Facts about drinking water

Hi, recently I compiled a series of interesting information about drinking water, which you may find useful especially during summer.

 

Water is the most abundant substance in our bodies (~60%) needed for digestion, temperature regulation, tissue protection, metabolic processes, electrical impulse conduction and joint lubrication. WHO stated that every single day, about 6 thousand children die due to a lack of access to drinking water.

Planned drinking vs drinking to thirst?

If you exercise in cooler conditions with low intensity, then it’s enough to drink to thirst. When you exercise with high intensity, in warm environments or your sweat rate is high you should plan drinking. The sensation of thirst works well at rest but is less sensitive during exercise. Dehydration starts from losing >2% of body mass and it’s worth noting that some people may feel rested and not thirsty after intense exercise even when they lost 3-4% of body mass (1).

 

How much water should you drink?

Scientists are divided in that matter. A Dutch publication says that under normal circumstances, about 500ml of fluids/day will be excreted as urine or sweat. They also admit that males should drink 3,000ml and females 2,200ml per day, while higher fluid intake has no convincing benefits. Other scientists say that thirst drives us to drink at least 2L of water/day (2) and drinking more than thirst does not produce any biological advantage. Other sources indicated 8 glasses of water/day to be the best measure of optimal hydration levels. It’s worth mentioning that fluid intake takes into account water, not coffee or sugary drinks, which should increase the amount of liquids needed (as all carbohydrates do).

 

Good indicators of good hydration is the lack of thirst and passing bright-coloured not smelling urine. You should adjust your water intake levels to your weight, lifestyle, activity level, sex and the atmospheric conditions.

Dehydration effects on your brain.

It may appear extremely abstract, but it’s possible to dehydrate your brain since it needs a substantial amount of fluids in order to work properly.

Did you know that dehydration affects your mood? This may be a reason why you hit a snooze button every morning instead of getting up with fully charged batteries. When mildly dehydrated you are also more sensitive to pain (3).

 

It also decreases your cognitive and motor skills as well as memory. Driving under influence is a criminal offence but it has been proven that dehydrated driving may be even more dangerous (4).

 

Tap or bottled water?

In case of water quality, drinkable tap water and bottled water do not differ (and very often the former one is simply a tap water anyway). Arguments such as “bottled water contains pesticides and hormone-like substances” don’t work. Why? Because tap water has similar amount of pesticides plus the unfiltered left-overs of excreted medications containing hormone-like substances. Tap water is more eco-friendly as plastic bottles clutter our planet for hundreds of years and in order to produce one of them, 3L of water are used. Also it’s worth remembering that once we open the bottle, we should store it in cold temperatures to avoid bacteria growing inside it and harmful substances from plastic being released into water. It looks like tap water may be not only more ecological but also less contaminated.

 

Is it possible to overhydrate?

In theory it is, nevertheless anyone with healthy kidneys should be able to deal with that problem by walking to toilet more often. People who are most likely to suffer from overhydration (and low sodium levels = hyponatraemia) are endurance athletes, who are advised to drink according to their sweat levels. The sign of water retention is swollen ankles. Most people who drink a lot of water go to toilet more frequently and experience no other symptoms or negative effects of over-drinking.

What about other scientific sources which say you should drink more?

Some organisations recommend 2.7-3.7L of liquid consumption which counts in water from foods and other drinks.

 

5 quick tips for staying hydrated this summer:

  • Always have a sip when you feel thirsty. Don’t delay your response to your body craving water. Flavour it with fruits, mint, ginger and cucumber.
  • Every time you put the kettle on, have a glass of water prior to making tea.
  • This summer I recommend AKASHA BPA free, stainless steel insulated and lightweight reusable bottles which allow you to hold hot drinks up to 12hours and cold for 24hours. Using code MOTIVELINA you will get 15% discount at https://www.weakasha.co.uk/. In addition, on my IG account [@motivelina.com] you can win a free bottle by taking a part in my competition.
  • When you are at a restaurant or a bar, ask for a glass of water together with your order, it will help your digestion and keep you hydrated.
  • Don’t spend fortune – VOSS is just a tap water from Norway.

If you liked this post, please like and share it so your friends can also benefit from this knowledge 🙂

Can we get high on beauty products?

This blog post is an answer for @_jess_stranger_ ‘s question regarding the use CBD (Cannaboidol) oil in cosmetic industry, which is a big boom in USA, since nine states and Washington legalised the use of recreational marijuana. Jess is worried that the industry pulls our leg advertising the amazing effects of CBD-based oils creams or lotions, while in reality chopping the plants off for no reason. This is a very important and valid question, thus I decided to do a little research to answer this question from a scientist’s point of view.

 

By the way –  Jess is a documentarian with an amazing writing style and great photography skills. She presents interesting places and people showing their stories and what can we learn from them. There is many bloggers out there, but only a few great content creators and Jess is definitely one of them. Check out her blog https://learningfromstrangers.com/ and get immersed into her world. Learn from strangers!

