gain or loss on the scale, but it is not fat gain or loss. The flu, the common cold, infections of any kind, airplane trips, high salt foods, all can cause a measurable shift in the body weight due to shifts in your water balance. The immune system, especially, needs extra water to fight off infections. When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. Check the fit of your rings or the or the laces of your sneakers if you want a guess about the fluid in your body.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, which means you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Symptoms of dehydration can include fatigue, headaches, rapid heartbeat, light-headedness or dizziness, lack of energy, muscle weakness, dry mouth, eyes and lips. You may have less urine and dark-colored, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine.
With all that said, the body requires extra water in the process of weight loss and weight maintenance. Water is actually essential for permanent weight loss. Enough water may make you feel fuller and more satisfied, but water also helps the body metabolize stored fat. Your kidneys require water to function properly and dispose of fat and other waste products. When there is not enough water, the excess molecules are sent to the liver to be remetabolized and stored again, often as fat. And products which are not able to be fully metabolized, like sugar substitutes and some colors or preservatives, must be stored as well.
Your weight loss and sense of well-being are affected by the amounts of fluids you drink! Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
Opinions currently vary about the amount of water needed. Many authorities say that we should drink 8 to 10 cups of fluid per day, others say more or less. Another recommendation is to drink one half your body’s weight in pounds, in ounces of fluid. And you may need even more than 10 cups per day in early recovery, to wash out high sugar, high fat, or high salt foods, or your binge or trigger foods and their effects, and to stabilize blood volume.
It’s important that you get enough fluid that you urinate regularly; about every two to three hours, and that your urine is light yellow, straw colored. If it isn’t, or if you are ill, talk to your doctor, dietitian, or other trusted advisers about how to handle the situation.
On a daily basis, create a pattern for fluid intake to distribute it evenly through the day, and to have fluids at times convenient for you. You do not have to drink only water. You may also choose seltzer, flavored seltzer, sparkling water, or decaffeinated herbal teas. You may add lemon, lime or kiwi slices, or fresh mint leaves to your water to flavor it (one slice per 16-ounce cup counts as condiment); find fluids you enjoy; vary the fluids you drink, use cups or bottles that please you, and create a way of maintaining your fluid intake that works for you.
But what are some healthier options for adding a little pizazz to your water? Fresh fruits, veggies, and even herbs help add a punch of flavor naturally without adding calories. Here are a few ideas from berkeleywellness.com:
- Lemon or lime slices
- Chunks of watermelon or pineapple
- Sliced grapes or berries
- Cucumber slices plus a sprig of mint
- Grated ginger
- Cinnamon stick.
In my office and at home, I like to make Celestial Seasoning’s Black Cherry Berry or Country Peach Passion as iced teas. (Just six teabags in a two-quart pitcher will do it in two hours in the refrigerator; no need to even boil water!) And if you like, use ½ herbal tea and ½ plain seltzer! It is really very good.
Next week, I want to tell you about high fructose corn syrup! But join us tomorrow for Wacky Wednesday!
Have a good week and stay safe.
Blessings to you,