Archive for June, 2010

Signs of Dehydration

The last two posts talked about water — alkaline water and how much water you should drink. Dehydration can lead to serious problems and as mentioned previously, the older we get, our nerves that tell us we’re thirsty decline so we might not be aware that we are actually dehydrated. There are several signs of dehydration. Here is a list provided by the Mayo Clinic:

Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output — fewer than six wet diapers a day for infants and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Lack of sweating
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Since thirst is not a dependable indication of the body’s need for water, especially in children and older adults, a  better barometer is the color of your urine — clear or light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated; a dark yellow or amber color usually indicates dehydration.

When to see a doctor
Healthy adults can simply drink more fluids if dehydrated. However, older adults and children need immediate medical  attention if the following occur:

  • Severe diarrhea, with or without vomiting or fever
  • Episodes of vomiting for more than eight hours
  • Moderate diarrhea for three days or more
  • Fluids don’t stay down
  • Irritable or disoriented and much sleepier or less active than usual
  • Any of the signs or symptoms of mild or moderate dehydration

One of my friends was recently taken to the hospital by ambulance and they could find nothing wrong. He had two symptoms of severe dehydration — low blood pressure and rapid heart beat. He’s in his early 60’s. After doing this research, I believe that it does not take much to become dehydrated.

How much water should you drink?

In my last post, I discussed the benefits of alkaline water. In this post, I will discuss how much water you should drink and in the next post I will discuss the signs of dehydration.

We all know that we need water, but how much do we really need? As we get older, our kidneys, which transport water to our tissues, become less efficient. Also, nerves that signal thirst gradually decline as well. So hydration may become an issue.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two approaches:

1. Replacement approach
2. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day

In the replacement approach, you need to replace what you lose from your urine, breathing, sweating, and bowel movements which account for approximately 4 cups of water a day. Food will usually account for 20 percent of your fluid intake. Hence, if you add about 8 cups of water or other beverages a day, you will be replacing your lost fluids. Remember, though, individual circumstances vary.

In the 8 glasses of water a day approach, some people count all liquids, but it is water that is supported by scientific evidence. This approach is easier to remember. If you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate. And who’s going to bother measuring their outflow?

Alkaline Water

You may or may not have heard of companies marketing water ionizers which make water more alkaline. By drinking ionized water, the acidity which corrodes body tissue is lowered and hence illness would be reduced. That’s the claim, but is it important for our body to be in a more alkaline state than an acidic one?

Let’s go back to high school (or was it elementary school?) science. On the pH scale, alkalinity runs from zero to 14. Seven (7) is neutral, >7 is alkaline, <7 is acidic. Our blood is generally slightly alkaline with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Our body strives to maintain a balanced pH level and when the balance is compromised, problems can occur.  Also, as we get older, our pH balancing system gets less efficient. A body that’s too alkaline is rare; one that is too acidic is very common. For example, how many people do you know that have heartburn or acid reflux — problems with too much acid produced by the stomach.

One of the problems that many seniors face is that of being on too many prescription drugs. Drugs have many unwanted side effects and additionally deplete nutrition as I pointed out in a previous post. Perhaps alkaline water, rather than drugs, can help solve some of the problems.

A blog post on the popular osteoporosis drug, Fosomax, says that the secret to preventing osteoporosis could be alkalinity. According to alive.com, in research presented in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004, alkaline-forming foods were found to build strong bones and prevent both risk of fracture and osteoporosis, while acid-forming foods were found to increase bone loss, risk of fracture, and osteoporosis. According to a study in the 2003 journal Neoplasma, acid-forming soft drinks, alcohol, and coffee proved to be statistically significant risk factors for cancer. Click here to see a partial list of alkaline and acid-forming foods. Another list from preventdisease.com is here.

According to the NIH, calcium intake along with vitamin D can help maintain body alkalinity and prevent osteoporosis. This post gives you the  recommended daily intake of calcium.

Published in 1991, the author of Alkalize or Die says:

The countless names of illnesses do not really matter. What does matter is that they all come from the same root cause…too much tissue acid waste in the body!
Theodore A. Baroody, N.D., D.C., Ph.D.

