If you think you’re doing your body a favor by drinking a diet soda rather than its sugar-loaded version, think again.
It turns out artificially sweetened soft drinks may be just as lethal as the sugar-sweetened variety. A September 2019 study examined over 450,000 people from ten European countries. It turns out that while sugary soft drinks have long been associated with greater risk of death, so are artificially sweetened soft drinks.
So, if you’re going to hydrate, there’s one sure bet: make it water.
Why Drink Water?
We are water. Literally. That’s because the body is made up of about 60 percent water. And keeping a balance of body fluids is vital as it makes our “engine” run properly and efficiently. Yet the majority of us—75 percent of Americans–don’t drink enough water.
Everything in our body runs on water. Hydration is important for tissues, and also helps cushion and brain and spinal cord. It works to maintain proper body temperature and blood pressure, and transports nutrients.
The health benefits of water are numerous. Here are a few of the specific benefits of drinking water.
While water is not a magic weight loss tool, it can help fill you up as well as increase your metabolism. Certainly, drinking water instead of caloric beverages can be helpful. Drinking a glass of water a half hour before meals, “preloading” in a sense, can help you feel more full.
What’s more, the brain’s thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. That midnight snack you’re craving might actually be a midnight sip. If you feel like raiding the fridge or the pantry, try the faucet instead and see if your urge to eat disappears.
Fatigue is a sign of dehydration. In fact, it turns out that people who seek treatment for fatigue are often dehydrated. The reverse may be true as well. Short on sleep? That can actually make you more than tired—it can also dehydrate you, according to a 2019 study published in Sleep. So, drinking water may help your fatigue, and getting enough sleep may help prevent dehydration.
Joints are composed of cartilage, which is made up of about 80 percent water. Drinking water helps that cartilage to do its job. In fact, long-term dehydration can lead to joint pain, due to the reduction in the joints’ ability to absorb shock.
Helps the bowels
Water helps soften stools and stimulate bowel movements. In fact, constipation is the result of dehydration because with insufficient fluids, the colon instead extracts the water from the stools. That is what causes constipation.
Prevents kidney stones
Kidneys serve to cleanse and rid the body of toxins. Water is vital for the kidneys to do that job. Water helps remove waste products, which the kidneys do by filtering about 30 to 40 gallons of fluid every day. Among its benefit for the kidneys, consuming sufficient water dilutes the minerals that cause stones.
It’s helpful to create and maintain a strategy for good hydration. You can do that with these water-drinking tips.
Choose water. Whether it’s at the gym or with meals, skip the soda, juice and other caloric options in favor of water.
Bring it with you. Carry water bottles for easy access, and also plant them, or a refillable water glass, at your desk or other commonly used locations.
Flavor or freeze. Freeze some water bottles to drink cold when thawed. To jazz up plain water, try flavoring it with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or some mint, or infuse water with fruit or cucumbers.
Eat watery foods. Approximately 20 percent of daily fluid intake comes from our food. Think fruit and vegetables. Did you know a banana is 75 percent water and that broccoli is 90 percent water? Even a serving of oatmeal or beans has about a half cup of water.
Sip, don’t gulp. Try not to chug down water in large amounts, as it is not as well absorbed. Drinking large amounts at once causes the kidneys to simply expel the water, resulting in frequent trips to the bathroom and is a possible risk for hyponatremia (see below). Sipping water enables the body to more efficiently absorb in, which is indicated by fewer trips to the bathroom.
Know Your Water Needs
It would seem simple: the body will tell you when you need fluids; drink when you’re thirsty. But by the time you get thirsty, you are probably already on the way to being dehydrated, having lost from one to two percent of your body’s water content.
From exercise to medications that require water consumption, it is important to understand your water needs. While the hard-and-fast rule has been established as “eight glasses a day” (referred to as 8 x 8=eight eight-ounce glasses), that one-size-fits-all is not true for everyone. For general guidelines on your needs, check out a water intake calculator.
A variety of customized apps can also help with hydration. They feature reminders to drink water and keep track of what you’ve consumed, and can match your water needs based on your personal use.
Keeping track of your water intake is important for many reasons. However, in all of this discussion of drinking more, it is also important to understand there is too much of a good thing, and that you can also overhydrate. That phenomenon is called hyponatremia, or water intoxication, which can lead to some serious consequences.
So, raise a glass of water, and drink to your health!
If you’d like to get healthy, request an appointment at Advanced Laparoscopic Associates. Our bariatric surgery experts and our nutrition team can help you come up with a plan to control your weight and cut your risk of disease.
