Life’s Precious Liquid​—Water

TO A Samaritan woman drawing water from a well, Jesus spoke of a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life. (John 4:14) While the water he referred to is symbolic, in a literal sense water is essential to life, being second only to oxygen in this regard. One can survive for several weeks without food but only about five days without water!

Up to three quarters of our body weight is water. For example, the brain is 75 to 85 percent water, and the muscles are 70 percent. Among other things, water helps us to digest and absorb food, carrying nutrients to the cells. It removes toxins and other waste, lubricates joints and the colon, and regulates body temperature. But did you know that drinking enough water is also a factor in weight loss?

Drink Water to Lose Weight

First of all, water has no calories, is fat-free and cholesterol-free, and is low in sodium. Second, it is an appetite suppressant. Third, water helps the body to metabolize stored fat. How? Well, when the kidneys do not have enough water, they cannot function properly. The liver steps in as a backup, but doing so hinders its ability to metabolize fat effectively. The fat thus remains stored in the body, and you gain weight. Hence, as Dr. Donald Robertson of the Southwest Bariatric Nutrition Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.A.,  says, “proper water intake is a key to weight loss. If people who are trying to lose weight don’t drink enough water, the body can’t metabolize the fat adequately.”

True, water retention is often responsible for weight gain. Hence, many who are prone to water retention think that the solution is to reduce their water intake. The contrary is true, however. When the body experiences a water deficit, it attempts to hold on to every available drop by storing it in such places as the feet, the hands, and the legs. So nutritionists recommend that we give our body what it needs​—enough water. And remember, the more salt you eat, the more water you will retain to dilute it.

Hydrate Your Body

Each day, on average, some two quarts [2 L] of water is eliminated through the skin, lungs, intestines, and kidneys. We lose approximately one pint [0.5 L] of liquid every day just by exhaling. If this water is not replaced, we will become dehydrated. Some signs of dehydration are headache, fatigue, muscle soreness, dark urine, heat intolerance, and dry mouth and eyes.

So how much water should we drink? Dr. Howard Flaks, a bariatric (obesity) specialist, says: “The minimum for a healthy person is eight to ten eight-ounce [quarter-liter] glasses a day. You need more if you exercise a lot or live in a hot climate. And overweight people should drink an extra glass for every 25 pounds [10 kg] they exceed their ideal weight.” However, some now say that it is enough to drink water when you are thirsty, although if you are very thirsty, you may already be somewhat dehydrated.

Can other beverages be taken instead of water? While fruit and vegetable juices diluted with water are good, they are not calorie-free. Also, liquids loaded with sugar and milk increase the body’s need for water, as water is needed to digest them. And alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages like coffee and tea are mildly diuretic, making it necessary to drink more water to replace what is excreted. There is just no substitute for that precious liquid, water. So how about drinking a glass right now?

[Box/Picture on page 13]

Tips for Increasing Water Intake

● Carry a water bottle.

● Drink a glass with every meal.

● Drink before, during, and after exercise.

● Take water breaks instead of coffee breaks.

● To improve the taste of tap water, add lemon juice or use a filter.

[Picture Credit Line on page 12]