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Our bodies are made up of 55 – 60% water….so why do we have to drink so much?  You may hear constant reminders to drink plenty of water and to keep your body hydrated.  And for a healthy individual, that is absolutely correct.  By the time you actually feel thirst, your body is already dehydrated.  However, it is difficult with busy schedules and many other daily concerns to remind ourselves to keep hydrated throughout the day, especially when we don’t actually have a feeling of thirst.  Here’s a closer look at the issue, and some easy ways you can meet those recommendations. Fluid needs vary for individuals based on physical activity level, heat, and even age.  Older adults run a higher risk of becoming dehydrated more quickly due to higher incidence of chronic diseases, multiple medication use, and a lower thirst level.  Individuals living in warmer climates such as the southern part of the country may require more water due to the amount of heat in the climate influencing the amount those individuals sweat.  The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that the Adequate Intake (AI) for total water requirements includes water from fluids and that which is contained in foods.1  However, when consuming other beverages such as fruit juice, there is the factor of extra calories being added into the diet that may not always be taken into account. The Dietary Reference Intakes, which are comprised of reference values for estimates of nutrient intakes that are used to assess and plan diets of healthy people, provide an AI value for fluid needs based on observed approximations by healthy people.  The AI for total water (which includes all water contained in foods, drinking water and beverages) recommended by the Institute of Medicine is 3.7 Liters/day (about 15 cups) for males and 2.7 Liters/day (about 11 cups) for females age 19 – 70.2    Keep in mind that not all beverages are created equal – despite the differing calorie content, some actually promote dehydration such as caffeinated beverages or alcohol.  Fruit juices and fruit drinks can cause an upset stomach in addition to contributing calories.3 In a recent study analyzing data from the National Cancer Institute’s 2007 Food Attitudes and Behaviors Survey, health-related behaviors and attitudes and characteristics of people who have low water intake were examined.4  It was found that 7% of adults did not drink water, and only 22% drink 8 or more cups per day.  It was also determined that low water intake (less than 4 cups per day) was associated with age, region of residence and unhealthful behaviors/attitudes such as high intake of sugar sweetened beverages, low fruit and vegetable intake, and no moderate exercise. Additionally, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2005 – 2007 has shown that the average US adult consumes about 4 cups of plain water per day.4  Plain water intake among adolescents has also been studied, and a 2010 survey showed that 54% of high school students nationwide drink water less than 3 times per day.5  Similar behaviors were associated with low water intake in this study in addition to weight status.  So other than preventing dehydration, why is water so important? Keeping proper fluid balance is critical to our body’s functioning.  We need to replace the water that we lose daily through sweating, urination and breathing.  If water loss becomes too great, it can affect mental functioning, vision, the body’s pH balance, temperature regulation, and electrolyte balance.  Water is used in processes throughout the body’s pathways and is a major component of our blood, which transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.6  That being said, there are simple ways you can ensure you are keeping well hydrated by using a few tips to help consume enough fluid throughout the day.   My favorite trick is to make what I like to call “spa water.”  I recommend getting a nice clear pitcher or water dispenser, and fill it each day with not only water, but fruit such as berries, lemon/limes or even mint leaves.  One of my favorites is adding cucumbers and mint to a pitcher of water for a nice flavor that makes drinking water more desirable. Keep a water bottle at your desk at work.  You would be surprised how often you pick up that water bottle and take a sip.  It will soon become habit to naturally reach for that bottle.  You could even add some lemons or limes in for flavor and have your “spa water” right at work. Sip on a non-caffeinated hot tea.  I find myself sipping on tea often throughout the day just to keep a little warm in the air conditioned office.  If you’re not someone who enjoys sipping cold beverages, tea is a great alternative. Try adding a flavor such as Crystal Light to your water.  Some people just find that more flavor and a little more sweetness is more palatable and makes staying hydrated easier.  I like the Crystal Light options because they are few calories, and they have a nice selection of flavors. You have your facts and you have some new tips to try.  Now it’s up to you to conquer the hydration challenge! ©Adrienne Hatch, MS, RD, LD/N References: U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.  7th Edition, Washington DC:  U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies.  Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes, total water and macronutrients.  Available at:  http://iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/RDA%20and%20AIs_Vitamin%20and%20Elements.pdf.  Accessed September 10, 2013. Cleveland Clinic.  Avoiding dehydration, proper hydration.  Available at:  http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/dehydration/hic_avoiding_dehydration.aspx.  Accessed September 10, 2013. Goodman AB, Blanck HM, Sherry B, Park S, Nebeling L, Yaroch AL.  Behaviors and attitudes associated with low drinking water intake among US adults, food attitudes and behaviors survey, 2007.  Preventing Chronic Disease 2013;10:120248. Park S, Blanck HM, Sherry B, Brener N, O’Toole T.  Factors associated with low water intake among US high school students – national youth physical activity and nutrition study, 2010.  Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2012;112(9):1421-1427. Duke University.  Importance of water in the diet.  Available at: http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/water/watdiet.html.  Accessed September 10, 2013.

