Avoiding Holiday Food Comas

Did you end up in a food coma like me on Thanksgiving? The holiday season is upon us when opportunities to overindulge seem frequent and plentiful – from parties with endless treats to munch on to family dinner gatherings with feasts that offer seconds, thirds and more of our favorite dishes. Despite the immediate satisfaction, overeating can lead to hours of discomfort and lethargy.

Here are three easy tips to practice in an effort to stop a food coma before it strikes.

1. HYDRATE: Drink water before, during and after indulging. Drinking water at optimal times will help avoid indigestion and keep the body hydrated. Water may also help you to eat less, since our bodies often mistake thirst for hunger. Start by drinking a full glass of water before you even leave your house and then make sure to drink up (water that is) while socializing.glass-531203_1920Image: PredragKezic via pixabay

2. FRUITS AND VEGGIES: Whether you’re cruising the appetizer table or victim to a full dinner buffet, aim to fill most of your plate  with fruits and veggies (go heavier on the veggies to avoid too much fructose). Fruits and veggies are not only hydrating foods but they also tend to be fiber-rich, which will fill you up faster and thus help to prevent overeating.salad-587669_1920Image: Kechn via pixabay

3. HERBAL TEA: When you return home with a full belly, treat yourself to a cup of  of herbal tea or better yet, make a cup of warm water with lemon and honey to help ease bloating and stimulate the digestive system. After you finish your warm drink, do a few yoga poses to improve digestion, and you’ll be in even better shape!tea-428306_1920
Image: Jarmoluk via pixabay

In addition to keeping these three hydrating tips in mind while you mingle, you should also be sure to stay clear of too many sweets (easier said than done). Large quantities of any food can cause a food coma, however, sugar, or sucrose, found in desserts tends to be the main culprit. When we consume sugar, our bodies produce extra insulin to help absorb the spike of glucose. In turn, the extra insulin causes our brains to produce more serotonin and melatonin, two neurochemicals that can make us feel drowsy and lethargic.

 

featured post image: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay

 

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Make a Conscious Choice: Tap Versus Bottled Water

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) holds all public sources of drinking water to strict safety standards, ensuring that the vast majority of U.S. citizens can trust the water that comes straight from their tap. However, in spite of this, many Americans choose to pass over free and clean water in favor of paying for bottled water. “There are many attributes that contribute to bottled water’s undeniable appeal to U.S. consumers,” said said Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). “Among them are bottled water’s healthfulness, convenience, reliability, and safety.”

Bottled water drinkers are part of a large and growing trend. In this decade alone, Americans have increased their annual consumption of bottled water by more than 11 gallons per person, from 25.4 gallons in 2005 to 36.5 gallons in 2015. In fact, bottled water is expected to overtake soft drinks as America’s largest beverage category by volume by 2017, if not by the end of 2016.

While it’s good news that Americans are choosing bottled water as a healthy alternative to other bottled beverages, including soft drinks, it seems that we’ve taken this health-conscious beverage swap to an “unhealthy” extreme. Sure, it’s great to buy water instead of soda, but our careless over-consumption of bottled water has a huge and growing impact on the environment.

I’d like to start by debunking the attributes of the ubiquitous bottled water that, according to the IBWA, have “undeniable appeal” to U.S. consumers.

