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By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, October 18, 2000

A toast to your
health with water

Question: Will drinking lots of water help me lose weight?

Answer: Yes, it will. Water suppresses the appetite naturally and, secondly, drinking water helps the body metabolize fat. It's been shown that a decrease in water consumption will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake will reduce fat stores.

Here's how it works. The kidneys can't function at full capacity without sufficient water. When the kidneys aren't functioning properly, some of their workload is transferred to the liver. But a primary function of the liver is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body.

That's where the problem lies. If the liver has to do some of the kidney's work, it can't operate at full capacity, either. As a result, the liver is less efficient at metabolizing fat, so more fat remains stored in the body and less energy is supplied to the body for everyday needs.

Another role that water plays in regard to weight loss is the prevention of dehydration. Muscles that are adequately hydrated contract better, which enables a person to exercise longer without having to stop due to muscle cramps and fatigue.

Exercising for longer durations enables the body to burn more calories, calories that are otherwise stored as body fat. Water also helps to flush out byproducts of fat metabolism from the body.

People receive a portion of their water needs from the foods they eat. During a weight-loss program, food intake is reduced, so dieters should drink extra water to make sure they get their normal supply.

Also, during a diet, ample water is needed to keep the skin healthy and hydrated. Drinking water also helps prevent sagging skin.

How much water is enough to keep the kidneys supplied? That depends on body weight.

Overweight people need more water because their bodies have a larger metabolic demand. On average, a person of normal weight should drink eight six- to eight-ounce glasses per day.

Overweight individuals should add one eight ounce glass for every 25 pounds over their healthy body weight. Those amounts increase, for everybody, if they exercise or if the weather is hot.

Q. Do exercise and a healthy diet have any effect on the aging process?

A. Exercise and a healthy diet can dramatically reduce the rate at which the human body ages.

The loss of lean muscle mass slows down and body tone is maintained. Because of increased muscle mass, physical strength is preserved.

Stronger muscles also mean healthier connective tissue in your joints, because you can't train your muscles without strengthening your joints.

The more muscle a person has, the higher his or her basal metabolic rate.

Body fat percentage is reduced. Because too much body fat is associated with increased risk for heart disease, adult onset diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers, you're reducing your chances of developing these diseases.

Since exercise enhances HDLs (the good cholesterol) and reduces the bad LDLs, your overall cholesterol ratio remains healthy.

Some other benefits:

Aerobic capacity remains high. Blood sugar tolerance improves. Blood pressure remains at normal levels. Body temperature is better regulated. The loss of bone mass slows down.

Individuals can lower their physiological age by participating in regular exercise, and by eating a healthy low-fat diet

Health Events

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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