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Benefits of Daily Probiotics

goodbacteriaProbiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

References
Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
http://alturl.com/354h8
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011

Limiting Weight Gain during Pregnancy

How much weight should I gain?
Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy by eating a healthy, balanced diet is a good sign that your baby is getting all the nutrients he or she needs and is growing at a healthy rate.

Weight gain should be slow and gradual. In general, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during your first three months of pregnancy and 1 pound a week for the remainder of your pregnancy, unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will tell you how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. A woman of average weight and height and/or normal BMI before pregnancy can expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. You may need to gain more or less weight, depending on what your healthcare provider recommends.

It is not necessary to “eat for two” during pregnancy. It’s true that you need extra calories from nutrient-rich foods to help your baby grow, but you generally need to consume only 200 to 300 more calories than you did before you became pregnant to meet the needs of your growing baby.

Follow the guidelines below if you are gaining weight too quickly during pregnancy.

What if I have gained too much weight?
If you have gained more weight than recommended during the beginning of your pregnancy, DO NOT try to lose weight. It is never safe to lose weight during pregnancy — both you and your baby need the proper nutrients in order to be healthy.

Be sure to eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you and your baby need. Follow the guidelines and serving recommendations on The Food Guide Pyramid to avoid further excess weight gain. Think about the foods you eat and avoid those foods that will not give you and your baby the nutrition you both need. Follow the glycemic index,which is simply a measurement of the impact carbohydrates have on your blood sugar levels. Check out http://tinyurl.com/8vqbtv. Make sure you are active and getting adequate time in for exercise.

Keep in mind that you will lose some weight during the first week your baby is born. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you lose the remaining weight by following a balanced diet and exercising.

If you are gaining weight too fast during pregnancy…

When eating out at a fast food restaurant, choose lower fat items such as broiled chicken breast sandwich with tomato and lettuce (no sauce or mayonnaise), side salad with low-fat dressing, plain bagels or a plain baked potato. Avoid fried foods such as french fries, mozzarella sticks or breaded chicken patties.Avoid whole milk products. You need at least 4 servings of milk products every day. However, using skim, 1 or 2 percent milk will greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you eat. Also choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.Limit sweet or sugary drinks. Sweetened drinks such as soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, iced tea, lemonade or powdered drink mixes provide many calories with little nutrients. Choose water, club soda, or mineral water to avoid extra calories.

Do not add salt to foods when cooking. Salt causes your body to retain water.

Limit sweets and high calorie snacks. Cookies, candies, donuts, cakes, syrup, honey and potato chips provide many calories with little nutrition. Try not to eat these types of foods every day. Instead, try fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, angel food cake with strawberries, or pretzels as lower calorie snack and dessert choices.Use fats in moderation. Fats include cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, regular salad dressings, sauces, lard, sour cream and cream cheese. Try the lower fat substitutes that are available for these foods.Prepare meals using low-fat cooking methods. Frying foods in oil or butter will increase the calories and fat of that meal. Baking, broiling or boiling are healthier, lower fat methods of cooking. Read Labels of food you purchase!

Exercise. Moderate exercise, as recommended by your healthcare provider, can help burn excess calories. Walking or swimming is safe, effective exercises for pregnant women. It is perfectly safe for you to walk 30 to 60 minutes every day. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Open your front door and walk away from your house for 15 minutes as fast as you can. If you can sing while you walk, you are not walking fast enough.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.

Benefits of Daily Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

References
Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
http://alturl.com/354h8
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011

Preconception Counselling

Becoming a parent is a major commitment in life. It can be met with challenges, rewards and informed choices. Before you conceive, be sure to incorporate a healthy life-style to ensure optimal health for mom and baby. Receiving preconceptional counseling and care can lay the ground work for a healthy lifestyle and healthy pregnancy. Good health before pregnancy can help you cope with the stress of pregnancy, labor and birth. Obtaining good health care before you conceive will help you throughout your pregnancy. It also provides you with the opportunity to find out your risks, treat any medical problems that may affect the outcome of your pregnancy and adopt or continue a healthy lifestyle.

If you are planning to conceive, schedule a preconceptional visit with your healthcare provider. Included in your visit is a comprehensive history of your health including: Family history and risk factors, your medical history, surgical history, medications that you are presently taking including vitamins, supplements, OTC (over-the-counter) meds; your diet and lifetstyle and any past pregnancies.

Your preconception visit is a time for you to ask questions. Do not hesitate to seek advice, discuss your concerns and your options. Your healthcare provider is there to provide information and guidance to help you make informed choices in your healthcare to help you obtain and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Women who are planning to conceive should stop their form of birth control several months in advance. Even though methods vary in use, it may affect when your menses resumes and becomes regular. During this time you may also want to start taking a prenatal vitamin daily to ensure you are getting added vitamins and increased folic acid.

