I had not planned to write another Provision on water, but the replies and requests of the past week provoked me to greater reflection. There’s obviously more work to do and so I’ve written this Provision in Q&A format. The bottom line is that water benefits us on many levels, including the physical, mental, and spiritual. From the waters of the womb to the decomposition of the grave, water makes life possible. The better we connect with and treat water, the better life will be • so I hope you will join me for a few more reflections on the subject.
Last week’s Provision on the importance of drinking ample amounts of clean, fresh water on a daily basis prompted so many reader replies and requests that I’ve decided to reply to them publicly for this week’s Provision. Given the importance of proper hydration to optimal wellness, I’m happy to take the time.
Question: To say that the human body is more than 50% water and that, therefore, we should drink only water begs an obvious question. Everything that we drink and eat is more than 50% water, so why limit our fluid choices to water alone? What makes water better than other drinks?
Answer: It is true that most drinks and foods are more than 50% water, enabling those who drink a lot of other beverages or eat a lot of soup, for example, to reduce their water consumption. But this does not elevate other beverages above water from the viewpoint of health and wellness. Other beverages add other things, including calories and often artificial carbonation, caffeine, sweeteners, colors, or alcohol. These additives should be kept to a minimum. Clean, fresh water helps to suppress the appetite and cleanse the body. Drink at least two quarts (1.9 liters) per day.
Question: I enjoyed your article on water rights and read it with keen interest. I’ve been trying to consume more water in my everyday life and the article substantiates my need to do just that. I absolutely agree that drinking something sweet triggers hunger in the brain, and even if the beverage is no or low calorie • it will have an indirect effect on overall consumption. I loved how you eluded to the history of water availability and how that’s changed over time. I’m wondering if you have any information on the risks of bottled water with regards to the plastic contaminants? I’ve read that it may be dangerous. Any thoughts? Thanks.
Answer: All plastic bottles have the potential to leach contamination into their contents, so if you want to rule that out completely, you should stay with glass or stainless steel. A good source for stainless steel water bottles is www.kleankanteen.com.
For those who choose to stay with plastic bottles, avoid those bottles classified as Types #3 (polyvinyl chloride products), #6 (Styrofoam), and #7 (polycarbonate products) by the American Plastics Council (look for the number in the small triangle on the bottom of the bottles). These bottles leach more dangerous chemicals into their contents than bottles made from plastics classified as Types #1, #2, #4, or #5. It’s especially important for pregnant women and infants using baby bottles to avoid plastic Type #7, since this plastic can leach a hormone disrupter known as Bisphenol A (or BPA).
Type #1 is the plastic used for the ubiquitous, clear, thin water bottle sold by brand names around the globe. These bottles are fine at point of purchase but should not be washed and reused. Washing these bottles with detergents or water hot enough to kill bacteria (such as in the dishwasher), breaks down the plastic making it more of a leach hazard. Failing to use detergents or very hot water will allow bacteria to multiply over time. Type #1 bottles are meant to be recycled after a single use.
Types #2, #4, and #5 bottles are safer for repeated washings, even with strong detergents and very hot water. Like reading the ingredient labels on processed foods, reading the resin identification codes on the bottom of plastic bottles is a good habit to develop.
Question: After admonishing us to drink nothing but “clean, fresh water,” you go on to mention green tea, yerba mate, rooibos, and “dilute alcohol.” What happened to my Cup o’ Joe in the morning?! I love my coffee.
Answer: Sorry about that! My inclusion of green tea, yerba mate, and rooibos was an attempt to include some calorie-free beverages for the sake of variety. Clean, fresh water is still number one. Rooibos tea • the “tea” that comes from the South African red bush • has no caffeine, no calories, little tannic acid, and plenty of antioxidants. That makes it, along with other herbal teas, a perfect complement to clean, fresh water. Try it on ice for a great summer cooler.
Green tea and yerba mate contain caffeine and mateine respectively, although in significantly lower amounts than coffee. Caffeine is a diuretic that can increase urine production and thereby work against hydration. To eliminate the caffeine or mateine, steep for 30-seconds and then pour off the water before steeping again. Decaffeinating in this way is a safe water process with personalized quality control. If you choose to drink the caffeine, keep your total for the day to under 300 mg • which amounts to about 6 cups of green tea or yerba mate.
Coffee can give you that much caffeine in a single cup, depending upon brewing method and strength, which is why I stopped drinking coffee long ago. I had succumbed to caffeine’s mildly addictive qualities and I ended up drinking way too many cups per day. That’s a problem. For those who can avoid creeping up on their coffee consumption, recent research suggests that a cup or two per day will do you no harm and may even be protective against certain maladies (such as type 2 diabetes, gall stones, colon cancer, liver disease, and Parkinson’s disease). So enjoy, if you like. Just no remember to be careful about what you put in your coffee or tea. Drink no calories is still the rule.
That relates to why it’s best to keep dilute alcohol to a minimum. The health benefits of drinking alcohol are not sufficient to start drinking for that reason alone. For those who enjoy alcohol, however, one or two drinks per day can be consumed without ill effect as long as they do not lead to weight gain. I limit my consumption of alcohol to social occasions.
Question: Thank you for all your magnificent provisions. What do you think about replacing sports drinks with a mix of water, baking soda and lemon? How much baking soda per liter? Thanks again for your job.
