Drink more water for a strong heart

Drinking more water may reduce the risk of heart failure

If you forget to bring a water bottle to work, you are not alone. I have clients that always come to their workouts with water, and clients that never do. There’s no definitive answer as to how much water you need, but many of us aren’t drinking enough of it. While guidelines vary, generally women need between six to eight cups, and men need approximately eight to 12 cups. It depends on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.

Water makes up approximately 50-70% of our body weight. It keeps our temperatures normal, cushions joints, protects our spinal cord, flushes bacteria from the bladder and carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells. Getting enough fluids also normalizes blood pressure and stabilizes the heart. It’s important to stay hydrated, as everyday we lose water through breathing, sweating and peeing.

New studies by researchers at the National Institute of Health suggest that staying well hydrated not only supports essential health, but may also reduce the risk of heart failure or long-term risks for heart disease. Heart failure is a chronic condition that happens when the heart does not pump enough blood for the body’s needs.

Approximately 11,814 healthy adults were in the final study. Of those, 11.56% later developed heart failure. To assess possible links with hydration, researchers analyzed levels of serum sodium. Serum sodium increases as the body’s fluid levels drop, and helped identify older adults with an increased risk of developing either heart failure or left ventricular hypertrophy, an enlargement and thickening of the heart. Higher serum-sodium levels at middle age showed a 102% increased risk for left ventricular hypertrophy and a 54% increased risk for heart failure.

All beverages, even coffee or alcohol, contribute to hydration. A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report notes that it is a myth that caffeinated drinks or alcohol are dehydrating because they make you urinate. They do, but over the course of a day, the water from these beverages still lead to a net positive contribution to total fluid intake.

Of course, water is still the best option, as sugary drinks can lead to weight gain and inflammation. Caffeine, for some, can give you the jitters or keep you from sleeping. And alcohol intake, research suggests, should be limited to one drink per day for women, and one-to-two drinks per day for men.

You can also get fluids from water-rich foods, such as salads and fruit. Aim to have water throughout the day and water at each meal, as well as socially.

Remember that thirst is not an indicator of hydration. Signs that you are dehydrated are less frequent urination, dark-colored pee, fatigue, confusion or dizziness. Drink for health.

Published April, 23, 2022 in the Idaho Mountain Express


Coffee’s highs and lows

Coffee may protect you against developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

You’re in your pajamas or sweats, and the coffee’s on. Without even trying, you’ve just done something positive, as coffee may protect you against developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Though it’s certainly not a cure, a new study out of the Krembil Brain Institute investigated how certain components within coffee can decrease your risk of cognitive decline.

It turns out that the roasting process of coffee beans leads to higher quantities of a compound known as phenylindanes, which act as warriors against specific protein fragments common in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The other plus to the discovery is that phenylindanes are a natural compound, one from Mother Nature, and easy to extract for further research.

A hot cup of Joe isn’t for everyone, though, and many have turned to cold coffee because they find it less acidic, and want to avoid heartburn or gastrointestinal distress. The U.S. market grew 580 percent from 2011 to 2016 to cold-brew coffee preferences, which is a no-heat long-steeping method of preparation. A new study published in Scientific Reports shows that the pH levels of both hot- and cold-brew coffee are overall quite similar, ranging from 4.5 to 5.13 for all samples tested. So switching to a cold brew shouldn’t be a “silver bullet” to avoid stomach distress, cautions one of the authors of the study, says Megan Fuller, Ph.D.

You can be pleased about the merits of your hot-brewed coffee, as it has more antioxidant capacity than cold coffee, thanks to an organic acid called titratable. And we might not even realize that we are getting beneficial antioxidants in our diet, as, according to the National Coffee Association, 64 percent of Americans 18 and over drink at least one cup of coffee a day, with an average daily consumption of 3.2 cups. If you enjoy breakfast tea, you are consuming less than 150 milligrams of caffeine, compared with the nearly 500 milligrams in the same amount of brewed coffee.

Kids and caffeine: What are the risks?

Children are vulnerable to the effects of caffeine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t want them ever touching the stuff. Or energy drinks. Because they weigh less than adults, when they do consume caffeine, its concentration in the body is higher per kilogram of body weight, and can cause headaches, dehydration, nervousness and difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Furthermore, its effects will last longer than the three to seven hours it takes for an adult to break down caffeine.

