Studies suggest that even mild dehydration - a water loss of 1 to 2% - may affect how well our brains function.* Dehydration can also cause cramping, especially for those participating in sports like tennis, soccer, and cycling.
For most of us, the best way to hydrate is with water. Eating regular meals also helps support hydration through the consumption of electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and potassium in our food.
That said, hydrating with drinks that contain electrolytes may be helpful for some people. For instance exercisers who experience heavy sweating, especially those participating in high intensity activities in hot weather, may benefit from a drink that include electrolytes.
Some people may be concerned about sports drinks that contain artificial coloring and added sugar. Luckily, you can also make a hydrating electrolyte drink from home - check out the recipe below.
Homemade Electrolyte Drink
provides 80 mg sodium and 60 mg potassium per cup
*A loss of 2% body weight is 3 pounds for a 150-pound person.
If you are exercising for longer than an hour at a high intensity, you may benefit from commercial sports drinks - they contain a specialized ratio of electrolytes, plus added carbohydrates to help with proper fueling. Also, if you have a medical condition, like kidney disease or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor or dietitian before making any significant changes to your beverage intake.
Huang WC, Tung YT, Wu MS, et al. Low-Osmolality Carbohydrate–Electrolyte Solution Ingestion Avoid Fluid Loss and Oxidative Stress after Exhaustive Endurance Exercise. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020; 9(4):336.
Riebl SK and BM Dav. The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. The American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Journal. 2013; 17(6): 21–28.
Sawka MN, Burke LM, and Eichner R, et al. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and Fluid Replacement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007; 39(2):377-390
By Courtney Cayer, MGH Dietetic Intern
Are you or someone you know struggling with having enough food to eat? In Eastern Massachusetts, 1 out of 11 of our community members is at risk for hunger. Hunger affects people from many different backgrounds, especially during a pandemic.
Need extra support? Here are some resources that can help:
The Greater Boston Food Bank
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
COVID-19 Food Resources in Boston
Need more help?
Call Project Bread's FoodSource hotline at 1-800-645-8333. They can help determine if you are eligible for SNAP and assist in finding other resources in your area. They have material available in 160 languages too.
Ending Hunger. The Greater Boston Food Bank. Accessed May 2020.
By Alysia Vega, MGH Dietetic Intern
Commonly used herbs, like sage, rosemary, and thyme, contain protective plant chemicals that may help fight chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer. These compounds have been shown to attack inflammation and may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Aim to optimize the potential benefits of herbs by eating them regularly. One way to do this is to grow them at home.
Tips for starting an indoor garden:
Looking for starter plants? Check out your local home improvement or garden store online.
Chohan, M, Naughton DP, Jones L, Opara El. An Investigation of the Relationship Between the Anti-inflammatory Activity, Polyphenolic Content, and Antioxidant Activities of Aooked and In Vitro Digested Culinary Herbs. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2012;2012:627843.
Jiang, T. Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices. Journal of AOAC International. 2019; 102(2): 395-411.
MacCaskey M and B Marken. Gardening for Dummies. New York, NY: Wiley Publishing.2006.
Opara M and M Chohan.Culinary Herbs and Spices: their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing their True Health Benefits. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2014; 15(10): 19183-19202.
Tapsell, L et al. Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices: the Past, the Present, the Future. Medical Journal of Australia. 2006; 185(4): S1-S24.
By Kristin Otto, Dietetic Intern
Though there are no major shortages of food in this country, canned and frozen foods may be difficult to find due to consumer stockpiling. Fear not - fresh foods can also be frozen at home. Refer to our chart below to learn how to freeze them.
Plus Here's 4 Tips to Make Your Produce Last Longer:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions. FDA. Accessed March 2020.
Demichele, K. How to Store Fruits and Vegetables. Cook's Illustrated. 2019. Accessed March 2020.
Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart. FDA. 2018. Accessed March 2020.
The Big Thaw - Safe Defrosting Methods for Consumers. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2013. Accessed March 2020.
By Kylie Sakaida, MS, RD, LDN
Avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store by making use of long-lasting ingredients. To create a supportive meal, mix and match simple combinations of starch, produce, protein, and healthy fats (like olive oil and olives).
1. Utilize Tortillas to Make a Variety of Quesadillas and Tacos
PROTEIN OPTIONS: black, pinto, or garbanzo beans, frozen shrimp, or cheese
PRODUCE OPTIONS: frozen spinach, peppers, or broccoli and jarred salsa
Tip: frozen produce often has just as many - if not more - vitamins than fresh
2. Use Leftover Grains (Like Rice or Quinoa) for a Stir-fry
PROTEIN OPTIONS: tofu or eggs
PRODUCE OPTIONS: frozen broccoli, peas, or peppers and canned vegetables like baby corn or mushrooms
3. Get Creative with Pasta
PROTEIN OPTIONS: white beans, chickpeas, anchovies, or tuna
PRODUCE OPTIONS: garlic and onions, canned tomatoes (or tomato paste), dried mushrooms and herbs (like basil, oregano, or thyme), jarred roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and frozen broccoli or spinach
Tip: try this pasta with chickpeas recipe, which utilizes only pantry ingredients
By Kylie Sakaida, MS, RD, LDN
Getting enough vitamin A, C, and E is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Most of us don't need supplements to do this. In fact, you can support your immune system even while minimizing grocery store trips.
