So many of us are looking for ways to lose weight and/or improve our general health and energy levels. We collectively spend millions on fad diets, medicines, supplements, energy drinks and superfoods, all with little long-term success. Interestingly, as our search continues, we can easily disregard the cheapest and most important substance of all – WATER!
As incredible as it may seem, water is the single most important ingredient for health and long-term weight loss. Although most of us take it for granted, it is the one true ‘magic potion’ we have been looking for, and those who struggle to drink enough, are most often the ones who experience the greatest challenge with their health and weight.
The reason water is so important is that it is the basis of all life, including our bodies. The muscles that move us are 75% water; the blood that transports our nutrients is 82% water; the lungs that provide us with oxygen are 90% water; the brain that controls us is 76% water and even the bones that support us are 25% water. It is no wonder that our health and weight is truly dependent on the quality and quantity of the water we drink.
However, you may be surprised to discover that the majority of people around the world live in a state of mild to severe dehydration. This is because most people don’t drink water until they feel thirsty, and by this point they are already at least 2% dehydrated. As the functionality of our body, our cognitive ability and our mood is significantly hindered by as little as a 1% drop in total body water, it is easy to see why poor health, due to a lack of water, is so prevalent. With regards to weight and energy, water is also a vital component of metabolism, and therefore, when there is insufficient water, calorie burning capacities dramatically reduce, leading to weight gain, and energy output also decreases, leading to fatigue.
The average person in the UK drinks around 1.7L per day, which is well below the 2.5L (for males) and 2L (for females) that is recommended by most leading health organisations. So, if you are trying to improve your health, weight and/or energy, and are currently drinking less than the recommended intake, make drinking healthy fluids your first priority. The majority of your fluid intake, should come from filtered water or herbal teas, but you can also include a couple of cups of other healthy fluids each day, including:
• Hot lemon (max 1 cup as it’s acidic on teeth)
• Fruit teas (max 1 cup as it’s acidic on teeth)
• Green/white/black/chai/pu’erh tea (max 2 cups as it contains caffeine)
• Organic coffee (max 1 cup as it’s high in caffeine)
• Organic decaf tea/coffee (max 1 cup due to undesirable processing methods)
• Diluted 100% vegetable juices (be mindful of the sugar content)
• Coconut milk (be mindful of the fat content)
• Coconut water (be mindful of the sugar content)
To maximise the positive effects of healthy fluids, you should also consider the following recommendations:
• Filtered water contains less contaminants than tap and bottled water, so use a counter-top or fitted water filter where possible.
• Avoid cold water. Water is absorbed most efficiently at room temperature or warm (50-72℃).
• Your intestines cannot absorb more than about 200ml every 15 minutes, so avoid drinking large quantities of fluid at any one time. Little and often is the key.
• Large quantities of fluid also disrupts digestion, so ideally, drink most of your fluids at least 30 mins before you eat and not until around 2 hours after you finish. If you wish to drink at mealtimes, sip fluids slowly to avoid diluting digestive
• To give your liver and kidneys a healthy start, slowly drink 250ml - 1L of warm water, herbal tea or warm lemon & ginger at least 30 mins before eating breakfast.
• Avoid BPA plastic bottles. Not only do microscopic plastic particles leach into the water, but they are also a huge environmental burden. Use glass, stainless steel, or BPA-free bottles instead.
• Avoid unhealthy drinks, including sugary drinks, diet drinks, commercial sports drinks, undiluted fruit and veg juices, alcohol, excessive caffeinated drinks, non organic decaffeinated drinks (harsh processing methods) and any drinks that you are sensitive to (i.e. milk).
In summary, don’t underestimate the benefits of hydration, be good to yourself and drink adequate quantities of healthy fluids each day. There really is no excuse! As for once, the healthiest option for improving your health and weight is also the most convenient and cheapest.
BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy, memBANT, memNT, memCNCH
For more information on health and weight loss see ‘The Meta-Keto Diet’. This book is available as an eBook (£6.99), or in paperback (£15.99), via the Secret Healthy Eater Shop; www.secrethealthyeater.com/shop.
drawing by paulina maluhia