If you’re carrying more weight than you want to and nothing seems to help you drop the pounds, it’s possible the reason is something very simple you haven’t considered.
There’s new research that suggests dehydration could be causing our epidemic of obesity. Dehydration is a huge health problem. Most people just don’t drink enough water. If you’re dehydrated, you can experience everything from bad breath to high blood pressure and muscle cramps to kidney failure. But the reason you’re dehydrated might surprise you.
Did you know that being thirsty can mimic the exact same feeling that being hungry can cause?
That means that many people who don’t drink enough water end up eating more because they feel hungry. They think they need food when they really need water. And now a new study has investigated the relationship between not drinking enough water and eating more. You won’t believe how much dehydration contributes to overeating.
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The study looked at 18,300 men and women. They were asked to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of a day. Then 10 days later, they asked the participants to do the same thing again. The researchers calculated the amount of water each person drank as a percentage of their total water intake. This included food and beverages, such as unsweetened black tea, soup, herbal tea, and coffee. These beverages were not counted as sources of plain water, but they did include their water content. On average, the men and women only drank about 4.2 cups of plain water every day. And here are the amazing results.
Whenever someone increased their plain-water intake by one, two or three cups per day, they also decreased their food intake by 68 to 205 calories. They didn’t eat as much. Not only that, but their food choices changed as well. As their water intake increased, they also ate 5-18 grams less sugar. The lead author, Professor Ruopeng An, summed it up this way: “The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels, and body weight status.” The professor went on to say that the study results indicate that one of the best ways to combat the obesity epidemic in America is by encouraging people to drink more water. And there’s one other thing I want to point out.
The average water intake in this huge group of over 18,000 people was only 4.2 cups. That’s only one-half to one-third of what the average adult needs. So there seems to be no doubt about it. A bad habit of drinking less and eating more may be more responsible for our obesity epidemic than any other single factor. And notice that those who increased their water intake by only three cups ate 205 calories less. That’s as good, if not better, than many people are going to get with exercise.
So make no mistake about it. When it comes to the list of the many health advantages of drinking water, you can now add weight control. Try to make sure that you drink at least two liters of water every day. And when you’re feeling hungry, if it’s been more than an hour since you drank some water, try drinking a glass of water. Chances are good that your “hunger” feelings were no more than your body crying out for water.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
An R, McCaffrey J. Plain water consumption in relation to energy intake and diet quality among US adults, 2005-2012. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2016 Feb 22.