Water makes up 45% to 99% of the mass of every being on Earth. In humans, the percentage varies from 75-80% in newborns, falling to 40-50% in the elderly; indeed, the first sign of ageing is the gradual loss of water from the tissues.
1. Is it true that water should not be drunk at mealtimes?
No. On the contrary – drinking sufficient water (600-700 mg/l of fixed residue) helps to improve digestion. However, at mealtimes it should be drunk in moderation, because it dilutes our gastric juices and our saliva, reducing the ability of the latter to kick start the digestive process, and making certain foods – especially certain proteins – more difficult to digest.
2. Will drinking water make me gain weight?
No. Both still and sparkling water contain zero calories. “Any short-term variation in body weight due to a greater loss or retention of fluid is momentary and misleading” (guidelines issued by the Italian National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition). An excess of carbonated water can lead to bloating.
3. Will drinking water make me lose weight?
Unfortunately not. It doesn’t “wash away” fats and sugars. However, it appears that drinking water on an empty stomach and before meals causes people to consume fewer calories. It is not clear whether this is due to a full stomach reducing the feeling of hunger or some other reason, but the mineral content of certain types of water would appear to cause a feeling of fullness, especially if carbonated.
4. Is it true that drinking a lot of water causes fluid retention?
No. Fluid retention is caused by electrolytes and other substances contained in the foods we eat, and in particular by the functioning of certain internal organs.
5. Is it true that sparkling water is harmful?
Neither carbonated water or water with a natural gas content are harmful, however it depends on the quantity drunk at any one time.
A few suggestions for choosing a mineral water
- waters rich in calcium (more than 100mg/l), magnesium (more than 20mg/l) and sulphates (more than 15mg/l)
- waters with a medium mineral content (500-1500 of fixed residue)
- waters low in lithium and manganese
- water in glass bottles
- water at temperatures lower than 14°
- jugs and bottles left open in the fridge
- waters with a high CO2 content
Remember to drink 8 -10 glasses of water a day (1.5 – 2 litres) and drink even when you don’t feel thirsty.
How to read the label
The main information that should be included on the label:
- place of origin
- storage instructions
- batch number and conductivity
- bar code
- classification based on fixed residue, into one of four types:
- minimally mineralised water
- water with a trace mineral content
- water with a medium mineral content
- water rich in mineral salts
- microbiologically pure, certifying the absence of hazardous germs and pollution indicators
- chemical analysis which must show the constituent elements, expressed in mg per litre
- properties beneficial for health, qualities such as “stimulates digestion”, “may have laxative or diuretic effects”, “may facilitate the excretion of uric acid”, and so on. The law does not permit companies to make claims such as “properties which prevent or cure a disease”.
It is important to note the quantities of HCO3 and O2 given on the label.
Is there one mineral water that is better than the others?
No, however we can choose the one that best meets our individual needs, or the one we prefer in terms of flavour.
Water is an integral part of our diet, not only because it is essential for keeping our bodies functioning properly, but it can also act as a source of nutrition, providing various minerals.
For more information (italian): www.bereacqua.org