Pour it On! What is it about water?

July 02, 2006

Pour it On!  What is it about water

 Competency # 5  The Way to Eat Reference:  Nutrition Action Health Letter, June 2006 

You need water.  There are lots of recommendations out there that we don’t drink enough and that you ought to drink more.   We patiently lug around our huge glasses of water and sip away all day long.  Does it help you lose weight?  Are you getting enough?  Are Americans dehydrated?  Does it make you feel full?  Or sleepy? What I know is this.  Your kidneys love to make dilute urine.  

You are getting enough fluids if your urine is clear.  Dilute urine looks clear.   If it’s yellow, you are getting a little dry and your body is conserving water by concentrating your urine.  If your urine starts to have a burning quality and looks darker when you pee, you are likely very dehydrated.  It has been known and measured that eating lots of salty foods, or a large meal will make you shift fluids into your gut to process all that stuff.  

Your body puts into your small bowel the equivalent in fluid volume of about 70% of your body weight each day.   Then it absorbs it back.   To digest properly, you need lots of water to work with.   And if fluids are in your intestine, they aren’t in your bloodstream circulating to your brain.  A large salty meal will make you feel sleepy.  Being a little dehydrated or tired may very well be a sign that you are a little dry.  Try it.  If you feel fatigued and worn out, a large glass of water will often, by itself, feel like a pick-me-up.  

How about 2 pm every day, when you have the dwindles at your desk?  A good glass of water right there might perk you up.    

In hot weather, you can get quite dry just by the sweat you make without your even being aware of it.  You can avoid heat stroke completely by drinking ahead of time.  The Israeli army does just that.  Drink lots ahead of time before you play golf when it's 95 degrees, and you'll make it just fine.  But this is all old news. 

 Last month in Nutrition Action, there was a wonderful review about the amount of fluids we should or shouldn’t drink, and the consequences of what’s happened to Americans in the last 25 years from the fluids we do drink.  What has happened is that we have had a HUGE shift to sugared sodas and fruit juices.  Fifty years ago, virtually no one drank any sugared drinks.  Now, we all drink about 400 calories a day in sugared fluids. (9% of our total calories)  If you take that out a year at a time, that many extra calories can add up to a weight tain of as much as 40 pounds a year.   

As part of that mix, we hve added sugared fruit drinks to our diet.  Again, more calories and more pounds. What is new and cutting edge is the science of appetite suppression.  The Nutrition Action article is a wonderful review about that with lots of nice questions and answers.  

What I learned, and the nugget for today is that liquid calories DO NOT SATISFY OR SUPPRESS your appetite.  What you drink isn’t counted by your brain as calories.  It just slips under the radar screen and ends up on your hips and belly.  When you drink calories, you don’t feel it is food.  What is also interesting, is that soup doesn’t have that effect.  In fact, eating a soup course in a meal will reduce your total calories.  Why the boundary between soup and liquid fruit juice, we can’t say.  Drinking full-sugar soda may give you a caffeine effect.  If that's what you need, drink coffee.  It's a great chemical.  No harmful effect and lot's of research to show it. 

www. What Will Work for Me?  This is simple.  Drink water.  STOP THE SUGARED soda if you want to control your weight.  And stop the sugared fruit juice.  Stop feeding your kids the sugared fruit juice.  Eat the whole fruit and get the fiber and the appetite effect. Your weight as a child predicts your weight as adults.  Water is sufficient.  More of it may be better for you.  Try it, you’ll like it.  

This column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD,Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)