I’ve actually completed 5 weeks!
Having just got to the end of week 5, I’m very glad to say that I have lost just less than 7 lbs in the last fortnight. I must admit that writing this blog has done wonders for keeping me motivated and on track. And I have learnt so much; far more than I was anticipating!
We made the switch to a plant based diet with relative ease and have enjoyed an array of wonderful new meals. It’s struck me how colourful everything is and how it all tastes so healthy and fresh. It certainly hasn’t been dull. I can honestly say I haven’t missed my meal replacement bars and shakes, and I won’t be looking back!
An aqueous question
Last week, I happened to be reading a chat in a slimming Facebook group. Some of the members claimed that they had experienced quite dramatic weight loss after having increased the amount of water they drank. They were adamant that they had not changed anything else about their diet or exercise routines.
This got me wondering if drinking more water can really cause such significant amounts of weight loss. So I thought I’d do a bit of research to see what I could find out.
It makes you burn calories
Drinking water apparently makes you burn calories. Every time you eat or drink, your body has to process whatever you have consumed. To do this, it burns calories. This is called “diet induced thermogenesis” and it works just as well if you drink water as it does for anything else you might eat or drink.
In this study, drinking about 16 ounces of water temporarily raised the participants’ metabolic rate by 30%. It goes on to say that by increasing water intake by 1.5 litres a day, you could burn an additional 200 calories a day.
This is even more effective if you drink very cold water as your body burns additional calories warming it up to body temperature.
Drinking water before a meal can help you eat less.
Have a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal and it could help you significantly reduce the amount you eat. In this study, researchers found a 13% decrease in the amount participants ate compared to those who did not drink water before their meal.
Interestingly though, KidneyCoach.com says that drinking a whole glass of water in one go puts too much pressure on our kidneys. He recommends sipping water slowly instead thought the day to maintain hydration.
Drinking water can help reduce water retention
Water retention (Edema) is a condition where the body stores excess water. It can be caused by many things such as a poor diet, sleep deprivation or disease. Women often suffer from it at points in their menstrual cycle and it can also be prevalent during pregnancy.
Water retention is not normally serious and it is usually only a temporary condition, But it can make you feel uncomfortable and sluggish.
It may seem bizarre, but increasing the amount of water you drink can actually cause your body to let go of any excess water it may be storing.
Your body depends on water for almost all of its functions. If you are dehydrated, then your body stores as much water as it can as a safety mechanism. By drinking water, you effectively rehydrate your body so it quickly releases any excess water it has stored.
So if you want to get rid of that bloated feeling, drink up!
Apart from increased weight loss, what other benefits can drinking water have?
Improves your skin
By staying well hydrated, you will keep your skin looking healthy. This is because water helps to replenish skin tissues, keeping it moisturised and improving its elasticity. Dehydrated skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.
When you don’t drink enough water, your body starts to function less efficiently and can become tired and sluggish. So if you are feeling tired, it could be a sign that you are in fact dehydrated.
Research has shown that even mild levels of dehydration can lower your mood and inhibit your ability to think clearly. So to keep yourself feeling perky and your thinking sharp, make sure you top up regularly with water.
Constipation can be caused by dehydration. If there is inadequate water in the body, then the colon pulls water from the stools in an attempt to maintain hydration. This makes them harder and more difficult to pass. Best make sure you keep your water levels topped up in order to keep things moving smoothly!
Deal with heartburn
Dehydration can cause the stomach to become overly acidic. This can lead to increased rates of heartburn and possible development of stomach ulcers. Rather than reaching for the Gaviscon next time you have heartburm , why not have a glass of water instead?
Reduce joint pain
The cartilage which is found in the joints and discs of the spine contain 80% water. Dehydration over prolonged periods of time can lead to the joints becoming less effective at shock absorption, which can result in joint pain. I met someone recently who had been suffering with chronic back pain. His osteopath advised that he increase his water consumption to ensure his discs became fully hydrated. Having done this, his pain levels have significantly decreased. So why not increase your water intake to help ease those aches and pains?
Removes toxins from the body
Water is brilliant at cleansing the body as it flushes out toxins and eliminates waste, primarily through sweat and urine.
Drinking water promotes kidney function, although excessive amounts of water may lead to a reduction in the kidney’s ability to filter out waste.
The leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of water. They are commonly reported in people who do not drink the recommended levels of water each day. Water can prevent their formation by diluting the salts and minerals in urine that cause kidney stones. Kidney stones can be excruciatingly painful, so if ever there was a reason to drink more water, this is it!
