Drink to your Health

I am not a big fan of juice, fresh squeezed or otherwise. In fact if you ask for my advice I most often tell people to avoid drinking juice and take your fruits whole.

When you eat a fruit versus “drink ” one you generally get more fiber and fewer calories. You also feel fuller, longer. Studies show that the action of chewing may reduce hunger. Remember that digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing stimulates your brain which cues the gut. When we eat fast and drink liquids we decrease the levels of oro-sensory signaling ( how do you like that term?) that trigger digestion and satiety.

As always there is a but. I have come across two beverages that I would support us all drinking. The first is a lovely Energizing Green Tonic from Fast Food Good Food by Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. Weil, a Harvard trained physician, has been a proponent of food as medicine for a very long time. I like his balanced approach to health and medicine.

The selling advantage for this drink is the amount of fiber. A whole 5 gm of fiber in one serving, and you know how I feel about fiber, we could all use more in our diet. In addition, this tonic is a good source of calcium, which is fantastic for people avoiding milk, 180 mg/serving. One reason I caution people about fruit juice is the concentration of sugar is often very high, even in fresh squeezed juices. This tonic has about 18 gm carbohydrate per glass, that with the fiber makes it an acceptable drink for people watching there blood sugar levels.

Green Tonic
1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
1 green apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach
4 romaine lettuce leaves, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled ginger
Pinch of sea salt
1. Put the ingredients and 2 cups of water into a blender and puree on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth. Add more or less water for desired consistency. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and serve chilled or over ice.


My second drink vote goes to Tumeric Tea. Tumeric is definitely a super food. Tumeric, most often used in Indian style cooking, has powerful anti-oxidant properties and has been associated with reducing the risk for many of the chronic diseases that plague us, including dementia. I found this tea to be particularly soothing on a cold rainy day.

Tumeric Tea
2 cups of water
1 inch of fresh ginger,minced
2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon ( or two sticks)
pinch of sea salt
orange slices
1 teaspoon of coconut oil ( optional)
Simmer 10-15 minutes. Strain and enjoy!
Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!


Shanghai Spring has Sprung

Every meeting and greeting I have seen this week has commented on the early warm weather that has visited Shanghai.

For myself I keep thinking it is just a taste of the sultry season to come. And with the Shanghai heat comes sweat which  should  reminds us all of the need to replace and replenish with plenty of our the favorite liquids.

I am already making the transition from cozy warm teas in the afternoon to refreshing sparkling infused water cocktails and teas. As you know staying hydrated is important all year around , however the demands of summer heat and humidity make it doubly important to drink enough liquid. I am amazed at the camels I have met who say they get through the day with 3 cups of coffee.

The importance of being hydrated can not be underestimated. We all know that water is necessary for life.  Your body is about 60% water. Water is involved in almost every process you ask your body to complete on a daily basis , 24 hours a day. Even when you are sleeping your body is using water to keep you air passages nice and moist. Again when you are sleeping your body is using water to complete the detox process. Why do you think many programs ask you to drink juice to detox? Its the power of the  liquid as much as the juice. The way your body rids itself of toxins is by using fluid, think urination and sweat. These are two important avenues of detoxing that your body uses everyday.

Most importantly in the heat and humidity seasons your body cools itself by sweating.  If you don’t have enough fluid in your body then this process slows down and can result in heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Finally, drinking enough fluid is vital to any weight-loss effort you may be attempting now that bikini season is in view. Many times we confuse hunger with thirst, eating when we are really just thirsty. Not sure you can tell the difference? When you are hungry, have a drink of water first , then see how you feel.

I will admit water can get boring after awhile and even sparkling water has its limits so why not think of water as the vehicle for other delightful liquid libations.

Infused waters are all the craze now and this time of year is perfect to experiment with some new flavors. Making infused waters is like brewing your own ice teas. You take water, either still or sparkling and add some fruits and or herbs to the mix and let them steep for 2-3 hours on the counter or 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.  Start with the fruit , mash just a bit to release juices then add the herbs, if using.  Tear apart the herb leaves to release some of the flavorful oil. Top with 4 cups or 1200-1500 ml of water.

