Monday, October 23, 2017


Do we really need to drink 8 cups of water every day? Plus coffee, tea, milk, juice and soda? What about caffeine and alcohol? How much is good or bad? 


Water is actually needed to carry essential nutrients for the healthy working of the body and makes up 50-70% of the weight of the human body. Even teeth have a water content of 5%. Water is also responsible for functions including temperature regulation and the lubrication of joints.


The magic number is 8. Why must we drink 8 cups of water a day? What if we drink 7, or if we overindulge and drink 9? What are the harmful effects? If we are to drink eight glasses of water per day, plus other beverages, how much time will be spent going to the bathroom?

According to the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes, fluid intake comes from all beverages consumed, from water to drinks containing caffeine, soup, fruits, vegetables and even meat, and recommends 9 cups/day for women and 13 cups/day for men. When it comes to actual water and flavored water, intake is closer to 5 cups/day for women.

The Panel on Water and Electrolytes at the Institute of Medicine devised daily recommendations as follows:

Water - 20 to 50 oz
Unsweetened tea and coffee - 0 - 40 oz with less than 400 mg caffeine
Low-fat milk, skim milk, soy beverages - 0 - 16 oz
Noncalorically sweetened beverages (diet sodas) - 0 to 32 oz
100% fruit juices - 0 to 8 oz
Sodas and fruit drinks - 0 to 8 oz

My advice is to drink enough to prevent the onset of thirst - the first sign of dehydration. The second sign is dark colored urine with a strong odor, similar to your first urination in the morning. If this is the case, drink more fluids as dehydration leads to muscle weakness and fatigue.


What kind of water is the next question? Can we trust tap water? For that matter, can we trust bottled water? You’ll be pleased to know that any water is fine. Bottled water is not more healthful, more “natural,” or purer than tap water from most municipal systems. If you don’t like the chlorine taste of your water, use a filter. Chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water to prevent deadly illnesses like typhoid and cholera.


Fluid intake needs to be increased under the following circumstances:
1. In the elderly, the thirst mechanism is not very sensitive, so they purposefully need to increase their fluid intake beyond the feeling of pure thirst.
2. With vomiting or diarrhea, dehydration can occur. Small sips of liquid, as much as can be tolerated, are recommended during and after these bouts.
3. With heat exhaustion from hot weather.
4. With prolonged exercise or strenuous sports that may blunt the thirst response.


No! With fashionable coffee houses at every street corner, don’t miss out on any fun! Many a curious eye is turned when, as a dietitian, I order caffeinated coffee. 

According to a Norwegian study, up to five cups of coffee a day may reduce heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. However, these benefits are negated with more than five cups a day. 

This doesn't mean you have to force yourself to drink 5 cups of coffee a day. There are many foods and beverages that can help reduce diseases.

This means, if you're having 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day, that's okay. And I'm talking about 8 oz cups, not super-sizing 16 oz cups!

Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate. The recommended maximum daily intake is 450 mg caffeine per day. My recommendation is a maximum of three cups coffee, three cups tea, and three cans of diet pop per day. With the following checklist, you can calculate your caffeine intake:

Coffee (6 oz.) 
 - decaffeinated 2 
 - instant 60
- drip, brewed 105 
- espresso 100
- cappuccino 100 
Tea (6 oz.) 36 
 Chocolate Milk (8 oz.) 8 
Cola Drink (12 oz.) 45
Milk chocolate bar (2 oz) 20
Dark chocolate bar (2 oz) 37
Medications 60 - 200

It is not essential to have caffeine in the diet and moderate caffeine intake is not associated with any health risk. Unfortunately some of my clients drink ten 8 oz. cups of coffee per day which is certainly excessive.
A child's caffeine consumption should be closely monitored. Although caffeine is safe to consume in moderation, it may negatively affect a child's nutrition, replacing nutrient-dense foods such as milk. Restriction may be necessary for a hyperactive child as caffeine is a stimulant.
Pregnant women, and people with coronary heart disease or peptic ulcers may be advised by their health care provider to restrict or avoid consuming caffeine.

Many drugs will interact with caffeine. Consult with your health care provider or pharmacist.According to a 

This doesn't mean you have to force yourself to drink 5 cups of coffee a day. There are many foods and beverages that can help reduce diseases.

This means, if you're having 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day, that's okay. And I'm talking about 8 oz cups, not super-sizing 16 oz cups!


After a busy day, meeting friends for a drink is great fun and good for you, drinking too much is bad! According to the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, females can have up to 1 drink per day, men can have up to 2 drinks per day.

1 bottle (12 oz.) beer - 5% alcohol 135 - 150
1 bottle “light” beer - 4% alcohol 100
1 bottle “extra light” beer - 2% alcohol 60
1 glass wine (5 oz.), 11% alcohol 100
1 shot (1 1/2 oz.) liquor - rye, gin, rum or scotch 100
Gin and tonic (7 1/2 oz. cocktail) 170
Liqueurs (1 1/2 oz.) 185


Studies indicate that alcohol abuse causes approximately 10% of cancer deaths. We also know the distressing results of drinking and driving, and drinking and family violence. However, there are diet-related reasons to limit alcohol intake:


1. Alcohol is high in calories - alcohol supplies seven calories per gram and no other nutrients. 
2. Alcohol blocks the ability to burn fat for energy, resulting in 30% less energy coming from fat. Delays in burning fat in our bodies are not a good idea.
3. Watch alcohol quantity - an “extra light” beer contains 2% alcohol, that is, 3% less than regular beer. Switch from beer to “extra light” beer, but do not increase quantities.
4. Alcohol is usually accompanied by fat snacks - the food served with drinks often consists of ribs, chicken wings, nachos and chips - fat fixes!


Alcohol decreases willpower: “I used to find that I could eat healthy all day, but in the evening I blew my diet by drinking too much wine and then overeating. Now I drink sodas for most of the evening or alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I enjoy myself much more because I’m in control.” 

Drink water when you’re thirsty, and alcohol for the taste. This way you will enjoy your drinks more. 


When drinking alcohol, drink more water, especially before going to bed. Although alcohol makes you fall asleep quickly, you’ll wake up in the night feeling thirsty and restless. Cut back and sleep well.


Alcohol is expensive. If you’re on a budget, cut back on this beverage. Don’t make the excuse that fruits and vegetables are expensive this season, and then choose alcohol regularly. Get things into perspective.



The French have a low incidence of heart disease yet eat heart-attack producing saturated fats from cream, butter and beef, and they smoke. Why? Perhaps it’s because they eat small portions, maintain a healthy body weight and walk a lot. Or is it because they drink red wine?

If red wine is the answer, the amount of red wine consumed with meals should be one to two glasses per day. This doesn’t mean you should start drinking wine if you’re not a drinker, or increasing your red wine intake if you are.


“Please don’t take away my occasional glass of wine.” - a plea from Vanessa. She doesn’t consider herself a drinker, but likes to have one or two glasses of wine socially. She wanted to know if she does have wine, which foods should she eliminate.

I told Vanessa to keep track of her alcohol intake. If it is indeed only the amount that she remembers, then it’s fine. Drinking alcohol on occasion does not mean eliminating other foods. It is important to form habits that you can live with, not restrict yourself and decrease your quality of life,

1. Drink water when thirsty. 
2. Sip alcoholic drinks slowly. 
3. Dilute your drinks with club or diet soda. 
4. If you don’t feel like an alcoholic drink, have an orange or tomato juice, tonic water or club soda. 
5. Drink what you want to drink, not what is expected of you. 

6. Limit your alcohol intake to one or two servings and save money!