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 on joints.

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 water.

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 things.

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.

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