Some combinations to get you started include:

Orange slices and Ginger                                                                                                                                                                               Watermelon and Cilantro                                                                                                                                                                                             Cucumber and Mint                                                                                                                                                                                                   Raspberry and Lime

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!

Jet Lag Juice

Here we are again. After so many years of traveling between Shanghai and the United States you would think coping with jet-lag would be routine by now. But just like the search for a cure for the common cold, looking for a way to reduce the effects of jet-lag ( read: speed up the process of getting over it) never ends.

Conventional wisdom says that it takes one day for every hour of time zone crossed to make the adjustment. Coming from the East coast of the United States that translates into 12 days, sorry not acceptable.

Every one I talk to has some personal way of dealing with the issue of jet-lag. Some embrace it and follow their natural body rhythm …waking at 3 am and falling to sleep at 6 pm until the body makes its 12 day adjustment.  I believe those people don’t live in Shanghai! Then there are the bulls who just force the issue. They are the irritated folks you meet about 3 pm. I am not sure they get over jet lag any faster than the rest of us weaklings.

From a scientific standpoint there are some approaches you can take to , perhaps, lessen the effects of jet-lag.

1. Drink caffeinated beverages in the early normal awake hours.

2. Have your high protein meals at breakfast and lunch to improve alertness.

3. Have a high carbohydrate meal in the evening when you want to fall asleep.

4. Stay hydrated.  Airplanes are notorious for sucking fluids from the body. Drink before, during and after your flight.

5.  Avoid succumbing to cravings for sweets and greasy snacks.

There is an Anti-Jet Lag diet that works on a “Feast and Fast” premise but that needs to start before you leave on your trip, just when you are trying to eat all the yummy foods from home one last time!

Is there a Jet-Lag Juice to counter the effects of time travel?  Sadly not yet but that recipe would be  something to work on at 3 am!

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!

Hot & Steamy Shanghai in the Summer

Hot plus steamy may mean Shanghai in July to all of us but hot plus steamy also equals sweaty.  Don’t get me wrong, sweaty is good.  Sweating is the way your body regulates body temperature. In other words we sweat to cool ourselves down. Without sweating we would succumb to heat stroke quite quickly and then as my mother would say…it is good night nurse!

But I digress. Sweating in any case is important and living in Shanghai we get to practice that function a lot during the summer.  However to be efficient at it our bodies need to be well hydrated. Like calories in and calories out, liquid in must match liquid out. Calculating liquids out is hard to measure and thirst is not always the best indicator of hydration status. Usually by the time you are feeling parched your body is already too dry.

Staying well hydrated is important year ’round but when the hot, steamy days of summer hit keeping up your personal water table can be a challenge. Nutrition and medical experts recommend that we drink at 1.5 – 2 liters of non-caffeinated fluid everyday and more as the temperature rises.

Not crazy about the taste of water or just bored with it? Try adding a little fizz to your day with sparkling water and a spritz of lemon or lime juice. One of my favorite cool down drinks combines  fresh watermelon, tonic water ( you can also use coconut water if you don’t want the sugar from the tonic water) and the juice of two Calmansi limes, all whipped together in a blender. Talk about refreshing…

How about making your own refrigerator ice tea or flavored waters? Log onto www.theyummylife.com/flavoredwater for great ideas that will expand your thirst quenching choices.

If you are the type who only uses water to brush your teeth ( and even that you spit out) try these tips to get more fluid in your day.
1. Start every morning with a cup of water ( 240 ml). Drink it while you are waiting for the coffee to brew.
2. Start every meal with a cup of water and then finish it with one as well.
3. Use a straw. That bottle of water will disappear in no time.
4. Don’t sit down to the computer without a cup of herbal tea or water. Think of the two as one ( computer and drink).

Eat Well, Live Well, Drink Well!