In part 1 of this 2-part series, I spoke about how much water the human body needs. In this part, I discuss the commonly held notions about water and the truth and science behind these beliefs.
Hot or cold?
There is some science behind the notion that drinking iced water burns calories. Given that the temperature of iced water is close to 0°C and the body's temperature is about 37°C, a few calories are burnt in bringing the temperature of water to body-temperature level. So if a person drinks 8 glasses of water a day, the calories burnt amount to 70 per day, which is not too much in a 1,500 to 2,000 calories/day diet.
Ayurveda recommends drinking water warm or hot, with the belief that it aids digestion, metabolism and prevents accumulation of toxins. In Kerala, water is almost always served warm, in many cases boiled with cumin seeds to give it a pale golden colour. It is a belief that hot and humid climate is best handled by drinking the water warm.
Lemon water routine
Health experts and fitness enthusiasts swear by this morning routine: a squeeze of lemon in warm water, first thing in the morning. The body wakes up from sleep, mildly dehydrated, and a glass of water immediately after waking up helps to address this situation. A squeeze of lemon provides almost half the vitamin C required in a day and the citric acid helps stimulate liver enzymes giving a kick-start to your sluggish, out-of-sleep body.
There's the thought that the citric acid can erode the enamel of your teeth. The risk is considerably reduced when it is diluted in a glass of water. Making sure the water is lukewarm and not hot and drinking with a straw so that the water does not touch the teeth is another way to subvert this problem.
Water and exercise
During a workout, due to faster breathing and sweating, water is lost from the body. Also, a body that starts off on a workout without being completely hydrated, cannot function optimally, both physically and mentally. An accepted formula is to drink around 500 ml of water an hour before the workout, around 250 ml 15 minutes before you begin and sip (not guzzle) through 250ml every 15 minutes during the workout, which is roughly a litre of water over a 1-hour workout period. Even if you are not thirsty or sweating heavily, this will help keep up your energy levels and improve your performance in the gym.
Water and meals
Research has shown that drinking water prior to a meal (half an hour earlier) reduces the calorie-intake during meals, by making you feel fuller. This is good news for people trying to cut down on their calorie-intake and lose weight. A widely voiced concern is that drinking water with or after meals dilutes digestive juices and causes indigestion. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. On the contrary, water and other liquids help soften the food in the stomach, leading to their breakdown and better absorption of nutrients.
Ayurveda, however does not approve of drinking water, especially cold, during meals, as it puts out the digestive fire. However, drinking water a while before sitting down for a meal and sipping on lukewarm/room temperature water during a meal are deemed perfectly okay.