Raise a toast to water for wellbeing

Health Column Photo 2A study has confirmed that drinking plain water plays a vital role in controlling weight or reducing intakes of sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
The study examined the dietary habits of more than 18,300 U.S. adults and found the majority of people who increased their consumption of either tap water or from a cooler or fountain or bottle by one percent reduced their total daily calorie intake. It also reduced their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.
Doctors have for many years advocated drinking more water on a daily basis.
According to University of Illinois, Kinesiology and Community Health Prof. Ruopeng An, people who increased their consumption of water by one, two or three cups daily decreased their total energy intake by 68 to 205 calories daily and their sodium intake by 78 to 235 grams.
He said they also consumed give grams to nearly 18 grams less sugar and decreased their cholesterol consumption by seven to 21 grams daily.
“The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status,” An said.
“This finding indicates that it might be sufficient to design and deliver universal nutrition interventions and education campaigns that promote plain water consumption in replacement of beverages with calories in diverse population subgroups without profound concerns about message and strategy customization.”
It examined data from four waves (2005-12) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the National Centre for Health Statistics. Participants were asked to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of two days that were three to 10 days apart.
He calculated the amount of plain water each person consumed as a percentage of their daily dietary water intake from food and beverages combined.
Beverages such as unsweetened black tea, herbal tea and coffee were not counted as sources of plain water but their water content was included in An’s calculations of participants’ total dietary water consumption.
On average, participants consumed about 4.2 cups of plain water on a daily basis, accounting for slightly more than 30% of their total dietary water intake.
Participants’ average calorie intake was 2,157 calories, including 125 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 432 calories from discretionary foods, which are low-nutrition, calorie-dense foods such as desserts, pastries and snack mixes that add variety to but are not necessary for a healthy diet.
A small but statistically significant one percent increase in participants’ daily consumption of plain water was associated with an 8.6-calorie decrease in daily energy intake, as well as slight reductions in participants’ intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and discretionary foods along with their consumption of fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.
While An found the decreases were greater among men and among young and middle-aged adults, he suggested they could have been associated with these groups’ higher daily calorie intakes.
In a related study, An examined 10 years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the National Centre for Health Statistics, which asked participants to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of two non-consecutive days.
An compared participants’ daily calorie intakes, including consumption of discretionary foods and five types of beverages – diet or sugar-free drinks; sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and fruit drinks; coffee; tea; and alcohol.
Using a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture food database, An compiled a 661-item list of discretionary foods, which includes foods that do not belong to the major food groups and are not required by the human body but may add variety to a person’s diet. These energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods include products such as cookies, ice cream, chocolate, fries and pastries.
More than 90% of the people in the study consumed discretionary foods daily, averaging about 482 calories from these products each day, An found.
About 97% of the study population consumed at least one of the five types of beverages daily, with about 41% of respondents drinking beverages from at least two of the categories. More than 25% of participants consumed three or more types of beverages daily.