  1. Healthfullness: While bottled water is healthier than soft drinks and other bottled beverages, it is by no means healthier than tap water. Pick yourself up a refillable water bottle and make a habit out of visiting the many refillable water stations that are popping up around the world. If you live somewhere that hasn’t quite caught up with the refillable trend, consider buying a refillable bottle with a built-in filter so that you’ll feel good about filling up with tap while on the go. There’s a wide range of filter bottles from this simple Brita to the extreme Lifesaver bottle, which can also get you through an emergency.
  1. Convenience: Americans love the convenience of a portable plastic bottle but does it really need to be disposable? Again, invest in a refillable container and make a habit out of keeping it full. In no time this solution will feel more convenient than anything else. Especially when you factor in the option to customize your water by adding booster drops, such as these Alkaline Drops with Antioxidants or natural flavor, such as H2wOw. There are small portable enhancers to meet just about any supplement or flavor boost you want, giving you the ability to completely personalize your water and have some fun with your hydration.
  1. Reliability: Is bottled water really any more reliable than tap? I would argue that tap water is one of the most accessible things in the U.S. We are so fortunate to basically be guaranteed clean and safe tap water, this is a luxury that should be appreciated!
  1. Safety: Many people choose bottled water because of concerns about the safety of their tap water, in some cases, these fears are reasonable however for the vast majority of people in the U.S. tap water is just as safe, if not safer. And, according to several blind taste tests, such as this one, tap is just as tasty as well. In the U.S. tap water is held to higher safety standards than bottled water. Tap water is regulated, often screened for dangerous pollutants and city government offices are required to share water information with their residents. Bottled water isn’t subject to the same reporting standards and doesn’t usually have to state what source it comes from or what methods were used to treat it. In addition, some microorganisms, that are normally of little or no public health significance, may grow to higher levels in bottled water. For example, Food Safety News reports that in June 2015, 14 different brands of bottled water had to be recalled because of possible contamination with E. coli bacteria. What’s more, the plastic used in single-use bottles can pose more of a contamination threat than the water itself.

When you look closely, IBWA’s attributes of so-called appeal aren’t valid, and are quite “deniable”. These claims are fueled in part by the huge marketing effort of the major water companies and bottling industry and in part by consumers, who need to justify their frivolous purchase of water.  In general, bottled water is no more pristine, tasty or healthy than water straight from the tap.

However, there are, in fact, real attributes to consider the next time you think about paying $1.50 or more for a bottle of water. The cost bottled water has on the environment and your wallet is very real. Bottled water is far more expensive than tap water, and it also uses many more resources to package, ship, and dispose of when the bottles are empty.

  1. Price: A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That’s about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water. Not only does bottled water contribute to excessive waste, but it costs us a thousand times more than water from the faucet. Furthermore, when you pay a price premium for bottled water, what you’re getting is often just tap water that’s been filtered or purified in some way. Both Dasani, bottled by the Coca-Cola company, and Aquafina, bottled by PepsiCo, start out with public water sources.
  1. Environment: Bottled water is a drain on the environment. The bottled water industry uses 1.5 million tons of plastic annually to package water, and the manufacturing and disposal of the plastic sends toxic chemicals into the environment. Transporting the bottles and keeping them cold also burns fossil fuels, which give off greenhouse gases. And, according to some estimates, it takes up to three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water! In addition, groundwater pumping by bottled-water companies draws heavily on underground aquifers and harms watersheds. Some major bottled water companies are making the drought in places like California worse, and violating local communities, by taking water for bottling on expired (and potentially illegal) permits.  

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that bottled water has a place and plays a vital role when public water supplies are compromised, such as in the aftermath of a natural disaster. So much so that I even wrote a post just last week urging readers to purchase bottled water to have on hand in case of an emergency. When clean tap water is unavailable, I appreciate that the bottled water industry is instrumental and has been (and will continue to be) there to ensure that people have access to safe, quality water. In developing countries where there is not a safe source of tap water, bottled water is necessary. And sure, even with our access to clean, safe tap water, there will always be times when buying a bottle of water is justified, such as on days of travel or when forgetting your refillable container. It’s not an all or nothing situation but it is an opportunity to be mindful of times of careless over-consumption. Bottled water clearly comes with a cost, both for consumers and the environment. We can each make a difference individually by choosing tap water more often. untitled_chart-1

Hydration During Exercise

Last week I wrote a post about the best times of day to hydrate, and I’m sure it came as no surprise that key times to hydrate include before, during and after exercise. While it’s obvious that exercise requires increased hydration, many people are unaware of just how much water intake directly impacts performance. Improper hydration can result in muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance, impeding energy and performance.