Bittersweet Addiction

We shouldn’t really like coffee, as it’s bitter, but weirdly, reports show that the more sensitive you are to the bitter taste of coffee, the more of it you drink. By evolutionary logic, you would typically spit out something that was bitter and might harm you. But a new study of more than 400,000 men and women in the U.K. suggests that the positive reinforcement, namely the stimulant elicited by caffeine, negates the bitterness, and instead, triggers our reward center. We associate “good things with it.”

Coffee or tea, that’s a daily habit that you could feel good about.


More good news for coffee drinkers

More good news for coffee drinkers

Caffeine could protect against dementia

    Caffeine is one of the strongest of 24 compounds that Indiana University scientists recently identified that can protect against dementia. Caffeine boosts an enzyme in the brain, called NMNAT2, that guards neurons from stress and combats the formation of plaques due to aging. Plaques, tangled and oddly folded proteins, called tau, have been linked to debilitating neurological  disorders  such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Lou Gerhig’s diseases. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common condition, affects 1 in 9 people over age 65—almost 5.5 million people—and the numbers are expected to grow as our population ages. As scientists continue to identify compounds that could play a role in halting the deterioration of proteins in the brain, don’t feel bad about your coffee fix.

 Golf performance, fatigue, and caffeine

    From an intensity perspective, the physiological demands of playing 18 holes are half the energy expenditure of running. But competitive golfing can be mentally and physically exhausting. Critical shot-making decisions, hand–eye coordination, high-level motor and biomechanical skill and numerous maximum-effort shots all play a role in competitive golf. Caffeine is one of the most common go-to ergogenic aids for elite athletes, and that extra jolt of caffeine might help improve concentration, energy, reaction time, fatigue and overall confidence during an 18-hole round. A recent study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise suggests that caffeine-containing supplements before or during golf can improve iron club accuracy, drive distance and overall golf scores.

The buzz on health risks and benefits

    Coffee keeps us awake or makes up for inadequate sleep, and has been revered for just that as far back as the sixth century. However, caffeine’s ability to stimulate the central nervous system doesn’t hide the fact that it is still a drug. Some people are genetically more susceptible and don’t enjoy the jittery effects of it.

    But the good news is that it can be a good habit. Recent scientific studies show that coffee shines from a cardiovascular standpoint in that it can decrease the onset of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. More so than fruits and vegetables, coffee is the No. 1 source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, having more antioxidants than blueberries, raspberries or green tea. Your morning joe (or tea, coming in second) contains large amounts of several powerful antioxidants, including phenols and polyphenol compounds that help neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.

    The bottom line is that if you enjoy it, moderate caffeine use offers much from an overall cardiovascular standpoint and numerous health benefits.

 Connie Aronson is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at the YMCA in Ketchum. Learn more at www.conniearonson.com.

Published in the Idaho Mountain Express April 7, 2017


Coffee counts when it comes to staying hydrated

A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.

A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.

In the  wonderful ending from Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” he lists certain things that make life worth living: Groucho Marx, the second movement of the Juniper Symphony, Marlon Brando. For me, the smell of morning coffee that my boyfriend  makes first thing has to be on that list. Ah. There is now more good news on the positive effects of coffee on health, and the once held belief that coffee dehydrates isn’t so.

A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.
A recent study from the University of Birmingham has found no significant difference in subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water. Courtesy photo by Connie Aronson.

It turns out your morning Joe not only gets you going and boosts alertness, but is as hydrating as water. That’s good news for those 1.6 billion cups of coffee enjoyed worldwide on any given day.

In a new study from the University of Birmingham in the UK , participants drank about three and one-third cups of coffee per day for three days in a row.  Then they drank the same amount of water for three consecutive days. Controlling for physical activity and food and fluid intake, the researchers compared a wide range of markers (total body water, body mass measurements, kidney function, urine volume, and blood values) and found no significant difference in the subjects’ hydration status when they were drinking coffee versus water.

Although the study sample is small (50 adult men who were habitual coffee-drinkers), its findings echo similar previously collected data regarding the relationship between moderate caffeine consumption and hydration.

