One of the key components of health is adequate intake of water, especially during the summer months. Yet, many people fill themselves with anything but water: sodas, various brands of “vitamin water” and energy drinks. So many patients tell me, “I hate water”. How can we hate water? WE ARE water. Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of our body weight. Every system in your body depends on water – to flush toxins out of vital organs, carry nutrients to your cells and provide a moist environment for your tissues.
You do get water from other fluids you drink; however, it is the other ingredients in the beverages that we drink and our addiction to caffeine and sugar that is the biggest problem as well as the marketing by the food industry that brainwashes us into thinking their products are beneficial. Coke will make us happy, vitamin water will give us nutrition, energy drinks will give us the energy we desperately need. The problem is that these drinks that promise happiness and health are one of the leading causes of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis. These drinks are filled with a variety of chemicals such as phosphoric acid, caramel color, synthetic vitamins, and “natural flavors”. Instead if hydrating you, they are just throwing a chemical concoction that your body must deal with.
And diet drinks are just as bad and probably worse. Artificial sweeteners are chemicals not found in nature (with the exception of Stevia) and study after study shows that they do not help people lose weight. Although they do not have calories, studies show that consuming artificial sweeteners leads to a higher blood sugar and insulin response. Insulin causes the body to store fat so those diet drinks that are supposed to help you lose weight actually could be making you fatter. And insulin causes excess inflammation which ultimately leads to diseases like cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
So if you are one of the many people who hate water, try healthier drinks that have natural ingredients such as green tea sweetened with honey or raw sugar or club soda with pomegranate juice and lime. Or make your own vitamin water with an infusion pitcher which can be bought for under $25. Simply add herbs, fruit, and/or veggies to your filtered water and store in the fridge. If you don’t want to invest in an infusion pitcher, use any jar large enough to hold the fruits/veggies and at least 1/2 liter of water.
So how much water do you need to drink? The 8 glass per day rule likely comes from an estimate of the amount of water the average size body needs to function in 24 hours. However, we are all different and the amount of water we need depends on many factors including our weight, activity level, and outside temperature. Another rule of thumb is to divide your body weight by 2 (a 120 lb person should drink 60 ounce of water). Or just to pay attention to your body. Drink when you are thirsty and watch the color of your urine, which when well hydrated should be light yellow. So drink up (water that is) because your health depends on it.