Your lifestyle includes diet, exercise, weight, substance use, living/working environment and infection history. Current immunizations are important to prevent any infections during your pregnancy that can harm you and your baby, even if you were vaccinated as a child (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus), you may not be immune now. If you are vaccinated prior to conceiving, you will be protected. The vaccine for mumps, measles and especially rubella should be given at least 3 months prior to conceiving. During this period of time, you should use a reliable method birth control.

Optimal health at any time during your lifetime involves a healthy diet and the proper amount of exercise. Ideally, you should be in good physical shape and follow a regular exercise regimen before your conceive. If you are not used to being active, you should start an exercise program gradually.

Tobacco, alcohol and recreational (illegal) drug use is addictive and can harm you and your baby that can last a lifetime or even result in death. They can have detrimental affects on the organ formation, causing damage. The misuse of prescription medication can also harm the fetus. For the sake of your own health and that of your baby, now is a good time to cut back on smoking and alcohol and quit all recreational drugs. It takes time and patience to quit a habit, especially if you have had that particular habit for a long time. Ask your healthcare provider to suggest ways to get through the withdrawal state or quitting and to refer you to support groups. Your decision to quit may be one of the hardest things you have ever done, but it will be one of the most worthwhile.

Does your work environment impose any hazards? If you are trying to conceive, it is a good idea to look closely at your work place and surroundings. Are you exposed to toxic substances, chemicals, or radiation? Discuss your level of exposure to specific substances with your employee health division, personnel office or union representative.

Exposure to lead or certain solvents, pesticides or other chemicals can reduce your partner’s fertility by killing or damaging sperm. Unlike women, who are born with a complete supply of eggs for their entire lifespan, men make new sperm on a daily basis for most of their lives. Unless the damage to a man’s reproductive system is very serious, he will probably be able to make healthy sperm against a short time span after his exposure to the harmful material stops.

Healthy lifestyle choices during pregnancy are essential. Your health care provider will likely discuss the importance of a healthy diet, regular physical activity and keeping stress under control. If you’re underweight or overweight, your health care provider may recommend addressing your weight before you conceive.

Questions to Consider…
• Do I or a member of my family have a disorder that could be inherited?
• Do I need to gain or lose weight to prepare for pregnancy?
• Should I make any changes in my lifestyle?
• Could any medications I am taking cause problems during my pregnancy?
• Can I continue my present exercise program?
• Does my work expose me to things that could be harmful during pregnancy?
• Do I need to be vaccinated for any infectious diseases before I try to conceive?

What about your partner’s lifestyle?
If possible, have your partner attend the preconception visit with you. Your partner’s health and lifestyle — including family medical history and risk factors for infections or birth defects — are important because they can affect you and your baby.

The Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea in Pregnancy

Red Raspberry leaf tea is one of the safest and commonly used tonic herbs for women wanting to get pregnant or for women who are already pregnant. Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) tones the uterus, improves contractions and decreases constipation. Most tonics need to be used regularly, for a tonic is to the cells much like exercise is to the muscles; not much help when done irregularly . But you will still benefit even from occasional use of tonics during pregnancy, since they contain nourishing factors. The herb comes in forms of leaves to make teas or tonics as well as pill like capsules you can swallow.
Most of the benefits given to regular use of Raspberry lea tea throughout pregnancy can be traced to the strengthening power of fragrine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself; and to the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in this plant. There is rich concentration of Vitamin C, the presence of Vitamin E and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. Raspberry leaves also contain vitamins A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorus and potassium.
When to use: There are two basic points of view on the subject. There is agreement among many clinicians that in the 3rd trimester frequent (2- 3 cups per day of tea or 1 – 2 cups per day of infusion) is beneficial to the uterine and pelvic muscles.
The more radical point of view is that drinking one cup of tea per day in the 1st trimester and 2 cups in the 2nd trimester and switching to the infusion in the 3rd trimester ensures a strong uterus, is good for you nutritionally and prevents miscarriage. Some say it is advised to not use it in the first trimester, particularly if you have a history of miscarriage. If a mother is prone to miscarriages she may feel safer avoiding raspberry until the third trimester. This is an herb with centuries of safe use behind it, there is usually little cause for concern, but check with your healthcare provider before using.
According to Susun Weed, author of “Wise Woman, Herbal for the Childbearing Year,” the benefits listed below for drinking a Raspberry leaf brew before and throughout pregnancy are as follows:
• Increasing fertility in both men and women. Red Raspberry leaf is an excellent fertility herb when combined with Red Clover.
• Preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage. Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus.
o Use raspberry leaf infusion to help facilitate placenta delivery. Chips of frozen raspberry leaf infusion sucked throughout labor help keep the uterus working strongly and smoothly.

