A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times



Whatever the latest food trend—chia seeds, coconut flour, kale chips—you're on it. But you might be skimping on the most basic thing you can do for your health: chugging enough water. 

"I see this happening a lot with busy women," notes Pamela Peeke, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Body for Life for Women. "They become so absorbed with work, answering e-mails and texting that they neglect to grab a water bottle." Soon they're parched and draggy.

Other signs of mild dehydration: muscle cramps, dizziness and headaches. Women who are even slightly dehydrated may find it harder to concentrate than those who aren't, according to a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition. And if your body is regularly running low on water, you're more likely to be constipated, too.

Brace yourselves... Dehydration tends to happen most during the summer months.

"On top of transporting nutrients to your cells and protecting your kidneys, water also regulates body temperature," Dr. Peeke explains. As you heat up, your skin starts pumping out water to cool you off, which can put you at a deficit if you're not careful. But don't sweat it... this expert guide makes it easy to stay quenched all season long.

So how much fluid should I drink every day? 


You've probably heard you should have around eight glasses daily, but it turns out that's a little low. (This popular recommendation has been around mainly because it's easy to remember—8 ounces eight times per day.)

"A good baseline is 2.2 litres, or about 9 cups of fluid a day," Dr. Peeke says. You may need even more if you're overweight, live at a high altitude or are working in extremely hot weather, all of which are dehydrating factors. Experts agree that your best gauge is that time-tested one: checking your pee. "You want it to be the colour of lemonade," says Kim Larson, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If it's medium to dark yellow, down a glass, stat (latin for this instant). Sorry, but you don't get any bonus points for clear urine, a sign that you're actually drinking more than you need. According to a major review published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, there's no significant evidence that guzzling extra glasses will help flush your body of toxins, improve skin tone or reduce headaches any better than being adequately hydrated will.

But wait—don't I have to get more when I exercise? 


Well that depends.

If you'll be indoors and have managed to stay hydrated all day before the workout, then no. But if you're in the summer heat, you can easily sweat out the equivalent of 4 cups of fluid in an hour-long outdoor session. In that case, drink 20 ounces of water an hour before, and try to take in about one half of a cup during every 15 minutes of activity, Larson advises.

Going for a jog first thing in the morning? Have a drink beforehand. And if you're training for a marathon or playing a sport for a few hours, weigh yourself before and after, says Leslie Bonci, RD, a sports nutritionist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre: "For every pound you've lost during your workout, drink 24 ounces of fluid to get hydrated again."

Well does my daily morning coffee count? 


Surprise: It does, per a new study from the University of Birmingham in England.

Researchers asked java drinkers to sip either coffee or water and found that caffeine isn't dehydrating. There's a caveat, though. If you never drink caffeine and then have a cup of coffee, it acts as a diuretic and draws water from your body, explains Leslie Spry, MD, spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation.

"But if you have coffee regularly," he adds, "your body becomes habituated and it doesn't have the same effect." Other beverages, including tea, milk, OJ and sports drinks, also work, although you don't want to over caffeinate or down too much sugar. What to avoid? Soft drinks, even diet kinds. "They have salt, which dehydrates you," Dr. Peeke says. "So many women think, Ahh, how refreshing! But soda just sucks fluid out of your cells."

How much does the water that I consume from foods like fruit matter? 


Water in food accounts for about 20 percent of people's daily fluid needs, according to the Institute of Medicine. "And the hydration you get from food is just as good as what you get from drinking water," says Dr. Peeke.

For example, a grilled chicken breast, served with cauliflower and one-half cup of spinach, nets you almost a full cup of water. There's even a hidden perk to watery bites: They may even help you slim down.

If I drink a lot one day, can I drink less the next? 


Reality check: You are not a camel. Human bodies weren't designed to store excess water. "After a couple of hours, you just pee it out," says Bonci.

The reality is, you need to reach your H2O goal every single day to sidestep energy dips and other health troubles. If you tend to skimp, especially at times when you've got a lot going on, tap an app to help; try Waterlogged, which will send you reminders to drink up. The good news is that even if you get seriously thirsty and realize that you haven't been drinking enough water, your body will rebound after you down a glass or two. Cheers!

Do I really need a water filter? 