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Image Rubbermaid Products via Flickr

Sweat is one of the obvious things that happens during a workout; it’s the way our bodies cool down when they start to heat up.  It follows that the more a person sweats, the more water they should drink to replenish. Sweat rates vary by individual and are further influenced by factors including exercise intensity, exercise duration, the climate (including temperature and humidity), and the body’s pre-exercise hydration state.  It’s straightforward to check your individual sweat rate by weighing yourself directly before and after exercise and accounting for exactly how much water you consumed during the workout……you’ll also have to either hold your pee or take your pee-volume into account. You can google “calculating perspiration rate” for more details on how to compute your rate or use a handy sweat rate calculator like this one that I found on the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s website. Another quick metric of proper hydration is to note how often you’re urinating. Ideal hydration leads to urination every 1 – 2 hours, even during exercise.

Depending on your gender, age, size and perspiration rate, you lose about four cups (approximately one liter) of water per hour of exercise.  If you’re working out in a hot climate, you can easily lose up to two litres of water per hour during a cardio session.

Adequate water intake before, during and after exercise does more than replenish water lost from perspiration, it also plays a key function in maintaining blood volume and electrolyte balance. Electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium, are lost from the body with sweat. However, except in extreme cases, losses are small and replacement during exercise is not a priority. ‘Sports drinks’ often contain electrolytes, particularly sodium. These have the effect of stimulating water absorption from the small intestine, which is beneficial during exercise. In addition, after exercise, replacing lost sodium is essential for full recovery and rehydration. Extreme athletes will require fluids from a variety of sources, not just water. However, if you’re not an extreme athlete who requires a sports drink, consider something, without the sugar and calories, that will provide a mild electrolyte boost, such as Glaceau’s smartwater or H2wOw’s all natural water enhancer, with extracts of real fruits and mineral electrolytes.

I had planned to use infogr.am to make a cool graphic that listed how much water the average person needs before, during and after a workout but during my research I found something better than anything I would be able to make! The graphic below is from a post on greatist.com and includes recommendations on how much water to drink while exercising as well as a lot of other great information.

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Make Your Water Go Further: The Best Times of Day to Hydrate

If you’re reading this post, then you already know that drinking enough water is an important component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. BUT, it may surprise you to learn that when you drink water is almost equally important. This is especially true for those of us who aren’t disciplined enough to consistently drink water at regular intervals throughout the day.

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So, if you’re like me and not always or on top of your water intake, here are some simple guidelines to follow to help ensure that you hydrate at the most important times.

1. Drink Water After Waking Up
Make this the first thing you do after getting up……before a cup of coffee. Try adding lemon for even more benefit. One or two glasses of water first thing in the morning activates internal organs and remove any toxins before your first meal of the day. You’ll feel more awake and refreshed too!

2. Drink Water 30 Minutes Before Meals
One glass of water 30 minutes before a meal helps regulate digestion, curb your appetite and moisturize the stomach lining to better handle brittle and acidic foods.

3. Drink Water 1 Hour After Meals
One glass of water an hour after the meal HELPS the body to absorb the nutrients you just ate, drinking water too soon after a meal will dilute the body’s digestive juices.

4. Drink Water When You’re Hungry
If you’re hungry between meals, drink a glass of water first to see if you’re dehydrated. Sometimes people think they’re hungry when they’re really just thirsty.

5. Drink Water Before, During and After Exercise
Hydrating before a workout will keep your body from drying out and feeling thirsty. Drink at least 12 ounces before a workout. Depending on the temperature, humidity and your body’s weight and fluid levels, you’ll need one to several servings of water to protect against dehydration during and after workouts. Following vigorous exercise, be mindful to drink enough water to replace fluids lost through perspiration.

6. Drink Water 30 Minutes Before a Shower or Bath
Showering or bathing is relaxing and helps lower blood pressure. Drinking water before will help to further thin your blood and dilate blood vessels.

