Water as a medicine
Doctors and nutritionists swear by the formula, and parents faithfully hand it down to their children (whether or not they abide by it themselves): eight glasses of water a day. They talk about its health-giving properties (how good it is for your skin and your system, how it flushes away toxins and waters, how it aids digestion and relieves constipation). But, has any doctor told you about how water can flush away the fat?
Flush away the fat? Come again.
Yes, it’s incredible, but it’s true. At least, according to top diet doctors.
Top doctor’s recommendations are bolstered by studies in the west that are increasingly indicating that when water intake drops, fat deposits go up. And the even more interesting converse – an increased water intake can actually reduce fat deposits.
How’s that? Here’s how (it’s that bad old vicious cycle at work.
When you don’t drink enough water, your kidneys can’t function properly. As a consequence, they dump some of their workload on to the liver.
When the liver is landed with some of the kidney’s functions it cannot work full capacity on its own job. And, one of the primary functions of the liver is to metabolize stored fat into energy. When it’s working below par, the liver metabolizes less fat, so that some of it remains stored up in the body, resulting in weight gain or, at best inhibiting weight loss.
That’s not the only way in which water is related to obesity. Paradoxically, the problem of oedema (fluid retention in the body) is often caused by too little water intake. This is what happens: When your water intake is too little, the body alerts its mechanism to what it sees as a potential ‘survival threat’.
In a defensive reaction, it begins to grasp at whatever is available, holding onto every last drop that it gets. This water is then stored in extra cellular spaces (outside the cells) and manifests itself as oedemas (swollen feet, legs and hands).
If you have a chronic problem of fluid retention, it could also be caused by excess of salts in the body, the more salts, the more the water retained by the body to dilute them.
Water is also an important adjunct to any weight loss programme. It helps to combat the sagging skin phenomenon that occurs during weight reduction by literally buoying up the shrinking cells and ‘plumping’ out the skin, leaving it clear and fresh. Similarly, it keeps the muscles well-toned and firmed up, giving then their natural ability to contract.
Besides, when you are dieting, you have to be careful to avoid dehydration, and drinking lots of water can help to maintain the fluid balance in the body.
Also during weight loss, the body has to offload a much larger amount if metabolized fat. A correspondingly larger intake of water is needed to shed this waste.
Conversely, it followed that overweight people (with larger metabolic loads to convert into energy) need more water. Experts point to water’s ability to suppress the appetite “Drinking water creates a sense of fullness. Anyone who has a glass of water before a meal is bound to eat less, so there is a natural diet control at work here.”
How much water should you drink? The eight-glasses-a-day maxim largely holds well, but according to doctors, the overweight person needs one additional glass for every 25 pounds of excess weight. The intake would also very according to other factors. So, if you do brisk exercise, you naturally drink more water. In a tropical climate like ours, one should have a glass of water every two hours – which works out to about 8-10 glasses a day.
Even drinking a little more cannot harm your body. The excess is simply secreted in urine or sweat. More than 90% of a child’s weight, and over 50% of an adult’s, is made up of the water constituent in the body. So you really need a lot of water during the day to make up the loss from perspiration, exhalation and urination. ‘Never ignore a thirst’, day the experts. ‘It is the best guide to your body’s needs’.
Of course, many other beverages contain water, as do many foods – but you just can’t beat the natural goodness of plain, pure water. It’s the best thirst quencher of all, because it’s devoid of harmful additives and, of course, is non-fattening!
Too much of it during meals can dilute the digestive enzymes. This can be harmful. So you can consume a little water, during food, but otherwise any quantity.
Apart from its catalyst action in weight reduction, water is also one of the most basic of beauty aids. Drinking plenty of water will literally alter your appearance, bringing a natural glow to your skin and a sparkle to your eyes. No moisturizer or eye-drops can do as much!
Water should preferably be drunk cold or lukewarm says all doctors. It is absorbed more quickly by the body than warm water.
Walking as a medicine
Psychiatrists, particularly, are beginning to recognize the value of the ‘good feeling’ Dr. refers to walking, like jogging, appears to promote increased endorphin production (endorphins are neurohormones that may produce a sense of well being).
“We recommended brisk walking – rapid enough to condition the heart for all my readers who are depressed or suffering from low self-esteem”. Even 20 or 30 minutes a day seems to make a difference. For one thing, going for a walk prevents excessive preoccupation and rumination, and it distracts you from your own inner concerns.
If one of things that depresses you is the thought of aging, you’ve got all the more reasons to start walking. In a programme involving a group of Canadian men and women in their mid-60s who were given endurance training that emphasized vigorous walking, several interesting results were achieved. Body fat was decreased; knee extension capabilities were increases, body potassium levels were increased and the normal age-related loss of bone calcium was apparently halted, in other words, the best way to reach the foundation of youth is to walk there at a brisk pace.
In addition to all the good things walking can do for you physically and emotionally, it can also improve your social life by introducing you to new people and new experiences. Many organizations sponsor walks ranging from leisurely to strenuous that attract people with many varied interests. Even urban areas sometimes offer excellent walks for the resident or visitor to participate in.
To set up your own daily walking programme, consult with your doctor first if you have pain or haven’t had a checkup before some time. Once you’ve got the go ahead, get yourself a pair of comfortable, flexible walking shoes, preferably with cushioned soles. Start of slowly if you are in poor physical condition, building up to as fast a pace as you can handle. Walk at least 30 minutes a day, three or four days a week.