Answer: That looks like the formula for a cleaning solution or a bottle rocket rather than a sports drink! Seriously, it lacks at least one important ingredient: potassium. It also lacks energy, which is important for endurance exercises lasting longer than an hour. Having never tried this formula myself, I am not able to comment on the ratios from personal experience. Most of the recipes I have found include no more than 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per liter. To get some potassium, you may want to add 1/2 cup of orange juice or mashed banana. To add energy, you may want to include some honey or Agave syrup.
My own preference is to mix a high energy electrolyte drink powder with egg white protein powder in a 4:1 ratio. The high energy electrolyte drink powder that I use is HEED by Hammer Nutrition. It contains complex carbohydrates (primarily maltodextrin and xylitol), a complete electrolyte profile (including sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and chromium), as well as supplemental nutrients (three amino acids, Vitamin B6, and stevia). I prefer organic egg white protein, rather than whey or soy, because of its digestibility and complete amino acid profile (including cysteine) Click. Recent studies have documented the value of consuming carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio for endurance exercises lasting longer than two hours Click.
Question: Your last Provision was awesome! You couldn’t have said it any better. All that talk about bottled water being polluted, the facts about the artificial sweeteners, and the fact that liquid calories don’t register but equal fat accumulation. Good stuff. Water is my drink of choice also. I drink 1 to 1 1/2 gallons a day, and other than my 2 daily shots of Goji juice, I drink no other beverage.
I love the fact that you mention Stevia too. I am a huge proponent of it, and not just in powder form. I, along with two close friends, have an organic garden. We have a Stevia plant in it. It is fantastic. I take 4 or 5 leaves, chop them up, and put them in my salads. You would be shocked as to what kind of flavor this adds. There are also a couple of other good, natural sugar substitutes that don’t cause a blood sugar spike. They are Agave, Lo Han, and Xylitol. Have you heard of any of these?
Answer: First, thanks for letting me know about growing your own Stevia. I have a small, organic herb garden and it has one spot left for another cultivar. I know what’s going there now! As for the other natural sugar substitutes, I have tried Agave and Xylitol, but not Lo Han. Agave syrup, which looks like honey and comes from succulent cacti by the same name, is not low calorie, but is absorbed more slowly by the body than honey or other sugars. Xylitol and Lo Han, like Stevia, are both low-calorie sweeteners derived from natural sources. Given that I hardly use sweeteners at all, except for an occasional of homemade cranberry juice from organic concentrate, I will probably just stay with Stevia.
Question: What peer reviewed journals do you base your recommendations on?
Answer: I do not start my research with peer reviewed journals, although I do end up there, at least on occasion. I review the following health and wellness newsletters and magazines on a regular basis (they appear in alphabetical order): Consumer Reports On Health by Consumers Union, Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Heart Letter, Health Magazine, Nutrition Action Health Letter by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Peak Running Performance, Runner’s World Magazine, Self Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil, Spirituality & Health Magazine, and the Washington Post Health Section.
When I find a topic that interests me, I do additional research on line • often pursuing the peer reviewed references that appear in the more popular sources cited above. The problem with many peer reviewed journal sites is that they carry a pretty hefty price tag. The Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, is free for physicians but costs the general public $125 US per year for an on-line only subscription. Often, however, peer reviewed articles circulate in the public domain, and I use Google Scholar to find many of those.
Beyond journal articles, newsletters, and magazines, I also base my recommendations on books and experience. The books are listed in LifeTrek Provisions, so that you can keep an eye on what I am reading. My experience includes significant weight loss back in 1998, with successful maintenance ever since. I also teach on the faculty Wellcoaches, the leader in training health, fitness, and wellness coaches and delivery of wellness coaching services to physicians, consumers, corporations, and health plans. It’s a rich collaboration that helps to keep me in the know.
Comment: Thanks for your Provision on water rights. Don’t forget • water is sacramental!
Reply: Thanks for the reminder. If “sacramental” means that water has the power to connect us with the sacred, then I can hardly imagine anyone arguing the point. Who has not been refreshed by drinking water, buoyed up by swimming in water, or inspired by seeing a large body of water, at least on occasion. Because of its source connection to all life, water has unique, spiritual, and energetic qualities. No wonder so many religions include water rituals as part of their traditions!
Although his research is often ridiculed, it would not surprise me that water has at least some of the qualities ascribed to it by the Japanese author, Masaru Emoto. His work involves taking pictures of frozen ice crystals from water that has been treated with a variety of chemical and intentional processes. Emoto’s conclusion is that clean, natural water surrounded by love and gratitude makes the most beautiful crystals. Things work the same way, he argues, when it comes to human beings. The water in us seeks and responds to love and gratitude, connecting us with the cosmos, the marvels of nature, and life itself in energetically positive ways.
That sure sounds sacramental to me. May we all find the clean, fresh water for life!
Coaching Inquiries: What place do love and gratitude have in your life? How could consuming more and better water benefit you both physically and spiritually? Where are there bodies of water, or streams of moving water, that you could look at, get into, and / or otherwise connect with? Who could become your water body for life?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob..
This week’s Reader Replies are included in this Provision. Thanks for a lively and engaging conversation. Please keep those cards and letters coming!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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