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The dog days of summer are upon us.  It has been hot and dry and boy oh boy so many wonderful tasty beverages to choose from to squelch that parched pallet.  With so many different choices, are you making the proper choices to keep you healthy?  Sport drinks, juice, flavored water, water with vitamins, soda, diet soda, beer, wine, mixed drink, oh what a list to choose from.

When you look at the above list did you see your go to fire extinguisher.  How many of those do you drink a week?  Ever stop and look at the label on the drinks you are buying?  Check for yourself, many beverages contain high amounts of sugar, or worse yet artificial sweeteners.  A sugar packet contains 4g of sugar.  A soft drink averages about 28g of sugar per serving.  That equals 7 sugar packets per can.  I know I would be horrified to watch any person open 7 sugar packets and eat them all at once.

In a society that consumes too much sugar, we have lead ourselves down a very slippery slope towards chronic disease. Chronic disease starts at an early age with the alteration of our physiology due to choices we make consciously or unconsciously about what we put in our bodies.  Chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, the list can go on and on.  Sugar is a very inflammatory molecule in our body.  Yes, we have to have sugars for brain function and for energy but if the sugar load becomes higher then the body needs at that moment, then the sugar molecules leads to inflammation, increasing a molecule called arachidonic acid.  Arachidonic acid levels in the body are a very good indicator of our levels of inflammation.  We have molecules to help balance those arachidonic acid levels and those are our good fat molecules, the Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s.  You can easily have your levels checked by a simple finger stick blood test called a blood spot fatty acid test.

Great you are already trying to avoid sugar. I hope you haven’t chosen to drink diet sodas or drinks containing artificial sweeteners in its place.  The most dangerous of all sweeteners is aspartame. What makes aspartame so dangerous is that it is made of 10% methanol (wood alcohol).  Methanol is a very toxic substance to the body.  The minimum adult lethal dose (even lower for children) is 2 teaspoons.  Methanol is a substance that can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, however these foods also contain an antidote, ethanol and pectin.  Aspartame does not contain either ethanol or pectin.  When you consume methanol without the ethanol and pectin it is converted into formaldehyde (embalming fluid) and formic acid (fire ant venom). The other two components of aspartame are phenylalanine and aspartic acid.  Both of which are natural occurring amino acids used as building blocks to make proteins.  When they are broken down and enter the blood stream individually they act as excitatory neurotransmitters, over-stimulating nerve and brain cells, causing cell death.

Still thirsty?  How about some more bad news – both sugar and aspartame are highly addictive and both increase your thirst.  This keeps you going back for more and still your thirst is not quenched, and even worse often with these drinks you are in a state of mild dehydration.  Water is the universal solvent.  I can still hear my chemistry teaching reminding of us this over and over again during lectures. A solvent means that it decreases the concentration of chemical concentrations, thus making the solution more diluted and less toxic.  In the toxic environment that we live in the more dilute we can make our own toxic environment the better off we are.  That’s right, the simple answer is always the best answer, we need to make sure we are getting pure water into our bodies each day.

How much water is enough water?  There are many theories on this subject; some say that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day.  I never did get a clarification whether it was 8, 8oz glasses, or 8, 16oz glasses.  There is a big difference between 64oz and 128oz.  Some experts claim that you should drink half of your body weight in ounces per day.  So if you weigh 150lbs you should drink 75oz per day.  Other theories talk about just making sure you are not thirsty or drinking enough water until your urine turns clear.  The last theory only works if you are not taking B vitamins regularly, otherwise the neon glow of the toilet bowl will throw you off.  A good rule of thumb is to drink a quart of water between breakfast and lunch, and another quart between lunch and dinner along with anything else you are drinking throughout the day.

So your still thirsty and don’t know what to drink?  Here are a few suggestions that I find helpful and use myself when I’m thirsty and don’t want plain water.  ¾ Seltzer and ¼ 100% fruit juice is a very refreshing fizzy drink and great for kicking the soda habit.  Add a slice of lemon to your water is also a nice treat and very healthy for your liver.  If you are exercising and worried about replacing your electrolytes, here is my homemade sports drink recipe. ¾ water, ¼ fruit juice (apple, grape, and cherry, are good choices, avoid citrus juices) and add a pinch of sea salt.  Keep hydrated, keep happy and keep healthy while enjoying our wonderful Montana summers.


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