No more bad breath
If you suffer from bad breath, this this could be your solution. Bad breath is often a sign of dehydration. Water keeps your mouth moist and washes away all those unwanted food particles and bacteria. Oral bacteria create smelly particles which can linger in your mouth if not washed away regularly with water.
Helps keep allergies at bay
If you become dehydrated, your body apparently restricts your airways slightly in an attempt to minimise water loss. This can then potentially lead to asthma and allergies becoming worse.
By drinking plenty of water, you help to flush out allergens and reduce the amount of mucus which your body produces. This helps to reduce symptoms.
I have suffered with allergies for most of my life and have been taking daily antihistamines for years. I have often been concerned about the long term effects of this on my health, particularly given reports on the link between antihistamines and dementia.
Despite reassurances from my doctor that the risks as low, I have tried reducing my medications but have always then struggled with severe allergy symptoms, particularly at night.
It has therefore been a revelation to me to discover that a lack of water may be at the heart of my problem. This is a very interesting article which discusses the use of water and salt as a natural antihistamine. I will definitely be trying this for myself and will attempt to cut back on my medication. I will keep you posted on my progress.
How much water should you actually drink each day?
Now this is a tricky one, and I have found very opposing views.
According to the USDA, most women should consume around 2.7 litres of water per day, while most men need about 3.7 litres/day. According to them, about 20% of this should be consumed through moisture in food. This might vary slightly depending on factors such as age, gender, activity, climate, diet, medications and medical conditions. Even so, this equates to about 9 glasses of water a day for women and 12 for men, which seems like an awful lot to drink each day!
However, in this article, Professor Mark Whitely warns against drinking water in these quantities, saying it can cause problems such as insomnia and excessive sweating. He advocated only drinking when thirsty and actually not drinking anything at all in the two to three hours before bed.
The NHS’s Eatwell Guide recommends drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day. To me, this seems like the most sensible and safe option, but I’d love to know what you think.
The dangers of drinking too much water
There is a condition called water intoxication, which is also known as water poisoning or hyperhydration. This can be dangerous and is caused when a person drinks far more water than their body needs. This in turn leads to a dilution of the sodium in the blood, which effectively drowns the cells.
This article details two tragic cases where women died after drinking excessive amounts of water in a short space of time.
Young children can be particularly susceptible to this due to their small size.
It is therefore important to ensure that you drink your recommended quota of water gradually over a whole day and not all in one go..
How do I make sure I’m drinking enough water every day?
So I think it’s clear that drinking a decent but not excessive amount of water each day can be hugely beneficial to your health. The problem is that when you’re busy, it can be all too easy to forget to drink enough. I can often get to the end of the day and realise that I have only had my morning coffee! So if you are anything like me, how can you increase your water consumption to a more healthy level? These are some tips that I have found and which I will try:
- Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before each meal. Research shows that this can really help you to eat less too, resulting in significant additional weight loss.
- If you get bored of plain water, try some fruit infused water recipes to add a bit of variety.
- Try using an app such as Waterlogged to help you track your water intake.
- You can also record your water consumption on MyFitnessPal.com.
- Use a whiteboard on your kitchen wall to record how many glasses of water you have drunk. This is what I have started doing as I see it every time I go into the kitchen.
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink a glass of water at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Keep a bottle of water with you and take regular sips throughout the day. This will not only keep you hydrated, but it will also relieve pressure on your kidneys by not drinking large quantities in one go.
A word about alkalinity
Apparently not all water is created equal. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that consuming an alkaline diet can be hugely beneficial to health as it can help to combat a range of illnesses and diseases.
As this video shows, tap water and some bottled waters are in fact quite acidic. This could be a problem if you start increasing your intake of water. In an attempt to become healthier, you could inadvertently flood your system with acidity if you are not careful about the type of water you are drinking. To be honest, I am still drinking tap water, but having now discovered the potential adverse effects of doing so, I will be looking further into using filtered water instead. I’ll write about this in more detail in a future post, but for now it’s something to keep in mind.
So I think it’s clear from the evidence, that increasing your water intake can bring a range of health benefits and help you lose weight. Obviously, it’s important to be sensible and not overdo it in order to avoid the potential dangers. There’s also certainly good reason to choose alkaline water over regular tap water. I’ll be working on incorporating this into my life and will keep you posted on how I get on. I’d love to know your views and experiences too, so please do get in touch.
Until next time, happy drinking!