7. Drink Water 30 Minutes Before Going to Bed
A glass of water before going to bed has many health benefits, including helping to avoid the thickening of the blood which can cause stroke or heart attack. Hydrating before bed also helps balance hormones, replenishes any fluid loss that can occur during the night, and reduces nighttime leg cramping.

8. Drink Water When You Feel Tired
A glass of water when you feel tired will help the brain to regain focus and the body feel energized.  If you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep but still feel tired, you may be dehydrated; fatigue can be a sign of dehydration.

9. Drink Water When You’re Exposed to Germs
If you find yourself around someone who may be ill, drink more water than usual to help wash away germs and viruses that your body may have picked up. A well-hydrated body encourages bacterial and viral invaders to move along so they don’t settle and multiply in your system. The same holds true for when you’re sick, you need to drink plenty of fluids, including water, to get better.

10. Drink Water With Medicine
Water helps your kidneys flush out medicines so they go down smoothly. Do ensure you never take medicines with liquids other than water. Only water is safe with medicines as it doesn’t contain anything that can negatively affect how medicines are absorbed.

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Do You Know How Much Water You Drink in a Lifetime?

I love fun facts……like how much water the average person drinks in a lifetime. I know it’s a bit dorky but I can’t help myself 🙂 Somehow these random facts tend to stick with me and become ingrained in my head. And, they actually do make a difference in my actions, for example if I knew the total amount of water I would drink in a lifetime, perhaps I would become more cognizant of the quality of the water I was drinking or in how I can help make more of a difference to conserve water in CA, where our drought situation has become alarming. I believe “fun facts” can make an impact……they can surprise people and in turn get them to think about something differently, sometimes even producing microscopic (or greater) shifts in behavior.

The other night I was up way too late and feeling very guilty because:

  1. As some of you may recall, one of my 2015 New Year resolutions was to go to bed earlier and get more sleep (more on that another time), and
  2. I have not done a blog post in a very long time (long enough to be embarrassing).  I have so many great ideas for posts and so many drafts that I’ve started but time keeps slipping away and (without too many excuses) I’ve just fallen off track

So, to channel my guilt I decided to come up with a “fun fact” infographic to blog about and get myself back on track with writing regular posts. With my fun facts theme in mind, I went off on a tangent collecting random in-a-lifetime facts that for one reason or another interest me.

In addition to learning that the average person consumes 14,600 gallons of water, I learned many other things…….some will stay with me and some I will forget by tomorrow. On a side note, I’m always fascinated by what sticks in my brain and what I easily forget….. I learn a lot about myself by just observing what interests me at a subconscious level. I think the other fact that will stay with me is that the average person has 150 friends. At first this seemed like a very low number……I mean many people have friends in the thousands on social media. But this number really made me stop and think and when you start to count the true friendships in a lifetime that really shape a person 150 sounds on target and, at least for me, indicates that I have more amazing friendships to look forward to.

So, in an effort to keep this post very light and to not over think the content too much…..here is the infographic. Hopefully you will find at least one “fun fact” that will move you.

Your Life Infographic copy

Part 2: The Magic of Lemon and Honey in Water

As promised, I wanted to write about the myriad of reasons why warm water with lemon and honey is so good for you — especially in the morning when you first wake up.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about feeling really crummy and how hot water with lemon and honey helped me get through each day, you can read more about how this concoction helps a cold here: https://momloveswater.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/oh-honey-thanks-for-the-honey-with-lemon-in-hot-water/ This soothing drink made me feel so cozy and good that I’ve continued to drink it. So, I’m happy to know that this mixture’s go way beyond helping the common cold.