Here's how to stock your kitchen with healthy foods that have low perishability:
Labeling Daily Values. NIH Dietary Supplement Label Database. Accessed April 2020.
USDA Nutrient Database Laboratory. Accessed April 2020.
Vitamin A. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements. Last updated February 14 2020. Accessed March 2020.
Vitamin C. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements. Last updated February 27 2020. Accessed March 2020.
Vitamin E. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements. Last updated February 28 2020. Accessed March 2020.
By Kristine Miklos, MS, RD, LDN
Approximately one-third of the world’s food supply is lost or wasted every year. Fruits and vegetables have the highest waste of any food, so we’ve gathered a few tips to help pack produce onto your plate and divert it from the dumpster.
Root Vegetables: Get Soup Savvy
Blending root vegetables is a quick, easy way to savor the flavors of the season. (They are easily frozen this way too.)
Leafy Greens: Wilted? That Works!
Sauteing leafy greens is a useful cooking strategy when their crispness begins to decline.
Cauliflower: Go Halfsies with Grains
Cauliflower’s chameleon-like flavor makes it one of the most versatile vegetables out there.
FAO. Cutting Food Waste to Feed the World. 2011. Last accessed 2020.
Ever wonder why certain fruits and vegetables are so vibrant? The red to blue-violet hues come from protective plant compounds called anthocyanins.
Along with providing color, anthocyanins may help protect your heart.
They are found in:
Anthocyanins may decrease blood pressure and increase flexibility of artery walls. They have also been associated with reducing inflammation in the body, which may decrease risk of chronic diseases like heart disease. Anthocyanin-rich foods might also defend against heart attacks by protecting the lining of heart and blood vessels.
But having strawberries solely on Valentine’s Day isn’t going to cut it.
Research suggests consuming at least ½ cup of anthocyanin-containing foods daily may have benefits. As for those berries? They may be particularly good for your heart – eating them more than 3 times per week may reduce risk of a heart attack.
Need inspiration? Try this quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberries.
Bhagwat H, Haytowitz D, Holden J. USDA database for the flavonoid content of selected foods. USDA Agriculture Research Service. 2013.
Cassidy A, Mukamal K, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen A, and Rimm E. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation. 2013;127(2): 188-196.
Cassidy A, Rogers G, Peterson J, Dwyer J, Lin H, et al. Higher dietary anthocyanin and flavonol intakes are associated with anti-inflammatory effects in a population of US adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015; 102(1): 172-181.
Hassellund S, Flaa A, Kjeldsen S, Selijeflot I, Karlsen A, Erlund I, and Rostrup M. Effects of anthocyanins on cardiovascular risk factors and inflammation in pre-hypertensive men: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover study. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2013; 27: 100-106.
Jennings A, Welch A, Fairweather-Tait S, Minihane A, Chowiencyzk P, et al. Higher anthocyanin intake is associated with lower arterial stiffness and central blood pressure in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 96(4): 781-788.
By Alyssa Tisdale, MGH Dietetic Intern
Big changes are coming to food labels starting January 2020. We’ve got tips to help break it all down.
REALITY CHECK FOR PORTIONS
FORGET "CALORIES FROM FAT"
ADDED VERSUS NATURAL SUGAR
Label Reading Tip: check the Percent Daily Value (DV) – foods with more than 20% DV are considered high in that nutrient.
2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 8th Edition. 2015..
Briggs MA, Petersen KS, Kris-Etherton PM. Saturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Replacements for Saturated Fat to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk. Healthcare (Basel). 2017;5(2):29.
Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. FDA. 2019.
Health Facts: Know Your Fats. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Toolkit for Health Professionals. 2008.
Mayne, S. Statement on New Guidance for the Declaration of Added Sugars on Food Labels for Single-Ingredient Sugars and Syrups and Certain Cranberry Products. FDA. 2019.
By Jennie Dockser, MGH Dietetic Intern
During the holidays, we are often exposed to situations that can influence how much we eat. Instead of fearing weight gain, focus on strategies that allow for the enjoyment of festive foods.
Tips to try this season:
Try this sweet potato pancake recipe – it is an excellent source of vitamin A, which supports immune function to help keep you healthy during the holidays.
Díaz-Zavala RG, Castro-Cantú MF, Valencia ME, Álvarez-Hernández G, Haby MM, Esparza
Romero J. Effect of the Holiday Season on Weight Gain: A Narrative Review. J Obes.2017; 2085136.
Huang Z, Liu Y, Qi G, Brand D, Zheng SG. Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. J Clin Med. 2018;7(9): 258.
Niacin Facts Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Last Updated July 2019. Accessed October 2019.