Beginner Plan: Beverages
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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Let's start with the most important element of your diet: Water!
Water makes up more than 70 percent of your body's tissues and plays a role in nearly every body function, from regulating temperature and cushioning joints to bringing oxygen to your cells and removing waste from your body. Therefore, it's vital to pay attention to what you drink.
Lesson 1: Drink enough water to turn your urine light yellow
Drinking enough water is one of the most simple, basic, and important health steps you can take. However I am no longer convinced that we all need 8 glasses of water a day, which I used to recommend.
After a while I began to question this one-size-fits-all logic, and further refined my recommendations to use the color of your urine as a guide to how much water you should be drinking. As long as you are not taking riboflavin (vitamin B2), which fluoresces and turns your urine bright yellow (it is also in most multi-vitamins), then your urine should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water.
If you drink the required amount of water to maintain a light yellow coloring, you can easily avoid dehydration, which can have profound effects on your health. Dehydration can cause:
- Dry skin
Lesson 2: Drink your water at the right rate.
It's better to sip water all day long than to guzzle a large amount all at once. Depending on your size, your body can only process a bit more than a glass of water per hour. If you drink much more than this at one sitting, the extra water will not be used, but merely flushed down the toilet bowl. So keep your water bottle with you all day long, and let your thirst be your guide for when to drink.
Lesson 3: Drink pure water.
Healthy water? I bet you thought all water was healthy! Don't be tricked!
Healthy water is water that has been properly treated to avoid contamination. Nearly all municipal water supplies have chlorine and fluoride (a highly toxic bone poison that should be avoided at all costs) added during water treatment, both of which are detrimental to your health.
Europeans have known for many years that fluoride is toxic and have long since removed it from their water supplies. Be sure and obtain a filter (see my recommendations below) to avoid ingesting chlorine and fluoride. About 5 percent of the water supplies in the U.S. also contain unhealthy arsenic levels that can cause you health problems.
Additionally, thousands of tons of drugs are flushed down the toilet, and many wind up in your water supply as most filtration plants aren't designed to remove them. There are several ways to obtain healthy water in your home:
- Avoid distilled water. While this is a controversial area in natural medicine, I believe there is enough evidence to recommend avoiding distilled water as it:
- Has the wrong ionization, pH, polarization and oxidation potentials
- Doesn't remove VOC's and DBPs
- Is ineffective at removing toxic fluoride
- Draws out chemicals and metal contaminants from whatever container it's stored in
- Leaches minerals from your body which can lead to health problems
On the positive side, it may help draw out toxins during a short-term detoxification program, but all in all, I believe the drawbacks are stacked quite high and clearly outweigh any perceived benefit.
- Filter your water. There are two main types of filters that I recommend:
- Carbon-combination filters: Our Pure & Clear filters use a “selective filtration” process rather than a mechanical one. This advanced technology helps remove harmful contaminants such as THMs and lead, but retains beneficial minerals including potassium and calcium.
The contaminants or other substances removed or reduced by this water treatment device are not necessarily present in your water. The exclusive five stage dual cartridge system removes contaminants based on their level of prevalence, eliminating the most competitive compounds first, such as chlorine and sediment, and allowing the latter stages to focus on the more difficult task of removing lead and synthetic chemicals. The patented dual filter system uses a combination of carbon filtration, ion-exchange and sub-micron filtration to produce great tasting, healthier water.
- Reverse osmosis: This type of system removes most impurities but creates fairly acidic water. It also strips out some of the minerals your body needs. However, it’s still acceptable in the beginning stage.
- Avoid bottled water. This kind of water is usually acceptable, but it's expensive and also negatively impacts the environment. And, despite its hefty price tag, bottled water is NOT an assurance of purity. About 40 percent of bottled water is just regular tap water, which may or may not have received any additional treatment. In fact, most municipal tap water -- though generally far from pure -- must actually adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water industry. About one third of more than 100 bottled water brands tested for contaminants were found to contain chemicals like arsenic and carcinogenic compounds, at levels exceeding state or industry standards, and fluoride is usually still present in bottled water.
- Store your water safely. Avoid purchasing the one-gallon cloudy plastic (PVC) containers from your grocery store as they transfer far too many chemicals into your water. The five-gallon containers and the clear bottles (polyethylene) are a much better plastic and will not give the water an unpalatable plastic taste. It is best to store your water in glass containers., The exception would be the five gallon jugs as they pose a serious accident risk and those are not recommended.
Lesson 4: You can use lemon juice to add a bit of flavor and normalize your body's pH level.
You can add lemons or limes to your water occasionally, to help flavor it and normalize your body's pH if you're too acidic. However, be careful not to use the lemon juice continuously or you run the risk of developing an allergy to it.
Lesson 5: Assess your water delivery system.
If you have a water softener, you need to divert the softened water away from the kitchen tap to a reverse osmosis system. If you have municipal water you will also want to add a filter to your shower to remove the chlorine, as this exposure could actually be greater than exposure from drinking your water. If you are on your own well, this is not necessary.
Lesson 6: Monitor all other fluids.
- Coffee and tea: In this level you can have coffee and tea, unless you are pregnant. Caffeine has clearly been associated with pregnancy complications and should be avoided by all pregnant women. If you struggle with insomnia or anxiety, please avoid all caffeine.
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, and distilled spirits are allowed in moderation. Moderate alcohol intake is defined as a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor with a meal. You will have to count these as carbohydrates, however!
- Juices: Fruit juices are also allowed in the beginning level, but you should seek to limit them as much as possible as they contain large amounts of sugar. Remember to read the labels and count the sugars/carbs into your 25 gram/day max fructose allotment. Ideally it is best to avoid fruit juices all together though and consume your fruit as whole fruit as the fiber in the fruit will impact your sugar levels less.
- Avoid all soft drinks! I don't ever advocate drinking any soft drink for any reason as they have no redeeming value whatsoever. Both regular and diet sodas are potent contributors to a number of health challenges. For example, did you know that for every can of soda you drink per day, your risk of obesity increases by 60 percent! This is one of the easiest changes you can make that can significantly improve your health.