Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Let them drink pop: Water doesn’t = weight loss

Water-Soda-Poster

Big News: “Water not a ‘magic bullet’ for weight loss“. While I don’t dispute any of the information presented in the article, I do take issue with a major fact that is not presented in the article. 

The article states that the vast majority of research has shown no increase in weight loss for those who consume more water versus those who do not. Drinking water does not increase caloric burn. The article also dismisses the pervasive myth that beverages such as coffee do not contribute to overall hydration – YAY! All true. 

The article then quotes the RD as saying, “if you don’t like water it’s OK.” The idea is that you can obtain your hydration from other beverages (and foods). While absolutely true from a hydration standpoint, I think that this statement does a disservice to those who are attempting to lose weight. While I’m sure it was not her intent, I think that this could easily be interpreted to mean that it’s fine to choose beverages such as juice, pop, and coffee with sugar and cream rather than a glass of water. Yes, these will all hydrate you, however, they will also add non-satiating calories to your diet. If you drink just one 8 oz glass of orange juice, one 12 oz can of Coke, and one medium double-double (sorry, non-Canadian readers) a day you’ll be adding 458 calories to your daily intake. Compare that to zero calories from three glasses of water. 

Obviously weight loss is not as simple as replacing caloric beverages with water (or non-caloric beverages) but that can certainly be a part of it. To suggest that all beverages are equal is untrue and misleading. Water doesn’t boost your calorie burn but it can minimize your overall caloric consumption if you replace caloric beverages with it. 


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Can a glass of water really prevent a heart attack?

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I’m so glad that I got a facebook page. If only because it’s quickly becoming a better source for blog fodder than Dr Oz. Okay, okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. Regardless, there’s a wealth of health misinformation floating around around on there.

Take this post, for example. It purports to be information coming from the Mayo Clinic and tells people that they can reduce the risk of heart attack by drinking a glass of water just before going to bed for the night. Too good to be true? You bet! Now, most of us could probably stand to consume more water on a regular basis so I really don’t want to discourage you (no not you, I know that you get plenty!) from drinking water. However, I don’t like people thinking that a glass of water before bed is the ultimate in heart attack prevention.

There is no information on the Mayo Clinic website advising people to drink water before bedtime to prevent a heart attack. Moreover, there is no scientific research to support this claim.

The article also makes three additional claims about the optimal times to consume water in order to help certain health conditions:

 2 glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs
1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal – helps digestion
1 glass of water before taking a bath – helps lower blood pressure
1 glass of water before going to bed – avoids stroke or heart attack

This is all a lot of hooey. Want to know the optimal times to drink water: when you’re thirsty, when you’ve been sweating a considerable amount, and when you’re sleepy and want to be alert.

Want to “activate internal organs”? Avoid death or becoming a zombie. You’re good to go! Want to help digestion? Avoid consuming extremely large meals. Want to lower blood pressure? Avoid stroke or heart attack? Get plenty of exercise, avoid sitting for prolonged periods, consume a healthy, primarily plant-based diet.

The post goes on to mention additional advice about aspirin use for heart attacks. It references a Dr. Virend Somers at the Mayo Clinic. Google his name and the first thing that comes up is this post on the Mayo Clinic website:

We have been informed of a recently circulated email regarding the use of aspirin, which included mention of Dr. Virend Somers and of Mayo Clinic. Neither Dr. Somers nor Mayo Clinic contributed to this email, which contains some information that is inaccurate and potentially harmful. We recommend that you speak with your physician if you have specific questions.

This was posted back in 2010! Clearly this misinformation has been making the rounds for some time. I would like to echo the Mayo Clinic’s advice: if you are concerned about heart disease risk, or any other medical condition, go see your doctor. Definitely don’t accept unsolicited advice from facebook.


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Drink up: Water myths

I think we’ve all heard by now that the previously prescribed 8 glasses of water a day is a myth. But other myths about water persist. One such myth is that we shouldn’t drink “too much” water. What exactly “too much” is, I’m not sure. In my mind, the only way you’re really drinking too much water is if you end-up with hyponatremia. Unless you’re an athlete exercising under conditions where you’re not sweating much but you’re consuming lots of water, this would take quite a feat of effort to induce through water consumption. I’m confident that the vast majority of people could quite safely consume considerably more water during the run of a day.

Of course, precise recommendations for water consumption are difficult to provide. On average, men should consume about 3 litres of fluid per day, women about 2.2. However, we get fluid from many beverages and foods than water. Which brings me to another myth: coffee and tea are dehydrating. Coffee and tea both count toward your fluid intake for the day.

I suggest keeping a reusable water bottle with you all day and drinking regularly; especially when thirsty or when sleepy. The majority of your fluid should be consumed in the form of water.

One final myth surrounds the consumption of water and meals. Many people drink a glass of water to fill them up before they eat if they’re trying to lose weight. We often mistake thirst for hunger so it’s a good idea to have a glass of water about 20 minutes before eating to ensure you’re not trying to eat away your thirst. Of course, if you need to gain weight (or if you’re a growing child), it’s best to keep food and fluids separate to ensure maximum food consumption. Others say not to drink water with meals because it will impair digestion. This appears to be another myth. Of course, everyone is different, and if you don’t like to drink water with a meal that’s perfectly fine. However, if you do enjoy a glass of water with your meal, go for it, you can probably use the hydration.


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Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?

Myth 22: Everyone needs to drink eight glasses of water a day.
What Dietitians of Canada says:
“There is no truth to the claim that everyone needs exactly eight cups of water a day. Water is important for good health and it is your best choice to satisfy thirst, but other liquids are also hydrating. The amount of water you need to hydrate your body varies daily and depends on factors like your gender, physical size and how active you are, as well as environmental factors like heat and humidity. To help stay hydrated, drink plain water (tap or bottled) plus other beverages like milk, coffee or tea throughout the day. And remember to drink more in hot weather and when you are very active.”
What I say:
AMEN! (minus the bottled water – protect the environment! and minus the milk – they just gotta support the dairy farmers where ever they can)


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Liven up your water

I often hear people comment on their disdain for water as a beverage. Personally, it’s my go-to beverage, but even I get a little bored of it at times. If you want to liven it up just infuse it with another flavour. Try adding slices of citrus fruit like lemon, lime, or orange. Pop in a sprig of mint or sliced cucumber. Use your imagination. You can add pretty much any fruit you’d like for a flavour burst without any artificial flavours or dyes, very little sugar or calories. Delicious hydration.