Last week, I promised to start a series on the nutrients the body needs, and what the body needs to keep it strong, healthy, and functioning well. So today is my first topic. For those of you who may be struggling with food related issues, you might try adding just one component per week, till you get yourself back on track. If you are on track, then use this information to keep you there more solidly and comfortably.
So why does the body need water? And how much? And what kinds? And how does water function in the body? First, water is the “trash truck” of the body. All of the wastes, impurities, and leftover nutrients are washed out of the body with water.
Indeed, water is probably the single most important part of losing weight and keeping it off. When fat is burned in the muscles or organs, the end product is named ketone bodies. They are sent to the kidneys. If there is not enough water to wash them out of the kidneys, the ketone bodies, and other trash, are sent back to the liver to be re-metabolized. Ketones contain ammonia; their weight is 20-30 percent of the weight of the fat cell; without enough water to wash out the ketones, you lose the ability to lose about 20-30 percent of your fat loss. And one study found that drinking cold water can increase the metabolic rate by 30%! That would increase your weight loss!
One of the liver’s prime functions is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body. But if the liver has to do some of the kidney’s work, it cannot operate at full speed. So, it slows down its other functions, metabolizes less fat and less other products the body needs. And you lose weight more slowly.
Water also helps reduce fluid retention. (Yes, I said that – less water makes the body retain more fluid.) A primary goal of the body is survival. When the body feels there isn’t enough water, it perceives this as a threat to its survival, and holds on to every drop. It stores this in spaces outside and between cells. That looks like swollen ankles, feet, hands, and tummy.
Diuretics are designed to force stored water out of the body, along with some essential nutrients. The body again perceives this as a threat to its survival and will replace the lost water at its earliest opportunity. So, the best way to solve this problem is to drink more water.
Water helps maintain muscle tone by aiding the muscle’s natural ability to contract, helping make all your movements easier.
Water can wash all sorts of trash out of the body: artificial colors and flavors and other harmful or benign additives that would be stored in your joints, can be washed out with water. As you lose weight, water removes the remains of the fat cells. And one study found that drinking cold water can increase the metabolic rate by 30%! That would increase your weight loss!
Water can help relieve constipation. The colon uses water to dissolve soluble fibers; this makes them “plump up” and makes your stools softer and easier to pass.
Often thirst masquerades as hunger. Watermelon, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, zucchini, strawberries, tomatoes, and grapefruit are some foods that contain a large percentage of water. I know, these are not the foods we usually reach for when we feel hungry. But they are also high nutrient foods and belong in our daily diets. And when you feel hungry and aren’t sure why, try a glass of cold water.
Endocrine gland functions depend on the water supply. This means that hormones produced by the pituitary gland regulate water balance in the body and sodium levels in the blood. It conserves body water by reducing the amount of water lost in urine.
The kidneys can adjust the concentration of the urine to reflect the body’s water needs, conserving water if the body is dehydrated or making urine more dilute to expel excess water when necessary. ADH is a hormone that helps the body to retain water by increasing water reabsorption by the kidneys. The main job of your kidneys is to regulate the amount of water in the body and balance the concentration of mineral ions in the blood. These hormones play key roles in regulating fluid and electrolyte balance.
Potassium and sodium regulate blood pressure; and they are intimately involved in bone health. The levels of electrolytes in your body can become too low or too high. This can happen when the amount of water in your body changes. The amount of water that you take in should equal the amount you lose. If something upsets this balance, you may have too little water. Too little calcium also can affect many areas of the body, especially the balance of sugars in the blood, and the functioning of sodium, potassium and calcium in the rest of the body, especially the heart. These levels are all controlled by the amount of water you consume each day.
A survey of more than 3000 Americans found that 75% of us are regularly dehydrated! Even though we may drink eight or more servings of water per day, this is compromised by drinking caffeine and alcohol, and eating a high salt diet; these all pull water from the body.
And dehydration makes us feel more fatigue, whether we are exercising or sedentary. Fatigue is a common symptom of dehydration. When you feel thirsty, dehydration is already beginning. Even mild dehydration can put stress on your brain functioning; it can cause foggy memory, anxiety and irritability.
You also need extra fluids when you are exercising intensely or when you are struggling with a cold or other virus-born illness.
Water is absolutely essential to our survival, and to creating the joyful useful lives we all want.
How much water should you drink? On average, eight 8 ounce glasses a day. If you are struggling with a weight problem, some authorities recommend dividing your weight by 2, and drinking that many ounces. That feels like a lot to some of us; but it is essential.
If you want more flavor in your water, try adding lemon, lime or kiwi slices; cucumber, celery, strawberries, and watermelon slices also work.
Please do not be adding artificial sweeteners to your water; I will tell you why next week!
Hope you are enjoying this first week of September; please call me if you need help. Share this with anyone you wish, and do send me a comment; I just love to hear from you!
Blessings to you,