Chicago Health | Homepage
The big benefits of plain water

The big benefits of plain water

By Mallika Marshall, M.D.

Harvard Health Blog

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” Unlike Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, who was surrounded by undrinkable salt water, most Americans have an unlimited supply of clean water to quench our thirsts.

Yet many of us turn a blind eye to it and instead reach for other beverages throughout the day, like sodas, juices, coffee and tea, despite warnings from health experts over recent years about the added calories in sweetened beverages and the health benefits of plain water.

Now a recent study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics provides even more evidence that we should choose water over other drinks if we want to control our weight. For the study, researchers from the University of Illinois looked at data on the eating (and drinking) habits of 18,311 adults as recorded in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2012.

Survey participants were asked to recall their dietary intake over two separate days. They reported their consumption of plain water (which included tap water, water from fountains and water coolers, and bottled water) as well as their consumption of other beverages like soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened bottled waters. Participants were also questioned about their intake of “energy-dense, nutrient-poor” foods, like cookies, ice cream, chips and pastries.

On average, participants drank 4.2 cups of plain water a day and took in 2,157 calories. About 125 of those calories came from sweetened beverages, and about 432 calories came from energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods.

The researchers found that the participants who drank the most plain water in their daily diet consumed fewer total calories, drank fewer sweetened beverages, and took in less total fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt and cholesterol. In fact, they discovered that increasing plain water consumption by one to three cups a day could decrease calorie intake by 68 to 205 calories a day. That could add up to a lot fewer calories over time — and result in significant weight loss.

These results support prior research on this topic, which has shown that drinking water before meals and that substituting water for sweetened beverages can cut down on calorie intake and improve weight control. That means people interested in losing weight and improving their overall health could benefit from incorporating more plain water into their daily diet.

So next time you’re thirsty, instead of ignoring your kitchen sink at home or the bubbler at work, take a moment to savor the one drink that’s free, refreshing and actually good for us: plain old water.

(Mallika Marshall, M.D., is a contributing editor to Harvard Health Publications.)

(C) 2016. PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Fighting Obesity With Calorie Counts and Community Efforts

Fighting Obesity With Calorie Counts and Community Efforts

By Kevin Sterne A federal regulation that would have given consumers a better idea of their

Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine

How what you eat affects your mood By Nancy Maes “You are what you eat” may seem

Gut Relief

Gut Relief

Low-FODMAP diet may help those with stomach ills By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN Let’s face it, when

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

May 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017
May 7, 2017 May 8, 2017 May 9, 2017 May 10, 2017 May 11, 2017 May 12, 2017 May 13, 2017
May 14, 2017 May 15, 2017 May 16, 2017 May 17, 2017 May 18, 2017 May 19, 2017 May 20, 2017
May 21, 2017 May 22, 2017 May 23, 2017 May 24, 2017 May 25, 2017 May 26, 2017 May 27, 2017
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives