For most people yes. This blog is less than a 2 minute read and discusses how much and what types of fluid to consume each day.
Most of us have heard that the body has a high fluid content (about 60% of your total weight is fluid) and hence needs fluid to work effectively. Being well hydrated is particularly important for optimal blood pressure, heart rate and brain function. Signs of inadequate fluid intake or dehydration include dark urine, headaches, poor concentration and confusion. We need to take in fluid every day as it is naturally lost in urine, bowel motions, breathing and sweat.
How much fluid should I drink each day?
It depends on your weight and activity levels. We now know that to maintain body function it's probably less than the typical 6-8 glasses (1.5-2L) recommended per day. However, in hot climates and for those who are active this is probably a good starting point. We tend to get about 20% of our fluid from our foods. However, for those eating a lot of processed foods and not enough of the recommended fruit and vegetable intakes then I would recommend a higher intake of fluids (around the 1.8-2L/day depending on size and activity).
So what counts as fluid?
Anything that is fluid at room temperature (other than alcohol) can be counted as part of your fluid intake. Water is best but tea and coffee and other drinks like juice also count as fluid (they may also be contributing a lot of sugar so not as good for your teeth or waist line). Fruit, vegetables, dairy, soups and stews also significantly contribute to fluid intake (range from 50-90% content as fluid).
I thought coffee was a diuretic so why does it count towards my fluid intake?
A diuretic increases the amount of urine produced by the body. Water or any drink consumed in large amounts is a diuretic. The body adjusts to the caffeine contained in coffee (and some teas) after about 4 to 5 days. Therefore if you drink coffee regularly (e.g. 1-3 cups every day) it will contribute to your fluid intake (even more will count to your fluid intake but generally I recommend people having no more than 2-3 "real" coffees a day). If you don't drink coffee and then suddenly have a couple of coffees at once then this may have a diuretic effect.
So if I can count coffee as part of my fluid intake, what about alcohol?
No, alcohol does not count as part of your fluid intake. Alcohol is a true diuretic that your body cannot adjust to so it does have a dehydrating effect (hence the advice to have 1 or 2 non-alcoholic drinks for every one containing alcohol).
Take home message - is to consume a diet high in unprocessed foods (like vegetables and fruits), regularly consume fluid (water is best, but your couple of cups of tea and coffee also count- alcohol definitely does not count) and have more fluid in summer and when you are active. Aim for the equivalent of 6 cups a day or more so that you need to urinate every 2 or so hours and it is light yellow in colour.
For further information check out some of the research articles from A/Prof Ben Desbrow and his team
It’s always interesting when a clinician or researcher sees their area of expertise through a different lens. How powerful are the stories of the doctor who becomes the patient?
Last year two close friends were diagnosed with cancer. I saw our health care system through their eyes and their lived experiences. Luckily most of it was positive and we are fortunate in Australia to have a world standard (?or above?) health care system. Despite this, my friends had periods of struggle and sought out additional areas of support.
When you receive the traumatic shock of a cancer diagnosis you are often motivated to do all you can. You go on the web, friends tell you about the latest article or product claiming to cure cancer (ever notice how these products claim to cure EVERYTHING - from impotence to baldness and gut problems too!!). That’s where the rabbit hole begins.
I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have been impacted by cancer. Many speak about the shell shock that is the diagnosis. Then the whirlwind of treatment where the focus is often just to get through. Most agreed that the doctors and nurses were amazing. Some said that while they valued the doctor’s expertise they wanted to be spoken to as a person not a diagnosis (a good reminder for all of us clinicians!!). One spoke of her experience as being labelled metastatic, “I just feel as if they a waiting for me to die and there’s nothing else they can do. I’m not a high priority for them anymore.”
Another common topic was the conflicting information that people with cancer may receive from different health professionals. This is particularly common in my area of expertise, nutrition. Our international survey that was presented at the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) conference also found that patients find it confusing and frustrating when they receive conflicting recommendations from health care professionals. Health care professionals also wanted guidelines and common resources as a basis of their advice.
The experiences of my friends last year, combined with my discovery of the effectiveness of coaching (topic of another blog) have led me to go part-time in my university professor position to offer online support to people impacted by cancer. I hope to plug the gaps in the existing (hopefully excellent medical care) and provide additional support where required. This appears to be around diagnosis and after treatment finishes where people are looking to get their body and their life back together again. I’m mainly providing online support as people mention they don’t want to attend another appointment and I believe this the way of the future. As well as my area of expertise (nutrition), I include coaching in the areas of mindset and movement as I believe these 3 areas provide a powerful matrix for supportive care in people living with cancer.
My passion is to support, understand and find out as much as we can about the best supportive practices for people impacted by cancer. I hope that people with cancer have the best treatment outcomes and can be emotionally confident to enjoy life. My hate is selling false hope. I’m all for being open minded, combining modalities for the best treatment outcomes and working with the individual to achieve their goals. However, I don’t like people making money from selling products claiming to cure cancer (especially when they have no medical or scientific background themselves).
If you or a loved one is impacted by cancer please join my free Facebook support group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2322148281336186/ I also offer one on one wellness coaching and an online program called The Emotional Confidence Cancer Coaching program. I couldn’t provide as much support as I would have liked to my friends last year but with the wellness coaching work I now can. I appreciate your support in spreading the message to those who may benefit from this. I hope my legacy will demonstrate my commitment to striving for the best supportive care for our loved ones with cancer. If you have the passion and an idea that can improve things you owe it to yourself and those who may benefit to give it a go no matter how crazy, hard or risky!