You have a lot on your mind when you have diabetes. How’s my blood sugar? Will this banana spike it too much? Is that ulcer on my foot serious? How’s my heart health?
That last is especially important because heart disease—already the top cause of death in the US—is even more of a concern for people with diabetes. But there’s new hope: A huge study published in September 2019 suggests bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of heart disease in those with diabetes.
Bariatric Surgery: First Line Treatment?
Bariatric surgery is any procedure used on the gastrointestinal system to facilitate weight loss. Bariatric surgery also may be referred to as metabolic surgery because it influences a patient’s metabolism by inducing weight loss and altering the physiology of the gastrointestinal system.
This distinction is important for patients suffering from both obesity and type 2 diabetes. In these cases, bariatric surgery is not just a weight loss solution, but a metabolic surgery, as it has a positive impact as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Research Suggests Bariatric Surgery Helps Heart
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published a large and important retrospective study linking metabolic surgery with a decreased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke or death, in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The authors reviewed and compared the outcomes in 287,438 patients receiving both metabolic surgical procedures and traditional non-surgical treatment at The Cleveland Clinic from 1997 to 2017, with follow-up through December of 2018. The study concluded that bariatric surgery has a positive impact on type 2 diabetic patients, both in reducing obesity and as a proven treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Other studies have shown that when patients have both type 2 diabetes and obesity, long-term health goals are harder to achieve using medications and lifestyle modifications, such as diet and exercise. In this specific patient set, cardiovascular disease is the major cause of poor health and risk of death.
What Is the Link Between Heart Disease and Diabetes?
If you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop heart disease, increasing your chances of a heart attack or stroke. In fact, heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of death in adults with diabetes. The risk of dying from heart disease or stroke is doubled in adult patients with diabetes, and they also develop heart disease at a younger age than adults without diabetes.
When you have diabetes, you must manage your blood sugar (or blood glucose) to protect your heart. When high blood glucose is left untreated, it can damage not only your blood vessels, but also the nerves that control your blood vessels and heart. The longer you have untreated diabetes, the higher the risk of developing heart disease.
When you are overweight or obese, your ability to manage your diabetes becomes harder, and your risk for other health problems increases. Even if you are not overweight, excess belly fat around your waist can raise your chances of developing heart disease.
What Causes Heart Disease?
The cause of heart disease varies depending upon the type of heart disease. Coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease and is caused by atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries that thickens and stiffens the artery walls. These plaque buildups can break off from the artery walls (a process called rupturing). Clots form around them, and if the clot travels through the arteries, it can block blood flow to the heart (a heart attack), the brain (a stroke) or the lungs (pulmonary embolism), starving them of oxygen and destroying tissue. Atherosclerosis often develops due to correctable lifestyle factors, such lack of exercise, poor diet and smoking.
When you have diabetes, high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time. This makes the vessels more susceptible to rupture, which is why people with diabetes have increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Other major controllable contributors to heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity – Body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2 (you can check your BMI with the calculator on our home page)
- Morbid obesity –BMI of 40 or greater, or BMI 35 or greater with coexisting obesity-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
How Can Bariatric Surgery Help Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease in People with Diabetes?
According to the JAMA study and other research:
- Use of noninsulin diabetes medications, insulin, renin-angiotensin system blockers, other antihypertensive medications, lipid-lowering therapies, and aspirin were significantly lower after metabolic surgery compared with traditional non-surgical treatment.
- Metabolic surgery was associated with significantly lower risk of death over 8 years.
- Metabolic surgery is associated with improvements in glucose levels and blood pressure control, contributing to a significant reduction in the risk of heart failure.
- A significantly lower incidence of diabetic nephropathy was observed in the surgical patients compared with nonsurgical patients. Prior studies have also suggested this same result.
- Metabolic surgery can improve insulin sensitivity by two to three times within days after surgery, before any noticeable weight loss even occurs. A complete resolution of diabetes occurred in 76.8 percent of surgical patients in a JAMA systematic review and meta-analysis.
Smaller clinical trials have consistently shown a significant effect of metabolic surgery on obesity and improvements in diabetes control. Due to its success in treating and even resolving type 2 diabetes and the associated health benefits, bariatric surgery is now being used on patients who are less obese than prior requirements for surgery.
If you have diabetes and are ready to take control of your health, request an appointment at Advanced Laparoscopic Associates. Our expert surgeons can tell you if you meet the criteria for weight loss surgery and which bariatric procedure is right for you.
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