Need another reason to confirm that a vegan diet can be a preventative potion for chronic disease?  How about the vegan diet reducing your risk of diabetes, a condition which affects about 25 million Americans?  Over the past fourteen years, there have been several studies/trials which have specifically looked at the relationship between veganism and diabetes (three conducted in the last four years) and even a popular book dedicated to the subject that hit shelves this year. The studies which explore this connection come from the “Adventist Health Study”, “Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)”, and the Czech Republic5.  The studies compared vegan diets to control diets or vegetarian diets.  In general, it was found that vegan diets can reduce the risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes by up to 60%, decrease HgA1C (glycated hemoglobin test),  increase insulin sensitivity, eliminate or reduce the need for diabetes medication, decrease cholesterol, and even help in weight loss5. The application of this information comes down to the foods a vegan diet does contain versus does not contain.  A diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lower-fat choices, can improve glycemic control.  One of the studies observed that the vegan group consumed 33% more fruits and vegetables than non-vegetarians.   Interestingly, the increased intake of fiber (especially above 50g daily4) and low-glycemic carbohydrates in the vegan diet groups caused fasting blood glucose numbers to go down2.  It is even suggested that following a vegan diet reduces cravings for sweets and fats in general.  Also, despite not being advised to limit calories, as well as adjusting for BMI in several of these studies, the vegan dieters lost weight and reduced their risk of Type 2 Diabetes5. The American Diabetes Association claims the following4: “A vegetarian diet is a healthy option, even if you have diabetes. Research supports that following this type of diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that carb and calorie restrictions were not necessary and still promoted weight loss and lowered participants' A1C.” “This diet also tends to cost less. Meat, poultry, and fish are usually the most expensive foods we eat.” “The vegan diet includes a variety of plant-based foods. Eating soy products and a mix of vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains provides plenty of protein and other important nutrients.” To further support this concept, the book, VB6, by Mark Bittman, takes a glance into the author’s venture in veganism when told by his physician that adopting a vegan diet was the last medical advice in preventing a slew of escalating diabetes and heart-related health problems1.  The author then committed to making daily vegan food choices until 6pm, yet allowing himself to enjoy non-vegetarian evenings1.  The results of his “flexitarian” diet were significant and improved all of his previous failing health markers. In conclusion, health conscious choices are paramount in disease prevention and treatment, and furthermore, good evidence supports that honing in on plant intake is a strong factor in controlling diabetes.  Incorporating more vegan (or possibly vegetarian) choices may be an effective tool in protecting us from Type 2 Diabetes and its complications. By Molly McBride, RD, LD References: Bittman, M. (2013) VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 To Lose Weight and Restore Your Health For Good. Clarkson Potter. Wilbert, C. (2008) “Vegan Diet Good for Type 2 Diabetes”.  WebMD. Retrieved 5 July 2013. http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/ Regina Castro, M. (2012) “Vegetarian diet: Can it help me control my diabetes?” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 5 July 2013.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes/ “Meal Planning for Vegetarian Diets”. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved 5 July 2013.  http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals Norris, J. (2013) “Type 2 Diabetes and the Vegan Diet”. Vegan Health. Retrieved 5 July 2013.  http://veganhealth.org/articles/diabetestwo    