Here are 10 other reasons to drink this yummy medicinal combination:

  1. Stimulates Digestive System: Warm water with lemon and honey in the morning simply stimulates the digestive system and gets things moving.
  2. Improves Oral Health: The acidic nature of lemon combined with the innate properties of honey and water can help beat bad breath almost instantly. The lemon cleanses the mouth, activating your salivary glands and killing offensive bacteria. When added to honey and water, it helps wash down bacteria and degraded food that is usually present in your mouth and throat early in the morning.
  3. Helps The Waistline: Apart from its properties of cleansing the stomach, lemon contains a type of fiber called pectin, that helps make you feel full and keeps cravings at bay. Warm water, honey and lemon  also creates a more alkaline atmosphere in your stomach helping  you lose weight faster.
  4. Cleanses the Colon: A build-up of toxins in the stomach often makes us feel bloated. Even worse than this feeling, this same build-up (consisting of undigested food, intestinal cells and dead bacteria) often coats the inner lining of our stomach and is thought to lead to diseases. By drinking Lemon and honey in warm water the walls of the intestine – especially the colon – get stimulated, which leads to the expulsion of this build-up. A cleansed colon functions much better, thereby, helping your body absorb nutrients, get rid of toxins and stay hydrated.
  5. Flushes Out Toxins And Boosts Immune System:  The components of lemon stimulate your liver to produce more bile and help your digestive system by flushing out unwanted toxins. Honey acts as an antibacterial and helps beat any infections that might be present in your body.
  6. Improves Energy And Mood: Water helps clear your mind by providing fresh blood to your brain, lemon activates negatively charged enzymes in your stomach and improves digestion, and honey acts as an instant energy booster. What’s more, the scent of lemon is known to be a natural relaxant and can help uplift your mood.
  7. Cleanses Urinary Tract: Honey is a potent antibacterial agent, that has the capability to beat a number of common infections. When mixed with lemon and water, two agents that act as excellent diuretics, this concoction is the best way to cleanse your urinary tract. This mixture is especially good for women who suffer from frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) as it will keep recurrent infections at bay.
  8. Aids in Clearer Skin: As said above, lemon helps purify your blood which also helps in the production of new blood cells which act as potent cleaning agents. Water and honey offer unique restorative, antibacterial and collagen boosting properties to your skin as well.
  9. Hydrates Entire Lymphatic System: Research says that a dehydrated lymphatic system is a leading causes of illness. Lack of water and essential fluids in the lymphatic system can make you feel sluggish and fatigued, lead to constipation, disturbed sleep, high or low blood pressure, stress and an all-round lack in mental function. The benefit of drinking this mixture early in the morning is that it helps hydrate your entire lymphatic system, which not only helps all of the above symptoms but also improves immunity.
  10. Tastes Delicious: This doesn’t need any explanation — just give it a try! Use warm (not hot) water, add the juice of around half a lemon and one teaspoon of honey, mix well and drink.
Honey and Lemon are two Powerful Ingredients. Image from: http://www.babydigezt.com
Honey and Lemon are two Powerful Ingredients. Image from: http://www.babydigezt.com

Although this drink will always provide some benefit, if you drink warm water with lemon and honey first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, you will reap much more. Additionally, for full benefit, you shouldn’t drink coffee or tea for at least one hour after (I’m still working on my timing and I definitely haven’t worked up to waiting an hour to drink my morning cup of java).

Thanks to The Health Site for helping me explain the content on my list http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/why-drinking-water-early-in-the-morning-good-for-health-p214/

Minerals and Electrolytes – What Are They and How to Get Enough

Most of us are somewhat familiar with electrolytes and know about things like Gatorade to replenish but what I’m going to talk about goes way beyond drinking a sports drink after heavy exercise. While I hold strong that water is the most essential nutrient for the body, I know that water is not the only supplement our bodies crave. Our bodies are basically made up of the same things that make up the earth, so beyond water we need to think about the soil and thus what’s in (or supposed to be in) the earth’s soil. Minerals. Beyond water (or better yet, with our water) our bodies need replenishment of minerals.

