Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Diet and Health

So, last Friday I got it really hammered home the importance of hydration, that is, drinking lots of water. My wife sometimes would get dizzy spells on quickly sitting up or standing up. She has fairly low blood pressure. As it turns out, the main thing for her is just keeping the fluid volume up. With that bit of info, I could have been saved a couple of big scares. I always took it for granted that running a couple of quarts low on fluid, while not ideal, is not really a problem. I tended to take in most of my fluids in the form of caffeinated beverages.

Of my own problems, I have the annoyance known as IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. I read
this article a couple of months ago, about intentionally ingesting weakened intestinal parasites as way to treat IBS symptoms. Well, that seemed a bit drastic to me. I took a more benign approach. I am eating yogurt with live cultures most days. It has had a very positive effect. Unlike the pig whipworms, though, I find I really do have to eat it every day to maintain the effect. Plain yogurt is a bit sour for me, though, so I sweeten it with a non-nutritive sweetener like stevia, and I'm good. Flavored yogurts are basically a sweet dessert food, looking at the labels.

I'm not a TV watcher (haven't had cable or satellite since about 1994), so it took Slashdot to point me to Alton Brown's website. On his blog, he foreswears high fructose corn syrup and (partially-)hydrogenated vegetable oils. I'm down on that. I have a fondness for what's usually called fruit nectars. I had always assumed they were pretty much fruit juice and pulp. Oh, not so, when I finally looked at the label a few years back. "WTF is high fructose corn syrup? And why is it the second ingredient? Isn't the fruit already sweet enough?" I just had a bad feeling about it then. As to transmogrified vegetable oils, doing a low-carb diet for a while got me back onto natural fats. I was not avoiding them out of any aversion per se, I just found cooking with natural fats tasted better. It's only later that the newsmedia told me how terrible transfatty acids are for me. Heck, I just know short crust tastes a lot better made with lard or butter than with shortening.

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