Featured Recipes

Ingredients Part A 4 large frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 jar hot salsa 2-3 cloves garlic 1 Tbsp chili powder ½ packet taco seasoning Ingredients Part B 2 cups white or brown rice 1 can corn kernels, no salt added 1 can black beans, no salt added  Directions Set slow cooker on high. Add ingredients in part A. Cover and simmer for approximately 5 hours. When chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165*F and can break apart easily, use two forks to shred. Drain and rinse corn and black beans; add to slow cooker. Replace cover and simmer while preparing rice or similar grain. If extra liquid is present, simmer uncovered. Pour spicy chicken mixture over rice & enjoy! By: Amanda E Kruse  RD, CD   Photo Credit: http://realmomkitchen.com/1344/easy-mango-chicken-over-coconut-rice/

Ingredients ½ tube crescent rolls or ¼ tube flaky biscuits 4 eggs 1 cup cheese Optional: Peppers, onions, tomatoes, and/or mushrooms Directions -        Preheat oven to 350*F. -        Spray ramekins with non-stick spray. -        Spread one crescent roll dough triangle or ½ flaky biscuit over bottom and side of each ramekin; Bake until dough starts to brown. -        On stovetop, scramble eggs; add 1/3 of the cheese. If adding veggies, sauté and add into scrambled eggs with cheese. -        Distribute eggs evenly between ramekins, sprinkle with remaining cheese. -        Spread one crescent roll dough triangle or ½ flaky biscuit over top of each ramekin. -        Bake until biscuits are golden brown and eggs bakes have reached an internal temperature of 155*F. By: Amanda E Kruse  RD, CD    

Did you know that September is National Breakfast Month?  Eating breakfast daily can help you think more clearly and prevent weight gain -- so eat up! Category: Breakfast Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cook time: 50 minutes Servings: 8 Ingredients: 5 large eggs ½ box frozen spinach ¼ cup 1% milk ½ cup Daisy Brand Low Fat cottage cheese 1 small chopped onion ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese Salt and pepper to taste 1 prepared pie crust Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Defrost spinach and squeeze out excess liquid. Combine eggs, spinach, milk, cottage cheese, onion, shredded cheese, and salt/pepper in mixing bowl and stir until well blended.  Pour into prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. By Meghan Windham, MPH, RD, LD

These muffins scream Fall to me – nutty and sweet, with a hint of spice. I make a whole batch, and then wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in the freezer in a zip top bag. They make a great breakfast when you’re running out the door or a portable snack when refrigeration is not an option. My fiancé spends hours hunting on the weekends in the Fall and tosses a few of these muffins in his pack to snack on while he’s roaming the woods! Yield: 1 loaf, 3 mini loaves or 12 muffins Ingredients: 1 egg 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2/3 cup sugar 1 cup grated zucchini* 1 teaspoons vanilla extract 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon allspice 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup chopped pecans 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin pan or 1 loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans In a large bowl, beat the egg by hand until well mixed. Mix in the oil and sugar, then the zucchini and vanilla. Add flours, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and salt, plus the pecans and dried cranberries. Mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. The batter will have lumps! Pour the batter into the prepared pans; wipe the edges to remove any excess batter and place in the oven. The loaf will need about 60 minutes, mini loaves about 30 minutes and the muffins about 20 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center – if it comes out clean, they’re ready to come out! *Where I live, zucchini is wonderful in the summer, but I crave these muffins in the Fall because of their spiced flavor and sweet cranberries. To get the best of both worlds, I buy lots of zucchini from the farmer’s market during the summer and then shred and freeze it in one cup portions, perfect for baking these muffins. Remove the frozen, shredded zucchini from the bag and let it defrost in a colander. You can run them under cool water to speed up the process. Squeeze out any of the liquid that accumulates before adding the zucchini to the batter.  By Erica Steinhart, RD Photo courtesy of www.seaweedandsassafrass.com via www.healthyaperture.com/Posts for Syndication

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