Personally, I drink at least 8 ounces of alkaline water a day. I use a product called VitaWater mixing an ounce with 1 gallon of distilled water and drinking it as is or making my cup of green tea with it. Not only is it an alkalizing agent, I use it for burns, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and for my plants as well. For more information, click here.

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Dr. Oz and AARP Magazine 6-Month Plan

A couple of months ago, I told you in a post about how much I enjoy watching Dr. Oz. Now, according to Reuters, Dr. Oz has turned 50 and has teamed with AARP Magazine to create a six-month plan for increasing longevity among the 50-plus population.

According to Champagne Living, Dr. Oz’s program includes the following:

Daily Checklist

  1. Walk 30 Minutes
  2. Brush and Floss
  3. Drink Two Cups of Green Tea
  4. Take Omega 3s, Calcium and Vitamin D (links take you to what I recommend — read more about calcium here and Omega 3 fatty acids here)
  5. Sleep 7-8 Hours a Night
  6. Meditate

Dr. Mehmet Oz’s 6-month plan:

  • Month 1: Your Diet Makeover — Provides a three-day diet designed to jump-start your body to lose weight
  • Month 2: Tests & Numbers — Lists important medical tests and tests that readers can do at home to ensure that their health stays on track
  • Month 3: Ramp Up Your Exercise — Maps out a four-week exercise plan focused on weight-lifting, flexibility, and balance
  • Month 4: Manage Your Stress — Encourages readers to engage in daily activities such as deep breathing and meditation to reduce chronic stress
  • Month 5: Find Purpose — Challenges readers to define clearly what they want out of life to add to their overall sense of wellness
  • Month 6: Put it Together — Calls for readers to retake the tests from Month 2 to see how their numbers have improved considerably since embarking on the six-month plan

According to the editor of the AARP Magazine, if you follow these guidelines, at the end of the six month period, your blood pressure, healthy cholesterol, and blood sugar, will improve. I suggested in my very first post about getting started with a baby step such as walking. Topping Dr. Oz’s list is a 30-minute daily walk. If you haven’t started, let’s get moving! Remember, many of our diseases are lifestyle choices.

One of the member benefits is the AARP Magazine so if you are not a member of AARP, click here to join. Click here to find out other member benefits. Cheers to your wellness!

Bucket List — Yellowstone National Park

Last year I wrote a post called “What’s on your Bucket List?” Last week I went on a trip with my husband to check off an item on his bucket list — Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park. . Unfortunately, entry to Yellowstone required a four-wheel drive vehicle and our rental car did not fit the requirement. Hence, we put “Plan B” into action. Not being able to get into Yellowstone gave us a unique opportunity to see other parts of Wyoming and Colorado that we had not included on our itinerary.

One of the most interesting things about the trip was that while citizens of Wyoming and Colorado live in the same country as I do, the weather and terrain can dictate how they live. We drove about 500 miles from Denver to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and saw houses/farms that were miles apart from each other. I can’t imagine a life with my neighbors being miles away.

In our long drive we constantly saw signs that read, “Road Closed When Flashing” on major highways. Can you imagine trying to get to work and having to turn around because a major artery is closed? Or, you’re happily cruising along and you see a sign that says, “Turn off cruise control. Reduce speed. Strong wind gusts possible 45+ mph.” We even experienced a wind storm while driving in Wyoming and that night as the winds picked up, it felt as though the hotel roof could be ripped off at any time. Being in a corner room on the top floor was even more frightening. The next morning we heard on the news that a semi-trailer had over-turned on Interstate 25 due to the strong winds.

Then a couple of days later while in Denver, a strong spring storm came through causing extensive hail damage and canceled flights. We were at the Rocky Mountain National Park just north of Denver and saw dark skies, but no rain. We considered ourselves very fortunate. We know how hail can damage cars and we had no desire to return our rental car covered with hail damage.

So although we failed to get to Yellowstone National Park on our “Bucket List,” we had many memorable experiences (including temperatures that ranged from the 30’s to the 90’s) that more than made up for our disappointment. As a retired senior, I’m fortunate to be able to not only travel but to allow flexibility in my life as well.