• Easing of morning sickness. Many women attest to raspberry leaves’ gentle relief of nausea and stomach distress throughout pregnancy. Drink a cup or two of raspberry leaf tea or infusion each day. Sipping the infusion before getting up or sucking on ice cubes made from the infusion increases the strength of this remedy.

• Reducing pain during labor and after birth. By toning the muscles used during labor and birth, Raspberry leaf eliminates many of the reasons for a painful birth and prolonged recovery. It does not counter the pain of dilation of the cervix.

Red Raspberry Leaves do not start or encourage labor. It can help the contractions to be productive once true labor has begun because it strengthens the uterine and pelvic muscles but it is not an oxytonic herb (one that would induce labor). That being said, it’s important to talk with your midwife, obstetrician or herbalist before beginning drinking red raspberry leaf tea or taking a supplement. Some will recommend you wait until you are 36 weeks along before incorporating the tea into your health regime while others may encourage you to begin right away. Each situation and pregnancy is different so it’s best to get other’s opinions before beginning red raspberry leaf tea.

Tea recipe: To make a tea, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons of herb and steep for ten minutes. Strain. During the first two trimesters, drink 1 cup per day. During the final trimester, drink 2-3 cups per day.

Excerpts from Weed, Susun. “Wise Woman Herbal Childbearing Year.”
http://www.motherandchildhealth.com/Prenatal/raspberry.html

It’s Flu Season Again- Recommendations For Pregnancy

The Advisory Committe on Immuinization Practices (ACIP) recommends that pregnant and postpartum women recieve the seasonal influenza vaccine this year, even if they received the 2009 H1N1 or seasonal influenza vaccine last year. Lack of awareness of the benefits of vaccination and concerns about vaccine safety are common barriers to influenza vaccination of pregnant and postpartum women. To overcome these barriers, some key points have been provided in this document.

Influenza is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in their immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu as well as hospitalizations and even death. Pregnant woman with flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby including premature labor and delivery. Flu shots will protect pregnant women, their unborn babies and even protect the baby after birth.
The Flu Shot is the Best Protection Against Flu
Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu. Pregnant women should receive the inactivated vaccine but not receive the live attenuated vaccine (nasal spray). Postpatum women, even if they are breastfeeding, can receive either type of vaccine.

The Flu Vaccine is Safe for Pregnant Women Flu shots are a safe way to protect the mother and her unborn child from serious illness and complications of flu. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. It is very important for pregnant women to get the flu shot. The flu vaccine can be given in any trimester.

Pregnant women respresented 5% of the 2009 H1N1 influenza deaths in the U.S., while only about 1% of the population was pregnant. Severe illness in postpartum women was also documented. 2009 H1N1 is expected to continue to circulate this flu season and is included in the seasonal trivalent influenza vaccine this year.

It is best to get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your community. That’s because it can take two to three weeks for your body to develop antibodies to the flu virus after vaccination. If you get vaccinated in the fall, you will be protected by the time the flu season peaks, which is usually December through March. You will also be better prepared for the start of the flu season, which can begin as early as September or October.

One common myth about the flu vaccine is that it can actually cause the flu. Although the live vaccine does contain viruses, those in the flu shot have only inactivated pieces of the virus, and therefore, cannot cause infection.

Other Preventive Actions
In addition to getting the flu shot, pregnant women should take additional everyday preventive actions. Keep your distance from those who are ill; avoid crowds during peak flu season, if possible. That’s because flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly or pick up the germs from common objects such as tabletops or doorknobs. Frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. It is best to wash with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds. YOu can also use an alcohol-based gel containing ast least 60 percent alcohol. Eat right and get enough sleep. A poor diet and lack of sleep can lower your immune system and make you more prone to infections.

Be sure to get your Vitamin D!! Get some sun exposure. A few times a week, 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure on your face, arms, hands or back can help your skin create vitamin D naturally. The best dietary sources of vitamin D include liver, egg yolks, oily types of fish (salmon, tuna and sardines) and fortified milk. If you want to take a supplement, the US National Institutes of Health recommends the D3 form of Vitamin D which is much more effective than other types. D3 is a safe flu remedy and is available in 1,000 iu increments, over-the-counter, and at pharmacies and online retailers. Take 5,000 iu of D3 per day, for adults, when healthy to boost the immune system and prevent flu. Increase the D3 dose at the first sign of illness to 10,000 iu for adults. Drink water while taking D3. While unconfirmed, there have been rare reports of kidney stones as a result of vitamin D supplementation. This can be avoided with adequate fluid intake to maintain proper hydration.

