Drinking More Water and a Thyroid Patients' Weight

Close up of a woman drinking water
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Important news for thyroid patients struggling with extra weight and a slow metabolism: Increase the amount of plain water you drink and it could make it easier to lose excess weight.

From birth to death, water is important for human life. Infants hold about 75 percent of their weight in water. By the time we are seniors, we are about 55 percent water. In between, you are about 60 to 70 percent composed of the water and fluids you drink.

It’s no secret that the slowed metabolism, fatigue, and endocrine system changes of hypothyroidism can contribute to thyroid patients’ weight gain or difficulty losing weight. So any new findings related to weight loss are particularly relevant and important for patients to know.

In the last 20 years, consumers substituted sodas and similar sugar-laden beverages for plain water—adding pounds and increasing their risk of diabetes, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. Now, consumption of soda-type drinks appears to be declining as consumers turn to energy and other drinks for supposed health benefits. But what about water—the original health drink?

Water and You—It’s Important!

While parents routinely advise children to drink water, they don’t often tell them why. Sure, we know that when we don’t drink water, we get thirsty. But what does the body actually do with the fluids you take in?

There is water in each cell in your body, and it is used for processes that help keep you alive and healthy, including:

  • Transferring nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, and helping eliminate cellular and digestive waste. This is important to metabolism.
  • Maintaining lubrication of joints and maintain moist pliability of tissue in your eyes, mouth, and nose. Water cushions your brain and the spaces within your spinal cord.
  • Regulating temperature. When you sweat, your body is using water to cool your skin through evaporation.
  • Providing sufficient hydration to assist your kidneys and dispel waste.

Signs That You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Water is a component of fruits, vegetables, drinks, soups, tea, coffee, and many other food products. When you are not getting enough water from all of these sources, you could experience dehydration symptoms that include:

  • A headache, fatigue, dizziness
  • Dark urine, dry mouth, inability to cry tears
  • Light-headedness and confusion

Many people suffer mild headaches each day from lack of water and never realize it. Physiologic processes – including metabolism – slow and stop with lack of hydration. Basic recommendations for water intake (from all sources) for men are 13 to 15 cups per day, and for adult women, between nine and 13 cups per day.

How Can Water Help You Lose Weight?

A study from the University of Illinois looked at the issue of weight loss and water to investigate whether drinking more water could have an effect on diet or weight loss goals.

The study, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, reviewed data from over 18,000 participants in the National Examination Survey from years 2005—2012. Dr. Ruopeng An, from the University of Illinois, looked at consumption of water by participants from all sources over time. The study delivered the following findings:

  • People who drank more water also took in fewer calories. Increasing water intake by one to three cups per day (or about one percent) resulted in between about 60 and 200 fewer calories consumed per day.
  • In addition to ingesting fewer calories, people who drank more water also consumed less sugar and took in less cholesterol.

Of the results, Dr. An noted:

“The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status. 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."

Based on survey data, the study does not discuss why calorie intake declined slightly when water consumption increased. Drinking water before and with meals does speed a feeling of fullness, called satiety, so that may be the explanation. There could also be more complex, biochemical reasons for the results.

Essential for life and health, slightly increasing your water intake could help you lose or maintain your weight. 

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Article Sources
  • R. An, andJ. ‎McCaffrey. "Plain Water Consumption in Relation to Energy Intake and Diet Quality Among US Adults, 2005–2012." Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Early Abstract. 22 FEB 2016