The “miracle” of water


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I really enjoy reading health tips, and Facebook has made that very easy. However, I have a thing for accuracy, so I *Google anything I’m interested in trying.

I did just that after reading information supposedly from the Mayo Clinic regarding drinking a glass of water before bedtime to reduce the risk of heart attack or stoke and drinking two glasses when you get out of bed in the morning to jump start your internal organs.

According to articles on Google, yes, the information is absolutely true and no, it’s absolutely false. Isn’t the internet a great tool?!

The best way to discover the truth was to go directly to the Mayo Clinic website. My search for “best time to drink water” and “water heart attack stroke” didn’t yield specific results. However, I did find a nice, concise article, Water: How much should you drink every day, which provides some good common sense information.

We should all know the basics shared in the article, such as “every system in your body depends on water” and “water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.” On the other hand, the “lack of water can lead to dehydration,” robbing your body of the ability “to carry out normal functions” and draining your energy and making you tired.mayo_logo

Pretty fundamental information, however, I did read a challenge to the conventional thought of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

Eight 8-ounce glasses of water is “about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations.” (roughly 3 liters or about 13 cups for men and 2.2 liters or about 9 cups for women)

The article goes on to say that the rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, but remains popular because it’s easy to remember. To be more accurate, the author believes we should exchange the word fluid for water, “because all fluids count toward the daily total.”

The thought of water not being our only source of hydration is further explored in an article in Parade Magazine, The truth behind the myths parents tell kids, by Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy fame).

KenJennings“In 2002, a kidney specialist named Heinz Valtin, M.D., concluded this rule was an accident. Back in the 1940s, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended ‘one milliliter of water for each calorie of food.’ A 1,900-calorie diet would indeed work out to about 64 ounces of water a day. But everyone seems to have forgotten the next sentence: ‘Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.’ Most of our water gets to us in non-water form. In fact, a National Institutes of Health doctor told the Los Angeles Times that a healthy adult in a temperate climate could replace his body’s daily water loss with food alone! The Center for Nutrition found that even supposedly ‘diuretic’ beverages (like coffee, tea, and soda) provide almost all the hydration that water does.”

O.K., I’m not ready to give up drinking water or any other beverage to meet my hydration needs, but it is important to separate fact from assumption.


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The bottom line is that we need to listen to our bodies and drink when we’re thirsty. Hydrate when you exercise. Hydrate in hot or humid weather. Hydrate when you’re breast-feeding. Hydrate when you have an illness accompanied by fever, vomiting or diarrhea (although I’d drink Gatorade rather than water in this case).

Water might not be a miracle cure for what ails you, but it can’t hurt. It has zero calories, is inexpensive and is easily accessible (at least in most locations), so go to grab some water and let’s toast to a life filled with more **finesse!

*(yes, Google is now a verb – at least in my world)

**finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Inexpensive cod makes great summer dish

I’ve had quite a learning curve when it comes to choosing and preparing seafood for dinner. My parents were from the Mid-West, so we ate a lot of beef. During my entire childhood I can’t recall having any seafood except that which was breaded and formed into the shape of a stick.

In more than three decades of marriage, I’ve had some great success and horrendous failures fixing seafood, but in the last few years I think I’ve finally hit my stride. We eat salmon almost weekly and recently I’ve been buying cod.

I like the low price (about $5 per pound) and ease of preparation. I ask for pieces that are thicker, as the “skinny” end seems a little tough. I just throw it in a baking dish, spoon some fruit salsa over the top, cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (it’s done when it flakes easily with a fork). I would think you could fix it in a crock pot or in foil pouches on the grill if you didn’t want to heat up the kitchen. I pair the cod with brown and wild rice and a green salad and call it dinner!

Delicious, nutritious, easy and inexpensive!

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Are gray skies making me fat?

I heard a report on the news last night about a study linking insufficient levels of vitamin D to weight gain. I have to admit that my ears perk up anytime I hear of anything that might cause weight gain other than poor choices. Hey, it’s not the chocolate and lack of exercise – it’s the lack of sunshine!

The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found those with insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood gained about two pounds more than those with adequate levels of the vitamin. Two pounds?  At this point I’m thinking this isn’t really news. I can fluctuate up and down two pounds in a week easily.

According to an online article, the study involved more than 4,600 women age 65 over nearly five years. “In the group of 571 women who gained weight, those with insufficient vitamin D levels gained more — 18.5 pounds over five years — than women who had sufficient vitamin D,” said study author Dr. Erin LeBlanc, an endocrinologist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. “The latter group gained 16.4 pounds over the same period.” LeBlanc went on to say that although it was only 2 pounds, over time that can add up.

I’m always skeptical of studies, so I did a little math. According to the article, 78 percent (or 3588) of the 4600 study participants had a vitamin D deficiency, yet only 571 (or 12.4 percent) gained weight. If a lack of vitamin D is the reason for weight gain, then why didn’t a higher percentage of those with the deficiency gain weight? And why did a percentage of the 571 who gained weight do so in spite of having sufficient levels of vitamin D?

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a researcher, doctor or scientist, but this study doesn’t appear to prove any solid link between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain. Am I missing something? I don’t think so, but just in case I am, I think I’ll go outside and enjoy some natural vitamin D!

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Rotating workouts

I’m not a huge fan of exercise, but I do like the way I feel when I get into an exercise routine. My neurologist told me there’s evidence to suggest that regular exercise may not only reduce the intensity of migraines, but decrease their occurrence, as well. So far, my experience has not suggested such, but I do feel better overall. However, I want more from exercise than to feel better. I want to look better, too! Is that asking too much?