I’ve always found the difference between electrolytes and minerals somewhat confusing. Some experts say it’s all the same, or is at least converted within the body to be all the same but I didn’t entirely get it. One of my goals in writing this week’s blog is to gain a better understanding for myself of the similarities and differences (and hopefully be able to convey this new understanding in a very articulate way to you)

Trace Minerals

There are two types of minerals your body needs to stay healthy: major and trace minerals. As their names suggest, your body needs large amounts of major minerals and only very small amounts of trace minerals for normal function. Major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Trace minerals are a group of minerals that the body needs in very small amounts. Types of trace minerals include iron, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, iodine, bromine, and selenium. Both major and trace minerals are vital for all body functions and processes. Without minerals our bodies would not be able to build new tissue, flex and contract muscles, transmit nerve impulses, clot blood, maintain a neutral pH and keep our heart beating.

minerals

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals in your body have an electric charge known as ions. They are in all of our body fluids, tissues and cells. Maintaining the right balance of electrolytes helps the body’s blood chemistry, muscle action and other processes. Electrolytes are primarily composed of the minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, phosphates and sulfates. They are essential because they are used by our cells to create and carry voltages across cell membranes and they’re a big player in the communication between our cells. You get them from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink.

Electrolytes2

Proper hydration, mineral and electrolyte status are vitally important aspects of our health. Traditionally, eating fresh grains, fruits, and vegetables grown in nutrient-rich soil, was the primary supply for a full spectrum of minerals. However, in today’s world, naturally occurring, nutrient-rich soil is becoming increasingly rare and our intake of all essential elements is at risk of being inadequate. Modern living, with its dependency on processed foods, increased consumption of purified and/or distilled water, and depleted soil has culminated in a distinct drop in meeting our mineral needs. Even though I try to eat a very healthy diet that is full of unprocessed and organic foods, I still take an active role in restoring my mineral balance with dietary supplements and occasional beverages that help me meet my electrolyte requirements. Here are some of the things I incorporate into my daily life to help meet my mineral and electrolyte needs:

1. Coconut Water: If I’m sick or doing intense cardio training (or otherwise feeling dehydrated), I always turn to coconut water. Coconut water restores electrolytes, carbohydrates and other nutrients — it even packs  about the same amount of potassium as a banana.

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Coconut water, full of electrolytes and other nutrients, has earned the reputation as nature’s sports drink

 

2. High quality Sea Salt: High quality seal salt like the one I use pictured below, Celtic Sea Salt, contains electrolytes and trace minerals. Each morning, I prepare a pitcher of water for my family to fill their glasses and water containers with and leave it on the counter. In this water I always put 3-4 pinches of sea salt. I also use this salt for cooking and baking.

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High quality and properly harvested Celtic Sea Salt contains electrolytes and trace minerals

 

3. Trace Mineral Drops: I take a daily dose of high quality trace mineral drops, like the one pictured below. I know I get my major minerals through my diet and other supplementation but I find I need to be more intentional about getting enough trace minerals so I supplement with this regularly.

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Trace mineral drops help me ensure I’m getting enough “minor” minerals too

 4. Epsom Salt: This is my favorite! My doctor told me that our bodies absorb magnesium simply by soaking in Epsom Salts — what could possibly be a better excuse than that to take a relaxing bath? I also put Epsom Salts into my kids’ bath a few times each week.

Dr. Teals
The best way I can think of to get my magnesium!

 

Please check back next week, I’ll be taking things in another direction and blogging about Paddle Board Yoga……something I just tried for the first time. Since it takes place in the water I figured I could tie it in to MomLovesWater 🙂

How Much Water Do I Need and What Really Counts?

Water is our body’s main component and makes up about 60 percent of our body weight. It’s an essential part of our health since every system in our body depends on it. We should all want to keep our body happy and functioning optimally, and drinking enough water seems like a pretty easy way to make a big impact. But how much is enough? It seems like water intake recommendations change as often as the seasons, as does the list of what actually counts toward the ounces. There is no magic formula but there are general guidelines that should help us stay on track, especially when considered in conjunction with individual lifestyles.

how much H2O do you need? Image courtesy of http://www.cleanwateraction.org

The ‘eight glasses of water a day’ guideline that’s ingrained in my head (and most likely yours), is no longer the right rule of thumb. The most recent report by The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (released 2/11/14) includes total water general recommendations for women of approximately 11.5 8-ounce glasses (91 ounces or 2.7 liters), and men approximately 15.5 8-ounce glasses (125 ounces daily or 3.7 liters ).

