I spent Saturday morning listening to two great lectures at the Greater Seattle Dietetic Association’s Spring Conference. The first was by Dr. Susan Kleiner, a local dietitian who owns the nutrition consulting firm High Performance Nutrition. She’s worked with a number of NFL and NBA teams, as well as Olympic athletes and male and female bodybuilders. She’s the author of Power Eating and The Good Mood Diet. I’ll pass on a few highlights from her talk.
Right off the bat, she said “The marriage of diet and exercise is frozen solid. We can’t have one without the other.” If a prospective client says they just want a diet plan and they don’t want to exercise, she will not take them on unless they start getting regular exercise first (this can be as simple as going for a walk most days of the week).
Only about 10 percent of those people actually call her back a few months later to report that they have been exercising, and are ready to start working on their eating habits. She said that these new clients are already feeling so much better due to the biochemical and physiological changes that regular exercise produces in the body and in the brain, that they are excited about changing their diet. I think this is an observation that is useful to anyone who is striving to improve their health.
Next, she talked about water. If you’ve been reading this blog regularly for a bit, you know that endorse this humble beverage wholeheartedly. Dr. Kleiner said that the research on the short- and long-term health effects of water shows an association between drinking 5 to 6 cups of water per day (a cup is 8 ounces) and a reduced risk of a number of diseases, compared with people who drink 1 to 2 cups of water, or less.
The studies looked at what other healthy habits water drinkers might have, and adjusted for them in their results.They also teased out water consumption from consumption of other beverages, including tea. In the end, it was the water itself that clearly stood out. In a nutshell, she said that most people need about 12 cups of fluids a day, and at least 5 to 6 of those should be water. (If it’s hot or you’re exercising a lot, you may need more, of course.)
The third point I’ll tell you about is choline. Choline is a nutrient that’s considered to be part of the B vitamin family, although that’s kind of a “loose” assignment. It’s only recently been labeled as an essential nutrient, because it’s only recently been discovered that our bodies can’t make enough to meet our needs. It plays an important role in cell structure, fat metabolism and transmission of nerve impulses. (You can read a reliable, slightly technical article about choline here.)
The U.S. population as a whole has a slight choline deficiency, mostly because so many people stopped eating egg yolks because they allegedly raise blood cholesterol. As Dr. Kleiner said, there’s not one research study that shows that an egg yolk a day raises blood cholesterol for most people. That single daily egg yolk, she says, would get people about three-quarters of the way toward meeting their choline needs. This is something I plan to write about more once I have a chance to look at some of the choline research myself.