Overweight - The Water Connection
Diet foods and diet books sell in their millions, yet as a nation we
are becoming evermore overweight.† It is known that obesity shortens
life expectancy and predisposes to many illnesses, such as hypertension
and diabetes, as well as looking unsightly, zapping energy, and making
people look elderly, often before their time.† Obesity also puts a strain
on all body organs, such as the liver, the heart and the lungs.† Breathing
difficulties are increased with overweight and there is also undue strain
There is only one cause of obesity - overeating (with
some rare exceptions).† Although human beings come in a wide range of
shapes and sizes, nature did not intend us to be overweight.† But what
causes the overeating?† One important factor is that we have come to
interpret thirst signals as hunger signals and instead of satisfying
our thirst, put more food into our mouths - food we probably donít need.
One major reason so many of us are overweight is
that instead of satisfying our thirst with water, we tend to drink fruit
juices and fizzy drinks instead, imagining that as they contain water,
that they are the same as water, but just that little bit more interesting.†
Many healthy diet books urge people to drink sugar-free fruit juices:†
But if you drink these instead of plain water, you could be adding to
your weight problems.
The reason for this is that everything you eat and
drink, apart from plain water, is turned into sugar.† This increases
insulin production† and the effect of this is to dry out the system
and cause insulin-produced hunger.† The food we eat as a result of excess
insulin gets turned instantly to fat.
The reason that we tend to eat rather than drink
in response to brain signals is that the sensations of thirst and hunger
are often generated simultaneously.† As, with time, we fail to recognise
thirst needs, we assume both indicators mean that food is needed by
the body:† So we eat food when the body should, ideally, only be receiving
We also feel hungry when blood sugar levels are low.†
This often makes us grab the first sugary or filling food item we can
find. In fact, water is an adequate source of energy by the process
of hydrolysis, which means splitting water into its component atoms
of hydrogen and oxygen.† Whenever this is done, energy is released,
and the energy generated by water helps to produce adenosine tri-phosphate
(ATP), a body compound which stores energy for cell metabolism.
Certain parts of the brain draw much of their energy
from water, but if we have failed to recognise the brainís signals,
we may tend to eat instead.
It is also the case that all fizzy drinks, including
diet drinks, manufactured as weight-loss aids, actually cause overweight
rather than helping to prevent it.† Coffee and other caffeine-containing
drinks also contribute to overweight.
They do this because caffeine has both addictive
and diuretic properties.† The reason why people often become addicted
to coffee and diet fizzy drinks is because the water does not stay in
the body long enough to satisfy thirst and also has a direct action
on the brain, giving a sensation of pleasure.
When people drink many cans of diet cola, for instance,
they continue to feel thirsty, but because they think they have drunk
a lot, interpret this as a hunger signal instead.† This† means they
begin to eat more food than their body needs, and weight piles on.
The dehydration caused by caffeine-laden drinks causes
a gradual gain in weight from overeating, in itself caused by confusion
of hunger and thirst signals being transmitted from the brain.
There is also the factor that many children nowadays
never drink plain water, as children used to, but fizzy sugar-laden
drinks instead.† Most schools and colleges now have drink-dispensing
machines, and water has all but been forgotten as a thirst satisfier.†
It has become too boring to be considered - and does not have the pick-me-up
qualities associated with caffeine and sugar-containing drinks.
Caffeine causes addiction, and all caffeinated drinks
cause weight gain as they indirectly stimulate more food intake because
the brain is forced to use up its energy reserves - reserves which could
easily be maintained by drinking water.† Excess energy is stored in
the form of fat, which we donít need and which the body doesnít want.
Consumption of sugar, whether this is in the form
of actual sugar or artificial calorie-free sweeteners such as aspartame,
stimulates the tongue, and the brain programmes the liver to accept
the sugar from outside and shut down its own manufacture of natural
sugar from proteins consumed.† Instead of metabolising this sugar, the
liver begins to store it and the result is increased appetite for sweet
Sweeteners, even if they do not contain calories,
stimulate the taste buds and urge us to eat ever more.† Animal experiments
have now shown that animals will have a similar urge to overeat if given
sweet things.† It has also been shown in American experiments that sweeteners,
such as aspartame, will enhance appetite and increase food intake. This
urge to eat more food after taking artificial sweeteners can last up
to 90 minutes.† It seems that the brain retains the urge to eat long
after the body has been satisfied
It has been said that diets donít work.† In fact,
they do work, but most people canít stick to them.† Self-deprivation
of food is masochistic and can only be kept up for a short time unless
there is a powerful motivation not to eat, such as if you are a model,
or a jockey, for instance.† It is well known that most people who lose
large amounts of weight on slimming programmes put it all back on again,
and more, eventually.† For most of us though, taking in food has become
an unthinking activity.† \if every time you felt hugry, you drank a
glass of water, and waited to see whether the pangs were of hunger or
thirst, you would probably discover that you didínt need to go on diets.
I do not know of any diet programme which tells you
to drink lots of water, rather, they concentrate on elaborate and expensive
mini-meals. But drinking water could be a cheap and effective permanent
solution to the problem which bedevils so many of us, where supermarkets
full of food from all over the world invite us to pick up anything we
like, anything which takes our fancy.
The other main cause of overweight - leaving aside
for the moment all those who suffer from compulsive eating disorders
- is our present-day sedentary lifestyle.† Just as the human machine
was designed to drink plain water at regular intervals, so we are designed
to move our muscles rather than remain seated all day long.† As water
energises the system, it can help to make us more active as well.† Exercise,
as we now know, increases food metabolism, and one hour of brisk exercise
has a metabolism-enhancng effect lasting twelve hours.
It has been shown in animal experiments that animals
kept slightly underweight live far longer and stay far healthier than
those allowed to be obese.† For obvious reasons, it has not been possible
to set up human laboratory experiments on this, but all the indications
are that slight underweight, rather than slight overweight, is the healthy
option preferred by nature.
It is always better to try and treat hunger by drinking
more water than by eating† more food. Next time you are tempted to overeat,
drink instead† By putting something in your stomach which makes you
feel full, as a glass of water will, you will then start to lose weight
safely and without recourse to masochistic diets.