 

This post may not apply to all readers since most of the European countries ban the use of marijuana. Nevertheless, its legalisation is probably going to be an inevitable process in future, so don’t worry – I will remind you about this post when this time comes!

CBD what’s that?

CBD is one of maaaany (113) ingrediencies of cannabis which binds to cannabinoid receptors in our brain affecting the neurotransmitter release. It does not have psychoactive effects like THC [=does not get you high], but may have an impact in relieving stress and anxiety, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, however research has not proven any significant positive influence yet. Last year’s review (1) shows, that CBD also affects hormones but not enough clinical trials have been conducted to asses the effective does, it’s administration and possible toxicological side effects. It appears that the chemical is much more potent in mice than humans too. It’s difficult to find the right drug concentration, since CBD may bind to other receptors in our brain showing completely different psychological outcomes, thus generally it is not a well-researched medical substance to date.

 

New celebs trick

Scientists are still checking drug-like abilities of cannabidiol when beauty industry already jumped on this topic calling CBD a miracle ingredient! They advertise CBD oil as a painkiller, mood improver, anti-inflammatory and anti-acne substance. They are sold as oral tablets – for indigestions or stomach aches or topical creams and lotions – for skin problems and inflammation. Obviously, celebrities have been hooked already and swear by it as much as by vitamin IV drips (which also should be taken with a pinch of salt). Should we follow new trends, or shall we look at dry facts? Let’s look at the facts first.

 

Apparently, CBD oil is brilliant for the red-carpet events because it relieves the pain from wearing high heels. People also use it for sore muscles after gym workouts or chronic joint pains. That could be true, nevertheless isolated CBD was shown to be a weak pain-reliever and the amount of the active ingredient needed for it to work exceeds what you could find in a CBD lotion. The anti-acne properties were studied only in cannabis as a whole, so it may be that many cannabis ingredients combined reduce sebum production making our skin less inflamed. Nobody knows and it hasn’t been studied whether CBD itself is going to do anything.

 

CBD+THC

Cannabis mainly consists of CBD and THC and those two substances combined are potentially a very good psychotherapeutic drug and a pain killer. The downside is THC makes you get high which is not what you want from a lotion, thus beauty industry is limited to CBD oil usage only. CBD itself may not give you any skin care or fitness soreness benefits because most likely it needs a company of THC to be fully activated. There are studies showing uselessness pure CBD (2) and most importantly there are no studies testing the effects in beauty industry [check THIS out], thus nothing that the companies are promising is backed up by scientific experiments. They can only rely on theory and medical research, which is also not detailed enough to form any meaningful conclusions.

What if…

If you look at the main advertised effects of CBD – helps indigestion, inflammation, anxiety, pain and soreness – these all effects are very often correlated with a placebo effect. Human brain is a very complicated machinery and placebo is still a big question mark in many drug development processes, because it’s extremely difficult to differentiate the effects of a drug from placebo in digestive or anxiety problems and pain management. Cannabis has been a hot topic for years, some communities stigmatise it, other worship, so we were exposed to the magic word “cannabis” many times in the past. Sorry for bursting the bubble, but it may well be that the socio-political tension and semi-legal status of cannabis adds to the placebo effect of CBD oil. Our perception of hardly attainable product unconsciously primes us to believe in its sophisticated properties it may never even have.  (If you want to learn more about placebo effect, I recommend this book.)

 

Final conclusion

In order to asses efficacy of CBD in medical treatment and beauty products we need more clinical trials and more research showing measurable evidence. The current status is vague, pointing out on potential uses but no dosage and side or long-term effects. Let’s wait few more years before buying things which may not work. There are many beauty products which have been proven effective already.  If you want to find out more about skin care products, read my post on anti-ageing creams.

 

If you found this post interesting, hit like button and share it with your friends. By doing so you will help to promote my blog and allow me to reach wider audience. Thank you!

 

 

P.S.  For more on this topic and many more – visit Seeking Science blog created by passionate scientists like me 🙂

Do anti-ageing creams work?

 

 

 

There is no ready recipe for a magic anti-ageing potion but researchers know quite a lot about ageing processes already. Let’s dive in and find out what’s out there!

 

do anti-ageing creams work

Skin – the largest organ of our body has a total area of 20ft2 playing central role in protecting our bodies from outside environment. Ageing is a natural process caused by extrinsic (pollution, UV radiation, exposure to toxic chemicals) and intrinsic (genetics, hormone levels, metabolism) factors. Collectively all of these influence skin physically and physiologically changing its appearance, especially affecting the most visible outer layer (layers of skin are explained here) .

 

Market is oversaturated with the cosmetics which meant to make your face look like a 18-year old overnight. Unfortunately, most of them don’t work. If you intend to spend your money on a product which works, see what science says about:

 

1) Collagen.