For more information visit www.lincnutrition.com.au
Liz can be contacted on ProfLiz@lincnutrition.com.au
What is the point of reaching a ripe old age if you aren't healthy and don't have a good quality of life? I want to age with vitality and I'm so inspired by the over 70s and beyond who are focusing on their health and have made it part of their lifestyle. A prime example is my mother-in-law who took up Parkrun at the age of 68 years and hasn’t looked back. My own mother who is about to turn 80, looks to be in her 60's and is still active. Yet, I'm sure we all know someone in their 50's who appears older than their years. Some is genetics and luck of the draw but there are definitely things that we can incorporate into our lifestyle to increase the chance of ageing with vitality.
As a wellness coach and dietitian, I recommend getting a good foundation of mindset, nutrition and movement. I believe if you get the basics right and work on them consistently then they become habits and it is easier to sustain. Let's go through these 3 key areas in more detail.
Mindset - can be described as one's attitude and thought processes and can be a powerful tool for stress reduction and motivation. To maximise a growth mindset start with 5 minutes of meditation each day. There are many wonderful Aps out there. I like Head Space and Calm. Deep breathing can also be very valuable and can take the edge off stress and anger. A simple breathing exercise is to breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and then exhale for 8 counts. Repeat this 3-5 times as necessary. Journaling and a gratitude diary can also be beneficial. I personally find handwriting (even though my doctor writing is messy and hard to read back!) more therapeutic than typing out my thoughts. Do want is most powerful for you.
One of the simplest but most beneficial things I've done for myself and introduced to my workplace was encouraging a proper lunch break. This had to be for at least 15 minutes, where you went outside, talked (not about work) and enjoyed some food. In some work environments this might not be novel but in my high paced setting it was typical to work at your desk and either keep working through lunch or eat something over your computer. The increased productivity in the afternoon more than made up for the 15 minutes (ideally 30 minutes) taken out for lunch. Take breaks, enjoy them, switch off, do some meditation or get in some movement.
Do you know someone who hasn't exercised in years, starts a plan and then injures themselves in the first week? The key is to start slow, build up and be consistent. If you haven't exercised in 10 years then starting with a 5 km run is probably not the best idea. Instead start with a 15 min walk and then build up by 5 mins every few days until you have reached a time that is doable for you most days. It might be 30 mins or it could be an hour. If you can't find a 30 minute block a day to exercise (but remember everyone only has 24 hours a day and some of the busiest people in the world prioritise and block out time for exercise) then breaking it up into 5 and 10 minute blocks throughout the day is still useful. Having one of these activities outside (not within peak UV times but morning and afternoon is best) to meet vitamin D requirements helps keep your muscles, bones and immune system strong. Incorporate movement into your everyday activities. Put on music and dance while you are tidying up, always take the stairs, take a walk to go to the toilets i.e. don't always use the closest ones) or get a dog (having to take the dog for a walk or two each day is a great incentive!)
In a world where we have more safe and abundant food than ever before, nutrition is also more confusing. My advice is don't listen to the influencers but do listen to the health experts and researchers and find what works for you. The truth is most "diets" whether they are low carbohydrate, high protein or high carbohydrate low fat etc. work for most people as long as they can stick to them. This might be life long but in most cases if it is a restrictive diet than it can usually only be maintained in the short term. So pick a style of eating you enjoy, focus on fresh unprocessed foods like vegetables, legumes, fruits, wholegrain cereals. Focus on quality rather than quantity. Including nuts and seeds and fish (especially salmon, mackerel, sardines) 2 to 3 times a week. Good quality protein like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds or soy and legumes can be included for at least two meals each day to meet protein requirements for tissue repair and a healthy immune system. Food is more than just nutrition, its social and an important part of our lifestyles. Therefore I also believe in the 80:20 rule where you are consistent with a healthy diet most of the time but if you occasionally want to have an extra glass of wine or a slice of birthday cake then you can without feeling guilty. The key here is occasionally. Unfortunately in our current lifestyle it is very easy to turn "occasionally" into "regularly or everyday".
On the topic of alcohol, while some studies have found that the guidelines of up to 2 standard drinks a day (with no more than 4 serves in one occasion) can be beneficial for heart disease there appears no safe level in terms of increasing the risk of certain cancers like breast and head and neck cancer. Remember the standard serve (e.g. 375ml mid-strength beer or 100ml wine) is much less than we often think and a typical wine glass may actually hold 1.5 or even 2 standard serves. As a rule of thumb I would always have 2 non-alcoholic drinks to one alcohol-containing drink. There are some great non-alcoholic alternatives so I might write about those in another blog.
So now you are motivated to incorporate some of these health tips. How are you going to go about it? An accountability partner can be very useful to help keep you motivated, identify any blind-spots and keep you accountable. This can be a friend or trained health professional and wellness coach. Start with something small today, continue to add in healthy activities and be consistent. Invest in your health today so you can age with vitality! Comment below and let me know what tips work for you and what areas you would like more advice on.
Professor Liz Isenring is a wellness coach and dietitian specialising in personal transformation using mindset, nutrition and movement. For more information contact Liz on ProfLiz@lincnutrition.com.au or www.lincnutrition.com.au