Increasing water consumption by as little as 1% has been shown to reduce total daily calorie, saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol intake. [Photo: Bigstock]

Water drinking leads to healthier food choices

4 March, 2016

Natural Health News — For people who want to control their weight or reduce their intakes of sugar, sodium and saturated fat, a few glasses of water may be what the doctor ordered.

A new study that examined the dietary habits of more than 18,300 US adults found the majority of people who increased their consumption of water by 1% reduced their total daily calorie intake as well as their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.

Water, not liquids

University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An examined data from four waves (2005-12) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the US National Center for Health Statistics. For these studies participants were asked to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of two days that were three to 10 days apart.

What you need to know

» We all need water to live. But new research suggests that the amount of water we consume can help make our food choices healthier.

» Evidence showed that increasing daily consumption of water by between 240-620 ml (1-2 cups) per day decreased people’s total energy intake by 68 to 205 calories daily.

» Other benefits included reductions in sodium, saturated fat, sugar and cholesterol as water intake rose.

He then calculated the amount of plain water plain water – tap water or from a cooler, drinking fountain or bottle – 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 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.

Lowering calorie intake

Results showed that those who increased their consumption of water by one, two or three cups (8-24 oz, 240-720 ml) daily decreased their total energy intake by 68 to 205 calories daily and their sodium intake by 78 to 235 grams. Water drinkers also consumed 5 grams to nearly 18 grams less sugar and decreased their cholesterol consumption by 7 to 21 grams daily.

Even a small but statistically significant 1% increase in participants’ daily consumption of plain tap 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.

“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.”

The study was published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.