Despite mandated monitoring, "there can still be trace amounts of impurities in tap water, including lead that leaches from plumbing," explains Cheryl Luptowski, home-safety expert for *NSF International. Even very low levels of lead in water have been linked to cognitive issues, particularly in children. First, call your supplier to get your water report. A simple carbon filter may be enough. But if there's just a tiny bit of arsenic, lead or perchlorates, you'll need a more comprehensive home water treatment system designed for your issues. A system like ours, the eSpring water treatment system, is just what you need.



*NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit public health organisation dedicated to maintaining quality standards for food, water, and consumer goods.

The NSF has certified the eSpring Water Treatment System reduces more individual contaminants than any other carbon-based UV filtration system.

The eSpring was also the first home water purifier with carbon/UV technology to be certified as meeting NSF International Standards 42, 53 and 55 for water quality.




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I had the misfortune to need new tyres on the old jalopy last week and was surprised to learn that Ford are about to phase out their much beloved Escort and a young fellow by the name of Tony Blair is tipped to be the UK’s next Prime Minister. Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad, but if you’ve ever sat in a waiting room of any kind, you can’t fail to have noticed that the magazines are very rarely current.

And that’s something that the medical profession have noticed too with The British Medical Journal recently publishing a study by a professor Bruce Arroll from The University of Aukland in New Zealand who set out to see exactly what was going on.

Motivated by his own frustration, Professor Arroll purchased 87 magazines, including non-gossipy ones like Time magazine, the Economist, and National Geographic, and gossipy ones, which he defined as having five or more photographs of celebrities on the front cover, and he subsequently placed them in a family practice office in Aukland.

Forty seven of the magazines were less than 60 days old, while the rest were between 3 and 12 months old. Each magazine was individually tagged and monitored twice a week. The purpose of the study was to find out if the new or old magazines disappeared first, to measure the rate of loss, and to determine if the type of magazine affected the rate of loss.

After a month, the results were analysed. 47% of the magazines had disappeared. 59% of the recent magazines had disappeared versus 27% of the older ones. The gossipy magazines disappeared at a rate fourteen times higher than the non-gossipy ones. Of the 27 gossipy magazines, only one was left.

The authors of the study concluded that waiting room proprietors could save money by only offering old copies of the Economist and Time magazine. It’s an interesting recommendation and one that could be improved by suggesting that they only have copies of magazines written in Swahili. Maybe supermarkets could embrace this principle and reduce their own ‘shrinkage’ by only stocking crap which nobody wants. Or better still, clear the shelves completely - That’ll stop the buggers.

I don’t suppose doctors/dentists/hospitals/car tyre fitters are major marketing people though, so they’re probably not that interested in giving people a particularly better experience. Nor are they that interested in what the research actually means, But I am (oh really? Who would have thought?).

If you take the fact that the gossipy magazines are fourteen times more likely to disappear from doctors waiting rooms than serious ones, what does that actually imply? What might it imply? Is it obvious? Give it a bit of thought before scrolling down to see some of the things I think it might mean…

Gossip magazines are generally more interesting than serious magazines.

Ill people are more interested in gossip magazines than serious magazines.

People who are interested in gossip magazines are more likely to steal than people who are interested in serious magazines.

People who are interested in serious magazines are wealthier and have no reason to steal magazines.

People who are interested in gossip magazines have worse health than people who are interested in serious magazines.

People value gossip magazines less than serious magazines and so are more prepared to steal them.

People value gossip magazines more than serious magazines and so are more likely to steal them.

Gossipy magazine fans are slower readers than serious magazine fans.

Doctor’s patients buy lots of serious magazines and have no reason to steal them.

Gossipy magazines are just more popular than serious magazines. The rate of disappearance is in line with sales volumes.

There are probably plenty more possible conclusions, (and I’d love to hear what you think they might be) and that’s the problem with research of all kinds… it’s very easy to jump on the most obvious meaning when the truth might be far more complex. Without further research, it’s impossible to conclude anything concrete from the study which might answer the simple question – why? The truth may be a combination of several factors.

Whenever you see the results of a study or piece of research, it’s worth giving serious thought to what it might actually mean. Seizing on the first – and most obvious conclusions – can send you down blind alleys and cause you to miss things that are a little more subtle but a lot more useful. You might return to the most obvious conclusion, but having picked up many useful insights along the way.

In my own reception area at Localad Services HQ (the more popular of the two uses for our dining room), I have solved the problem of magazine theft completely by only having copies of this blog permanently displayed on the computer’s main monitor available for all and sundry to read.


STOP PRESS...

I just checked and I appear to have more magazines there than when I first started writing this crap!



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