It’s important to stay hydrated and drink fluids throughout the day, and water is still a good first choice. After all, water is essential for life, as it transports nutrients, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, helps preserve cardiovascular function and aids with weight management.

A typical adult needs anywhere from 11 cups of water per day for females to 16 cups for males, according to The Institute of Medicine Water Intake Recommendation. Diet, ( i.e. that bunch of grapes, or apple, full of water) physical activity level, age and environmental conditions (such as humidity) all effect proper hydration levels. For example, colder days impact urine output, and more intense activity increases water loss.

However, during these cold months, remember not to go overboard on the hot chocolate, cream, and mocha’s just yet. It is the coffee itself, not just the caffeine, that is so unique.

Coffee contains hundreds of different chemical compounds. The Coffea plant’s roasted berries, ( they’re not actually beans), has a very strong antioxidant capacity, more so than blueberries or broccoli. It’s benefits are many, including a positive impact on memory, recently published in Nature Neuroscience. Coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers are also protected from dementia and Parkinson’s as they age, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancers and stroke.

While having lots of coffee isn’t recommended for everyone, for some of us, it’s a great way to start a perfect day.


Water-Plain Good Sense

Nothing can be plainer than water, yet it is a vital source of life. It is an essential nutrient for us, and essential for all living things. Like the earths surface, our bodies are composed of roughly 60 to 70 per cent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs and brain are composed of 75%, 70% and 90% water respectively. We need water to regulate  temperature  and to provide the means  for nutrients to travel to our organs. Water also transports oxygen to our cells, removes waste, and protects our joints.  Yet many of us aren’t drinking enough fluids to keep us adequately hydrated. Although it makes sense that you would be thirsty if you needed water, thirst isn’t an indicator of hydration. By that time, lethargy, headaches, muscle cramps, or diminished performance are all warning signs that you might be mildly dehydrated.

Each day we need to replace 2.4 liters of water that we lose from breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom. Broken down, we pee approximately 6.3 cups a day, plus another 4 cups of water through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. We can easily get 20% of the water we need through the food we eat. Fruits, for example, have more water than something dry like pretzels. The other 80% of fluid that you need comes from what you drink, and a little more than 8 cups, along with the food that you eat, will typically replace your lost fluids. In general, 8-9 cups is a good guideline, though variables such as your health, where you live and how active you are may vary person to person. A simple way to tell if you are dehydrated is that you don’t have to get up in the night to pee. ( Color should be clear )

Drink more water

I’ve always thought the title “drink more water” would be a no-brainer bestseller. Plain water fills you up. Researchers at Virginia Tech recently finished a 12 week study of 2 groups of people on the same diet. The only difference was that one group was told to drink 2 cups of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is no surprise that at the end of the study the water drinkers lost 30% more weight: 16 pounds to the 11 pound loss of the non-drinkers. The choices of waters with electrolytes, vitamins, sodium or caffeine is vast, and unless you are exercising for more than an hour, tap water, bottled or sparkling water is preferable, and slightly chilled, for increasing absorption. If you don’t really like water, try adding a squeeze of lime, lemon   or fruit slices to make it more palatable.

If you like plain brewed coffee, don’t worry. Once considered questionable for your health, coffee is not as much a diuretic as once thought. It is, if you drink more than 4 cups a day, but recent research shows that not only does it provide liquid, but valuable antioxidants as well. If you regularly consume caffeine the body will regulate itself to any diuretic effect .If you are sensitive to caffeine, as it is a nervous system stimulant, there is a vast array of herbal teas, many with soothing and healing properties. Again, water is the probably the best, inexpensive and readily available choice for hydration.

As the temperatures drop this fall, and you stay active, remember to drink at least 2 cups of fluid approximately 2 hours before you exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink at least half a cup of water every 15 minutes during exercise. Whether you’re in spin class, hiking or practicing a vinyasa flow sequence, also drink another 2 cups of fluid for every pound you lose during exercise. A lot of water, I know, but it is the stuff of life. A simple prescription for a  happy healthy hydrated life.

Connie Aronson is American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health and Fitness Specialist , currently in the Mediterranean Sea enjoying the water.