The truth is…..You need more than 8 cups of water each day photo courtesy of: Rita Maas

These are “general” recommendations for a reason. It should go without saying that water needs depend on many individual factors, including health, age, weight, activity-level, climate and pregnancy / breast-feeding. The following information is probably obvious and really just a matter of common sense:

  • Exercise – If you engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups (400 to 600 millilitres) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour requires more fluid intake.
  • Climate / Environment – Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves and require additional hydration.
  • Illnesses – When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you need to drink more water to replenish. 
  • Pregnancy & breast-feeding – Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink approximately 13 cups (3 liters or 101 ounces) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 16 cups (3.8 liters or 128 ounces) of fluids a day.

So what exactly counts toward the optimal intake number? It’s also ingrained in my head that beverages like coffee clearly do not count because caffeine is dehydrating, however this is no longer the case. For the most part, current recommendations say that all fluids count toward your daily “water total”. Beverages such as milk and juice are composed mostly of water, and even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages (i.e. coffee) can contribute, though these beverages should not make up a major portion of your total fluid intake.

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Even wine and coffee contribute to your total water intake Photo courtesy of: Rob Qld/Flickr

And, not only does just about any fluid count, food counts too! On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and spinach, are 90 percent or more water by weight. For more on this see my earlier blog post ‘Keeping My Kids Hydrated with Water-Packed Foods‘ I’m a big fan of hydration through healthy foods, especially for those that have a hard time meeting the recommendations through fluids alone.

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Hydrating foods are an awesome way to “drink” your water Image by Mark Laita (courtesy of Runner’s World)

I wouldn’t run out and buy a fancy water tracker just yet, with almost all fluids counting toward the total, along with the water content found in food, the vast majority of healthy people will adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide. However. it’s always beneficial to pay attention to your intake and be aware and ready to compensate for changes in your routine or environment that will have your body wanting more. And although the new guidelines allow for lots of creativity in meeting your water intake, remember that basic H2O is still your best bet because it’s the most rehydrating, readily available and inexpensive.

Personally I think gadgets like this Intelligent Water Bottle are a waste of money but if you like gadgets and think it will help you drink more then give it a try
 Check back next week, I’ll be blogging about trace minerals and electrolytes.

What’s On Tap? It’s Hetch Hetchy For Me!

Hetch Hetchy might sound like the latest trendy micro brew but it’s actually San Francisco’s delicious tap water that comes from the pristine snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. If this has you thinking about California’s drought, don’t worry this is a whole other blog post that I will get to in the future but for now I’m sticking with the positive, which is lucky for me, and everyone else in San Francisco, I have access to incredible tap water both at home and while I’m out and about in the city thanks to San Francisco’s myriad of water filling stations.  According to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Hetch Hetchy water is quality tested over 100,000 times a year, and goes straight to the tap. Tap water is also highly regulated by the EPA and across state and local water quality standards. Seriously, why would anyone in San Francisco buy bottled water, which is often nowhere near as “clean” as what comes from our tap?

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Hetch Hetchy Reservoir at Sunset Image courtesy of Justin Gaerlan https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcue786/

San Francisco’s “Drink Tap Program” began installing water filling stations throughout the city in 2010 and for the past four years I haven’t left home without a reusable canteen! Refilling stations can be found all over the city and beyond, from the Marina Green and Golden Gate Park to UCSF Medical Center and San Francisco International Airport. Not only do refilling stations provide access to free and delicious water but they encourage conserving our natural resources and reduce waste from single-use plastic water bottles.

