America’s mania for expensive bottled waters may be protecting hearts as it empties wallets. Drinking lots of [H.sub.2]O can significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, according to researchers at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif.
Staying hydrated is apparently as important to your cardiovascular system as diet, exercise and avoiding tobacco. “Basically, not drinking enough water can be as harmful to your heart as smoking,” says lead investigator Jacqueline Chan, Ph.D.
Chan’s team found that healthy subjects who drink five or more glasses of water a day have only half the risk (or less) Of fatal coronary heart disease, compared with those who drink less than two glasses per day. The results indicate that several independent risk factors for CHD, such as levels of whole blood viscosity, plasma viscosity, hematocrit and fibrinogen, can be elevated by dehydration.
Unfortunately, you can’t count water gained from Cokes, Frappuccinos and Coronas. Neither total fluid intake nor intake of other fluids combined showed the reduced risk. Instead, heavy consumption of coffee, tea, juice, milk and alcohol was associated with a 46 percent increase in heart-attack risk.
“There is a difference, at least for heart health, whether people get their fluids from plain water or from sodas,” says Chan. Water thins the blood, she explains, while other fluids draw water out of the blood to aid in their digestion. The report concludes that proper hydration could save “tens of thousands of lives each year” with minimal cost or effort.
If the study results are replicable, “this would be the cheapest and simplest method of preventing coronary heart disease imaginable,” says Gary Fraser, M.D., cardiologist at the LLU Heart Institute.
The investigation, part of the Adventist Health Study begun in 1973, involved more than 20,000 participants. The results were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Because protein breakdown requires extra water, eating just two fast-food burgers can lead to dehydration. If you’re on a meat kick or adding supplemental protein, increase your water intake proportionately.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications
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