Water is one of the most important nutrients and often overlooked for detoxification, losing body fat, and optimal health. Your body is approximately 70 percent water, your brain tissue approximately 75 percent water, and your blood is 83 percent water.
Many people are chronically dehydrated and consume a majority of their calories from sugary, caffeinated beverages. You can become dehydrated from an intense workout, excessive sweating, too much alcohol consumption, working outdoors in the heat, use of OTC drugs, when you’re sick (disease, diarrhea, vomiting), starvation, or just not consuming enough water.
Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, poor concentration, headaches, low back pain, constipation, Charley horses and dry skin.
A few benefits of water are:
• Helps lower elevated cholesterol
• Weight maintenance aiding with fat loss
• Eliminates waste and flushes out toxins
• Central nervous system and brain function
• Regulates body temperature
• Transport nutrients
• Lowers cortisol
• Boosts metabolism
• Lubricates your spine, bones, joints and muscles
• Stimulates digestion
Before meals, enjoy a cup or two of water with the fresh juice from a lemon or lime. Doing so creates an alkaline environment and is helpful for digestion. In a study, those who drank two cups of water before each meal lost an average of 5 pounds more weight over a 12-week calorie controlled diet than those who followed the same diet but did not drink the water.
To avoid BPA and other chemicals from water in plastic bottles, store your water in a glass bottles. Better yet, consider installing a reverse osmosis water filtration system in your home to filter your water from impurities such as fluoride, contaminants, and chemicals.
Ten popular U.S. bottled water brands contain mixtures of 38 different pollutants, including bacteria, fertilizer, Tylenol and industrial chemicals, some at levels no better than tap water, according to laboratory tests recently conducted by Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The bottle water industry has also contributed to one of the biggest environmental problems facing the world today. Only one-fifth of the bottles produced by the industry are recycled. The remaining four-fifths pile up at landfills, litter our neighborhoods and foul our oceans.
Monitor intake of other fluids:
• Caffeine. Drink less coffee. A few cups are OK, although make sure it’s organic Arabic coffee to reap the health benefits of coffee. Drink more green and white tea before 1 p.m.
• Soda. This is a no-brainer. All soda, including diet should be avoided.
• Fruit juices. Limit/avoid your intake of commercial fruit juices. The majority of these are calorically dense, void of fiber, full of sugar and HFCS. Fruit juices will decrease insulin sensitivity and increase that muffin top look.
• Alcohol. Moderate alcohol intake is defined as a 4-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1/2-ounce of hard liquor. Alcohol is high in empty, non-nutritious calories, which tends to be stored in the mid-section. Most liquor is made from corn or wheat and is trouble for those with hidden food sensitivities.
Plus, alcohol is estrogenic, adding to hormonal disruption, bloating, and in excess it negatively alters your mood, skin, sleep and waistline. If your desire is to lose body fat and maintain hormonal balance, limit your alcohol intake.
Alcohol, in excess, is a toxin to the body. Heavy drinking affects your brain, and increases your risk of cancer, diabetes, pancreatitis, fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis.
If you regularly drink 3 to 4 pints of beer a day, two to three glasses of wine or three to four shots — you’re a heavy drinker. The liver is an amazingly resilient organ, however, you can abuse your liver for years and seem fine until one day the damage is serious.
• Water. Formula to help you determine the number of ounces of water you should be drinking every day. It is not the same amount of water for each of us (i.e.: we often hear that we should drink eight 8-ounce glasses daily). Take your body weight and multiply by .7 — this provides you with the number of ounces for you specifically to drink every day.
10 top hydrating foods include:
• Cucumbers and watermelon — 96 percent water.
• Blueberries, pineapple, broccoli, dark leafy greens — 95 percent water.
• Tomatoes — 94 percent water
• Cantaloupe — 92 percent water
• Grapefruit — 90 percent water
• Pears — 89 percent water
Give your water a refreshing flavor, add any of the following:
• Unprocessed sea salt (for increased mineral content, nourishing for the adrenal glands, and helps your body actually absorb water)
• Lemon or lime slices
• Cucumber slices
• Fresh Mint
• Ginger root
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of two books, “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” She is a nutritionist and fitness expert with more than 25 years of experience, and creator of “21 Days to a Leaner, Healthier You,” an online exercise and fat-loss program. Visit Paula at www.PaulaOwens.com.