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Globaltap Water filling station at the San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco may have been the pioneer of a public water filling station initiative, however filling stations are not unique to this city. Many other cities, including Boston and Wahington DC, have “Tap It” initiatives underway and many other private and public institutions have rolled out their own Water Filling Station Programs. Filling stations are especially on the rise and popular at colleges and universities where the average student spends hundreds of dollars each year purchasing bottled water, and more than 38 million of those plastic bottles end up in landfills annually, according to San Francisco State’s Office of Sustainability. Hopefully if you’re reading this, you live in a place where filling stations exist or are planned for the near future. If not, I urge you to still consider bringing your own container with you wherever you go, water fountains are a little awkward but still work to refill and many restaurants and cafes have help yourself filtered water available. Chances are that the water you fill your own container with will be as good or better for you than what you can buy so save some money and do something great for the environment too! 

If you’re not convinced, check out TapIt’s Infographic below, showing 10 reasons why you should drink tap water. A picture is worth a thousand words.

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10 reasons to drink tap water, courtesy of Tap It http://www.tapitwater.com/blog/drinking-water/

Please check back next week, I’ll be blogging about how much water you should really be drinking each day and what really counts toward your intake.

Keeping My Kids Hydrated with Water-Packed Foods

My older daughter Cypress had to be taken to the emergency room last year with severe neck pain and a host of other symptoms. She was just over 5 at the time. Luckily, it turned out to be just a scare and basically “nothing”, however the doctor told me that her symptoms could have been caused in part by dehydration. I was shocked by this……I thought to myself “I’m a good mom”, I send her to school everyday with a full water bottle, I always have water with me, how could this be? But as my initial defensiveness subsided and I began to review the previous few weeks in my head, I realized there were many days that the water bottle I packed for school came back home full and that although I offered water throughout the day there really was no guarantee that she was drinking enough. So, I did what any parent would do and began monitoring her water intake much more closely and really tried to encourage her to drink more, explaining in layman’s terms why water is so important for our bodies. Her water intake definitely improved but I was still feeling like she wasn’t drinking enough.

I decided that I needed to get more creative and tried a range of things. I don’t generally allow juice, however I found if I put a small splash of some sort of organic juice (apple, blueberry, grape) in her water, she did tend to drink more. I also discovered that she liked tea and in the morning and evening began making various teas like hibiscus, berry and mint, sweetened with just a tiny drop of stevia. However, one of my favorite ways that I began to “sneak” water into her was by packing a lunch full of hydrating foods. Hydrating through foods has been a change that has stuck for our entire family, becoming a healthy habit that I no longer need to try to remember to do.

Her lunch today included half of a turkey sandwich, along with a side of fruits and veggies that all toll added up to more than 1 cup of water!

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I fill the lunchbox with as many hydrating foods as possible

It’s a fact, eating foods, such as cucumbers or strawberries, contribute to your overall fluid intake and help you stay hydrated. And, there are so many water-packed foods that I can constantly rotate to keep lunch interesting. What’s more, her lunches are filled with a lot more nutrition. There’s Vitamin C in everything pictured, not to mention the lycopene in watermelon and peppers, fiber in cucumbers, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene and folic acid in red pepper and my favorite….celery, which contains the highest percent of water along with the longest list of nutrients, including vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty essential amino acids.

And, if extra hydration and nutrition isn’t enough to convince you, adults may be interested to learn that research shows that eating foods that are full of water will also help keep you satisfied on fewer calories.

Here’s a table of some of my lunchbox favorites, including water content percent and some of the added nutritional benefits of each food:

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A table of some of my lunchbox favorites along with some of their other benefits

And for those of you that need even more evidence in order to start integrating hydrating foods into your diet, I will leave you with this……A 2009 study at the University of Aberdeen Medical School found that the combination of salts, minerals and natural sugars in some fruits and vegetables can actually hydrate people more effectively than water or even sports drinks. Watermelon was on top of the list, thanks to its 92 percent water content and essential rehydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.