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Beauty Beverage: Water and Tea

Beauty Beverage: Water
Every system in the body depends on water. About 70 percent of our body weight is water. Our blood is about 85 percent water. Our muscles are about 75 percent water. Even 20 percent of our bones is water. This helps explain why we can live for weeks without food, but only days without water.

Drinking enough water keeps us hydrated from the inside out and helps keep our skin healthy, soft, smooth, and glowing. Water plays a key role in maintaining skin’s elasticity and suppleness. It is the cheapest moisturizer around. I find that when my skin is hydrated, wrinkles are less noticeable, and my skin looks more plump.

Our kidneys and liver work hard to get rid of toxins in our bodies, and they depend on water to do their job. Additionally, water regulates our body temperature, keeps our joints lubricated, helps prevent infections, and carries nutrients to our cells.

Drinking water keeps you slim, and if you are looking to lose weight, water can help you shed pounds. Water has zero calories, so choose it over soda or juice. Drink it before each meal and it will curb your appetite and make you feel full. Interestingly, research has revealed that water-rich foods like salads, vegetables, and soups can also help you lose weight. Consuming these foods before you eat helps you consume fewer calories overall during a meal.

Bottled or filtered water is cleaner and therefore better for our bodies. The filtration process eliminates contaminants such as pollutants, parasites that cause illness (Cryp- tosporidium and Giardia), and toxic metals such as lead and mercury. I also recommend drinking filtered water because of the taste. Filters can reduce chlorine and remove bad taste or odors, so your water is much more refreshing and palatable.

The Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academy of Sciences) recommends that women aim for 11 8-ounce cups of fluids, and men for 15½ cups—but this includes all beverages and water-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables, and soups. In general, one quart of water is needed daily for every 50 pounds of body weight.

Most people can use their thirst as a guide, except for older adults and those who exercise, because the thirst mechanism doesn’t work optimally for these two groups. As you age, your sense of thirst diminishes. Also, when you exercise intensely, you can lose fluids so quickly that your brain doesn’t have enough time to alert you to drink more. In that case, drink even when you’re not necessarily thirsty.

Water is the number-one calorie-free drink that does wonders for your health. It purifies your system and keeps the cells in your body filled with nutrients. Water not only helps your internal organs perform at its best—safeguarding you from many diseases—but also works externally by providing moisture to your skin and ensuring a bright and radiant glow.

To help you get your quota of water each day:
* Drink a glass of water as soon as you get up.
* Every morning, fill a 64-ounce (or larger) container with water for the day.
* When you drink all the water in the container, you have met your daily water requirement.
* Drink water before and after meals and snacks.
* Add slices of lemon, lime, or orange to water for a hint of flavor.
* Eat more soup.
* Enjoy water breaks instead of coffee or tea breaks.
* Take a water bottle with you to work and when running errands. Definitely remember to bring water when you’re taking an airplane flight, as the air in the cabin is drying.
* Keep a mug of water on your desk to sip as you work at the computer.
* Whenever you pass a water fountain, stop and take a drink.
* At social gatherings, substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks, alternate them, or choose drinks that include water, club soda, or tonic.

Beauty Beverage: Green Tea
Green tea is a multipurpose drink that is a great substitute for coffee, giving you a caffeine kick while at the same time offering you a generous dose of powerful beauty agents. This calorie-free and antioxidant-rich wonder drink helps protect your skin from the dangerous effects of the sun, giving you a wrinkle-free, smooth complexion.

Green tea is the only tea that contains a significant amount of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). (Both green and black tea have about eight times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables, but green tea, unlike black and oolong tea, is not fermented, so the active ingredients remain unaltered.) This wonder nutrient hunts for celldamaging free radicals in the body and detoxifies them. The potential health benefits of EGCG include improved cardiovascular health, enhanced weight loss, and protection from the damage caused by ultraviolet light. Increased consumption of green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder cancers.

While I recommend consuming green tea for its health and beauty benefits, green tea can be applied topically too. One recent study from the University of Alabama notes that topical treatment of green tea polyphenols and EGCG or oral consumption of green tea polyphenols resulted in prevention of UVB-induced inflammatory responses, immunosuppression and oxidative stress, the biomarkers of several skin diseases.

This article points out that green tea polyphenols are photoprotective in nature and that green tea may help prevent solar UVB light–induced skin disorders, including photoaging, melanoma, and nonmelanoma skin cancers. In another recent study by Jennifer Gan-Wong, M.D., a topical green tea cream was tested against a 4 percent benzoyl peroxide solution on people with moderate to severe acne. The results from the study revealed that green tea was just as effective in treating acne as the benzoyl peroxide.

Last, green tea may help keep you slim. In a weight-loss study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at the effects of green tea catechins on body fat reduction and weight loss. Study participants were divided into two groups. For three months, the first group drank a bottle of oolong tea fortified with green tea extract containing 690 milligrams of catechins, and the other group drank a bottle of oolong tea with 22 milligrams of catechins.

Other elements in their diets were kept constant. After three months, the study showed that those who drank the green tea extract lost more weight (5.3 pounds vs. 2.9 pounds) and experienced a significantly greater decrease in body mass index (BMI), waist size, and total body fat. Also, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol went down in the participants who drank the green tea extract. Researchers concluded that catechins in green tea not only help burn calories and lower LDL cholesterol but may also help reduce body fat. Now get ready to learn about feeding your features for more beautiful skin, hair, nails, teeth, and eyes.

The “Dirty Dozen”
All produce offers nutrients that can enhance beauty, but unfortunately some fruits and vegetables are particularly susceptible to contamination from pesticides, making them less desirable than others. The following list was compiled by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based lobbying and advocacy organization, and was based on nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004. These fruits and vegetables have thin skins that make it easier for pesticides to penetrate. Pregnant women and children under two should choose organic versions of these foods when available.

1. Peaches (highest pesticide load)
2. Apples
3. Sweet bell peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Lettuce
9. Imported grapes
10. Pears
11. Spinach

The good news is that some produce is consistently cleaner— the clean dozen! The thicker skins on this group of produce are tough for pesticides to penetrate.

1. Onions (lowest pesticide load)
2. Avocados
3. Sweet corn (frozen)
4. Pineapples
5. Mangoes
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Bananas
10. Cabbage
11. Broccoli
12. Eggplant

Organic strawberries and corn appear to have higher levels of antioxidants than their conventional counterparts, according to a recent study. Another study found that organic produce has higher levels of vitamins and minerals—specifically vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. More studies need to be performed, however, before definitive conclusions on the nutritional status of organically grown foods can be drawn.

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