Early Treatment is Important for Pregnant Women. If you get sick with flu-like symptoms call your healthcare provider right away. If needed, your provider will prescribe an antiviral medicine that treats the flu.
Having a fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects in an unborn child. Pregnant women who get a fever should treat their fever with Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent) and contact their provider as soon as possible.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Care
If you have any of these signs, call 911 right away:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• High fever that is not responding to Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent)
• Decreased or no movement of your baby

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the influenza vaccine.

Info provided from http://www.CDC.gov/flu
Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Source, Oct. 2010,. Volume 14, number 10

Water, Water Everywhere-How Much should you Drink?

Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.
Most individuals seem to know that drinking water is good for them, but maybe don’t know exactly why and have a hard time reaching their intake goals each day. We know all the excuses:

– I don’t like the taste
– I simply forget
– I can’t drink that much
– Who has time for that many bathroom breaks!

Well, we are going to inform you on why you should always have a water bottle nearby, how much you really need to drink and some tips to help you reach that goal.

Why You Should Be Downing That Water

Water is the most important nutrient for your body. From flushing out toxins, transporting nutrients throughout your body, and other vital actions, water necessary for every single system in your body needs water to function.

On average, water makes up 60% of our body weight. Even slight dehydration can prevent your body from carrying out normal bodily functions, draining your energy or even causing a headache.

5 reasons why you should have a glass of cool, refreshing H20:

1. Drop a few pounds: Remember just a moment ago when we said water is necessary for every function in your body. This includes breaking down fat for weight loss. Also, water is calorie free and is often an appetite suppressant. In fact, most people often confuse hunger for thirst.

2. Drink for your health: Drinking the right amount of water improves the health of your heart, and can even lower your risk of a heart attack. Also, increasing your water intake can improve digestive health by aiding in the breakdown of food. And, most of you probably already know that drinking water is one of the best things you can do for healthy skin – giving it a glow from the inside out.

3. Energy: The first all natural energy drink is water! Test it out next time you’re feeling a little sluggish by having a couple glasses of water.

4. Headache prevention: Know those dull headaches that come in the afternoon, especially after sitting at your desk all day? You’d be surprised how many of those headaches are caused by a slight dehydration.

5. Cleansing: Flush out all those unhealthy toxins!

Now that you’re sold on why to drink more water, let’s talk about how much – and how!
For years we’ve been told to follow the “8 by 8” rule – drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but for some people that just is not enough water. Here’s a new formula to use when calculating how much water you need. Simply divide your weight (in pounds) by two to give you the number of ounces of water you should strive to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs., strive to drink 80 ounces of water daily.

Dietary recommendations: The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

If you drink a lot of caffeine, exercise or your job requires a lot of physical activity, you may need to consume even more water to replenish your body.

Whoa, that’s a lot of water!

Need some help reaching your new water intake goal? Try these tips:

1. Get a reusable bottle and figure out how many times you must empty it through out the day to reach your goal.

2. Have a glass of water before (and with) every meal.

3. Keep a pitcher of water in your office, at your desk or in the fridge – this will also help track how much you’ve already had for the day.

4. Add lemon or lime slices, or mint leaves to give your water a light, refreshing taste. (Hint: the mint may need to soak in the water up to 12 hours to give it any flavor.)

5. Set a daily alarm on your cell phone to remind you of your water intake goal.

6. Go slow. If you rarely drink water and just the thought of your recommended intake makes your bladder a little uneasy, take a few days or even a week to work your way up to that magical number.

Even apart from the above approaches, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.

Factors that influence water needs
You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

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, thus increasing your fluid intake needs.

Illnesses or health conditions. Signs of illnesses, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea, cause your body to lose additional fluids. In these cases you should drink more water and may even need oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade or Powerade. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.

Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting 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 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day

Other Sources of Water
Although it’s a great idea to keep water within reach at all times, you don’t need to rely only on what you drink to satisfy your daily fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake, while the remaining 80 percent comes from water and beverages of all kinds.
For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are 90 percent to 100 percent water by weight. Beverages such as milk and juice also are composed mostly of water. Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages — such as coffee, tea or soda — can contribute, but these should not be a major portion of your daily total fluid intake. Water is one of your best bets because it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.

Staying safely hydratedIt’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you become thirsty, it’s most likely you are already dehydrated. Further, be aware that as you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst. Excessive thirst and increased urination can be signs of a more serious medical condition. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience either.

To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. Nearly every healthy adult can consider the following:
 Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
 Hydrate before, during and after exercise.
 Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings.
If you drink water from a bottle, thoroughly clean or replace that bottle often.

Though uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who consume an average American diet.

If you’re concerned about your fluid intake, check with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s best for you.

Posted by Living Well Today on June 17, 2009
Excerpts from Mayoclinic.com/health/water