Q: How much is too much coffee?
While small doses of caffeine may serve to increase alertness and ability to concentrate, research has linked excessive caffeine intake to insomnia (no surprises there), headaches, and in some cases, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and bone health issues. Also, there is some research that links excessive caffeine intake to fertility issues - in both males and females - although more conclusive evidence is needed. Aim to limit your caffeine intake to 400 mg per day. One cup - 250ml - of brewed coffee has 175 mg of caffeine, and a cup of regular green tea has 30 mg. Beware of take-out coffee drinks that may have higher concentrations of caffeine (not to mention refined sugar) and larger portions, as well as energy drinks, and cola beverages. Feeling tired? Drink more water!
Q: Do I need to drink 8 glasses of water every day?
Similar to individual energy requirements, the exact amount of water you need varies daily and depends on gender, age, physical size and how active you are, as well as environmental factors like heat and humidity. It may be 8 glasses per day, but if you are running around on a hot day you may need double that amount. Water is very important to help maintain body temperature, digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients, as well as eliminate toxins and other waste from the body; the average person can lose as much as 2.5 litres of water through processes of breathing, sweating and elimination. Do not wait to feel thirsty before drinking water; you may already be dehydrated. Aside from thirst, symptoms of dehydration can be as mild and subtle as fatigue or a headache.
To replace those losses, it is recommended to aim for an average daily fluid intake of at least 3 L (12 cups) for healthy men and 2.2 L (9 cups) for healthy women. While drinking water is your best fluid choice to satisfy thirst, keep energized and avoid dehydration, fluids can also be found in other beverages and foods. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of plain water (tap or bottled) throughout the day.
Q: What does a "balanced" lunch look like?
To create a healthy "balanced" lunch, we love the plate method. Take a plate and fill half of it with vegetables - aim for a variety of colours for nutrient diversity (try to include at least one dark green vegetable). Then add a source of lean protein (eg. poultry, fish, dairy-based protein, plant-based protein etc.) to fill up about 1/4 of your plate. Then, for the remaining 1/4 of your plate add a healthy carbohydrate source (eg. legumes, fruit, whole grains etc.) and top it off with a source of healthy fat - eg. a sprinkling of raw unsalted nuts or seeds added to your salad, or a drizzle of olive oil to your veggies.
Q: What are some quick, easy, healthy lunch ideas?
- Mexican chicken wraps: grilled chicken, low-fat shredded cheese, and cabbage-apple slaw served wrapped in Swiss Chard wraps or whole grain tortilla shells with a side of grilled veggies.
- Protein salad: Green salad with sliced hard boiled egg, mixed raw vegetables, and a handful of walnuts, sliced grapes, and a sprinkling of your favorite cheese. Complete with whole grain crackers and sliced melon.
- Grilled salmon: Bring last night's leftover grilled salmon to work for lunch with a side of sautéed vegetables and wild rice. Complete with a plain Greek yogurt, some strawberries, and a small handful of nuts.
- Tuna salad: Seasoned low-mercury tuna salad served with raw veggies and whole wheat pita bread. Complete with a side of cottage cheese and sliced strawberries and a cool glass of low-sodium vegetable juice.