I don’t overeat, and generally try to eat healthy well-balanced meals. I do enjoy a dessert now and again, but not on a daily basis. So if I’m exercising and not overeating, why is the scale not budging? And, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve actually gained five pounds this year without changing my eating or exercise habits.

I’ve been walking on our treadmill at 18.1 minutes per mile with an incline of three percent for 30 minutes. I decided to see what would happen if I jogged at the same rate. Not wanting to impact my joints, I jogged for two minutes then walked one minute throughout the 30 minutes. I did see a small dip in my weight for about a week, but then nothing.

My hypothesis is that my body has adapted to the exercise, rendering it powerless to kick those extra pounds. I’ve not found any research to back up my hypothesis, but I did find one article on addressing this topic. “Performing the same workout regimen repetitively for long periods of time can decrease effectiveness, increase mental boredom and cause plateaus in progress.”

My new plan is to do the treadmill on Monday and Friday, Zumba on Tuesday and Thursday and Yoga on Wednesday. I don’t do Zumba or Yoga with a great deal of *finesse, so I’m grateful for the Wii versions I can do in the privacy of my home! While doing Zumba, I don’t worry too much if I miss steps – I just keep moving. Yoga reveals my core strength to be similar to that of a wet noodle, but that just leaves a lot of room for improvement! 

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Just five pounds

Every year I make the same resolution to lose five pounds. I’ve never succeeded in losing the five pounds but, I haven’t gained any weight either. This year is different, however. I’ve mysteriously gained five pounds while doing nothing different from the previous years.

I hear similar stories from other women my age, and many of us wonder if we should just accept this added weight as part of aging and start purchasing clothes one size larger. After all, it’s just five pounds. How bad can an extra five pounds be?

I remembered hearing an equation regarding the pressure of extra weight on your joints and decided to do a little research. According to the website Sharecare and several others, being overweight puts huge pressure on your joints. Here’s the equation: For each extra pound of excess weight on your body, you add 3 times that amount of pressure on your knees.

So the answer to my question is, five extra pounds adds 15 pounds of pressure to my aging knees, and that’s certainly not good.  And the pressure is more than doubled when walking up stairs! Instead of multiplying those five extra pounds by 3, you multiply by 7. Fifteen pounds of pressure just became 35 pounds. Over time, the force of those five extra pounds will wear down my cartilage, leading to arthritis. Losing the extra five pounds just moved from a vanity issue to a mobility issue!

From a very practical point of view, losing five pounds in one year is doable – for everyone. The Sharecare website goes on to state that the damage from the added pressure can be stopped and reversed. “As you lose weight and reduce the pressure on your joints, the cushioning between your bones will build back up. A 10 pound weight loss over 10 years may result in as much as a 50 percent decrease in your odds of developing osteoarthritis.”

So summon up a little *finesse and join me in kicking five pounds off the scales this year! Who knows, maybe we’ll feel so good about losing those five pounds, we’ll knock off another five pounds next year! But let’s do this one step at a time. And that may well be a literal statement if you’re carrying quite a bit of extra weight. Maybe the only thing you can do is get off the couch during commercial breaks during your favorite TV show and walk to the sink and get a glass of water. That’s movement and certainly better than sitting motionless for 30 minutes to an hour.

Let me know what you’re doing to lose five pounds and protect your joints.

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Can overeating be triggered by exercise?

I was always active as a child; riding my bike, playing tag – the usual kid stuff. I ran track in middle school and was a cheerleader in high school. I never gave much thought to exercise because I was proportioned adequately, looked fine in whatever I chose to wear and didn’t have any problem hiking the trails my dad thought we should explore.

Now as a middle-aged woman, the memory of that peppy, high school cheerleader has grown quite dim. I can honestly say that I’m not looking to regain that former appearance, but I do want to be as healthy as possible. I exercise and watch what I eat, but have watched the number on the scales creep higher and higher. So, it’s not surprising that an article in the New York Times titled, Does Exercise Make You Overeat, caught my eye.

The article covered two studies. In one study, researchers tracked activity in portions of the brain known as the food-reward system, which have been shown to control whether we like and want food. What hasn’t been clear is how exercise alters the food-reward network. That particular study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology determined that “Responsiveness to food cues was significantly reduced after exercise, and that reduction was spread across many different regions of the brain, including those that affect liking and wanting food, and the motivation to seek out food.”

However, the volunteers in that study were in their 20s, normal weight and fit enough to ride a bike strenuously for an hour. Since many of us do not fit that description, those results may not be typical. In fact, the other study of brain activity after exercise discussed found, some overweight, sedentary people respond to exercise, quite differently than their counterparts in the first study. Their food-reward systems became accelerated after exercise.

The two studies suggest that exercise does have an effect on our food reward regions, but the effect may depend on “who you are and what kind of exercise you do.”

“Four or five years ago, it really looked like appetite hormones controlled what we eat,” says Todd A. Hagobian, a professor of kinesiology at California Polytechnic who oversaw the first study. “But I’m more and more convinced that it’s the brain. Hormones don’t tell you to go eat. Your brain does. And if we can get the dose right, exercise might change that message.”

I don’t necessarily want to eat after I exercise, but I do probably feel a greater license to eat things I shouldn’t as a reward. I think I need a greater amount of *finesse to change that behavior!


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*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)