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Monday, March 14, 2005

Water. Love IT!

Throughout our dieting life we’ve been told – drink water. Drink a minimum of 64 ounces a day – eight glasses a day. Well, this time there’s no hedging. You have to drink the water. Other beverages won’t do the trick. Not coffee, tea or milk. Not diet soda or sports drinks. Water. Pure, plain, old fashioned H2O! Clear, colorless, odorless, tasteless: water is the essential fluid for living – without adequate water death is imminent. Water is one of the most important nutrients the body needs to stay healthy, vibrant and energetic.

The human body is a magnificent vessel full of water. The brain is more than 75 percent water and 80 percent of blood is water. In fact, water plays a critical role in every system of the human body. Water regulates body temperature, removes wastes, carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells, cushions the joints, prevents constipation, flushes toxins from the kidneys and liver and dissolves vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for the body’s use.

Sixty-four ounces of water probably isn’t enough for patients in the phase of rapid weight loss. Nutritionists say a more precise measure of the body’s need for water is to divide body weight (pounds) in half and drink that many ounces every day. That number could well exceed 200 ounces a day for some post-operative patients. Follow your bariatric center’s recommendation for your specific fluid needs based on your weight and health status. Continue to adjust your fluid intake as you lose weight.

The body will panic if actual water intake is significantly less than required. Blood cannot flow, waste processes are disrupted and the electrolytes become imbalanced. Proper hydration prevents inflammation, promotes osmosis and moistens lung surfaces for gas diffusion. It helps the body regulate temperature, irrigate the cells and organs and promotes all functions of elimination. Certainly by drinking plenty of water many people could resolve inflammation and elimination problems that result from insufficient water intake. I’m convinced that insufficient water intake caused me inflammation and constipation prior to surgery. My body was unable to flush away toxins.

But how in the world can a person with tiny tummy take enough water to meet the body’s needs? After all, the tiny tummy can hold about one cup – 8 fluid ounces.

First of all, dedicate yourself to sipping water: all day, every day. You cannot gulp down a glass of water a couple of times a day and call it good – your tiny tummy won’t let you.

Next, make a plan. Have specific times of day when you know you will drink water. Carry water with you at all times, an easy thing to do with bottled water available in vending machines and convenience stores. Establish your daily quota and keep track of ounces consumed.

Small Sips: Experience quickly teaches WLS patients to take very small sips of water and swallow carefully. Gulping – and we’ve all done it by mistake – really hurts. I miss gulping on hot summer days when nothing would be better than to chug-a-lug an ice-cold glass of water. But I’ve learned to stay refreshed taking small sips steadily throughout the day. At first I was challenged to drink enough water: I didn’t like it, I wasn’t good at small sipping, I wasn’t thirsty. Before surgery I was a Diet Coke drinker – I called the bubbly beverage my “Breakfast of Champions” and I gulped it all day long. I seldom remembered to drink water. The day before surgery I had my ceremonial final glass – I knew Diet Coke and I were disunited forever. With the money I was about to save not buying Diet Coke I would buy clothes.

Many years later I’m a bottle-toting water woman. I’m like all those fit and fabulous people out there constantly sucking on my bottle nurturing myself with liquid life. You can mark your clock by my trips to the ladies room as I flush those toxins out of my body. Would I go back to Diet Coke? Never. Don’t even crave or miss it. I would have never predicted that.

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