If you believed everything that you read here, there is almost nothing that you can put in your mouth and hope to live a healthy life with diabetes. This is particularly true if you have gastroparesis or paralyzed stomach, as I wrote here recently.
In that blog entry I quoted the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. They say that to treat gastroparesis you need to avoid fats and eat less fiber.
My friend Gretchen Becker threw that quote back at me. Gretchen has written several books including one of the two best books about diabetes, The First Year-Type 2 Diabetes: an Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed.
“OK. We’re avoiding carbs, avoiding fats, and avoiding fiber,” she says. “That doesn’t leave a lot to eat,” she continues. “Low-GI foods are high in fiber. Pure protein diet? And of course we can only boil that protein or we’ll get AGEs in our food. If we followed all these recommendations, our life would be pretty grim.”
She’s right. Of course, the upside is that we would all be a lot thinner if we ate little or nothing.
Still, there is one thing that everybody agrees that we need plenty of. Water.
How much water we need has, however, been a matter of controversy for years. It is not true that you have to drown yourself in the stuff. There’s an old urban myth that you should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. While you will see this advice repeated time and again, it appears to lack any scientific proof.
One of the questions that I wrote about in my first book was “How much water should I drink?”
Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell, and I wrote it a couple of years ago, and Marlowe & Company just published the second American edition. I told them that I thought the title of the first edition was too long. So the title of the new edition is even longer: The New Glucose Revolution: What Makes My Blood Glucose Go Up . . . and Down? 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Your Blood Glucose Levels.
I wrote in the book that it looks like the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council started the whole thing in 1945. That’s when the board recommended that we consume about “1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food.” That works out to roughly two to two-and-a-half quarts per day. But most people seem to have missed its next sentence, that “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”
Fruits and vegetables in particular give us a lot of the water we need. They are 80 to 95 percent water. This is in addition to the juices, milk, and other beverages we consume.
Where does that leave us? When you are thirsty, water remains your best choice. Even when you are hungry, having a drink of water is a great idea. It can help you feel fuller and therefore less likely to overeat. This will go a long way toward keeping your blood sugar under control.
I practice what I preach and drink a lot of water. Still, I almost never drink it straight from the tap, even though the water in Boulder, where I live, is about the best in the country.
When I moved here two years ago, I checked out Boulder’s water quality. It scored 100 percent, according to Cities Ranked and Rated by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander. But like everyplace else, Boulder purifies its water with foul-tasting chlorine.
To avoid the chlorine I drank only bottled water for a long time. When I grew tired of carting the bottles home from the store, I switched to letting the tap water set overnight for the chlorine to evaporate.
Finally, this week I invested in an inexpensive water filter that makes my water taste ever so much better than water from the tap even when the chloride has dissipated. You have a wide choice of filters, and I don’t know enough about them to give you a recommendation. But you can find an online comparison.
In addition to drinking filtered water, I also love sparkling water. The thing to watch out for here is the sodium content, because some sparkling water has surprisingly high levels.
I used to think that I couldn’t afford to buy sparkling water. After all, tap water is essentially free. Now, I know that anything that I love that doesn’t have calories – and this includes espresso – is worth whatever money I have.
HealthCentral published an earlier version of this article.