It is a protein which makes up about 30% of our body with most of it being in our skin. The collagen content in our skin decreases on average by 1% per year, what causes wrinkles and overall ‘dryness’ of a skin. If you plan to battle your wrinkles with a cream containing collagen – you are looking in a wrong direction. Collagen applied directly on your skin is too large to be absorbed into further skin layers. A cream which has collagen fibres in it may make your skin look nice and soft for the time when its applied, while it won’t fill you wrinkles. Take a step back. What you need is a cream which will encourage your skin to produce collagen itself! It will contain growth factors and cytokines promoting elastin and collagen synthesis. If you read the labels, the creams containing a lot of confusing words ended with “peptide”, TGF-β1, IL-6/8 or matrikines will be definitely a better choice than the ones with “glycerine, silk extract and collagen-alpha”.

2) Stem cells.

There is absolutely tons of creams with stem cells which promise you instant skin restoration after first application. It is all a massive marketing lie. Stem cells enclosed in the jars are simply dead plant-based cells which while placed on your skin will have the same effect as if you put a wooden chopping board or a spoon on your chick and keep it overnight. Plant stem cells wouldn’t work on human skin even if they were alive. I promise you nothing is going to happen. Medical stem cell therapy works because a nurse is taking your blood, filtrating everything but plasma and stem cells and injecting them back in you precisely where the inflammation or other problems arose. These were your own stem cells, still alive and administered in a careful, antiseptic way. What in turn creams have to offer are floating dead cells in a white jelly-like liquid applied on the surface of your skin.

Don’t waste your money.

3) Vitamin C.

It is a very powerful antioxidant (a substance which fights ageing and cancer by mopping up reactive oxygen species) and the most abundant one in our skin. It works synergistically with vitamin E and both are often combined in facial creams. It is protective against photo-ageing caused by UV radiation and is essential for collagen biosynthesis. Taking vitamin C orally allows only a small fraction of it to reach the skin, so it sounds perfect to use it in a from of a cream. However, there is not enough research on vit. C formulations for its topical application. We know it works but we have little knowledge how to enclose vitamin C in a cream formula, so it gets absorbed well (rather than simply dry out on the surface on our skin overnight).

do anti-ageing creams work

4) Hyaluronic acid (HA).

One of the features of ageing is loss of moisture. HA is a molecule which is brilliant in retaining water. It is a component of extracellular matrix (a scaffold for the cells) resulting in a soft, elastic skin. Studies show that HA is involved in a number of important cellular processes and its lack leads to carcinogenesis and immune system malfunction. Skin HA is quickly degraded (with half-life of about 2 weeks) and accounts for 50% of total body HA. Studies on 4 widely known brands of creams with HA show that the depth of wrinkles is significantly decreased after 3 months of daily use. That’s a good sign, nevertheless we need more detailed studies on the concentration of HA and its efficacy in order to find the best cream.

5) Coenzyme Q10.

It is another antioxidant which production decreases with age. It is the only anti-aging ingredient (from the ones presented in this post) which has been proven to improve skin condition when administered topically and orally. Nevertheless, there is one study from 2009 showing that long-term oral intake of Q10 impairs cognitive function in mice. Remember about it when balancing your dietary supplements.

do anti-ageing creams work

I encourage you to read the labels of the cosmetic products so you know what you are paying for.

 

Important!

The best you can do to look young is to eat heathy diet- rich in vitamins A, E, C and other antioxidants and microelements. Stay away from highly-processed foods, thus these have no nutritional value but a lot of calories and trans-fats. Most importantly – DRINK A LOT OF WATER. It’s free and doesn’t have any side effects! It’s best to ensure you are drinking enough before spending money on night creams!

 

Learn and share knowledge with others! Please share this post if you found it useful 🙂

If you are interested in cosmetics and skincare products, I recommend reading The Little Book of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho explaining South Korean skin care routines, which applied to our western world works wonders! The Little Book of Skin Care By Charlotte Cho 9780062416384 (Hardback)(click)

For more sources, click here:

Anti-aging: 123

Collagen: 1

Vitamin C: 1, 2

HA: 1, 2

Q10: 1, 2, 3, 4

Let’s end the war on GMO! 1.GMO concerns

This post is the first one of my new educational series “Let’s end the war on GMO” where I will be explaining different aspects of Genetically Modified Organisms, their usage and hopefully clarify some of the uncertainties which arose online.

This week, let’s end the war on… GM foods!

Recently, I’ve seen a water bottle labelled with three signs – safe for babies, vegan and non-GMO. I could probably agree with the first one. But I laughed out loud when I noticed the other two symbols. Vegan water – as far as I am concerned, you can’t water a cow (correct me if I’m wrong). Finally, the Non-GMO sign made me (cry) think – if marketing specialist use NON-GMO signs on water, it means, that people have no clue what GMOs are. I’m here to talk to you about it!

GMO:

  • Gives you cancer
  • Induces allergy
  • Is contaminated with viruses
  • Causes autism
  • Accelerates ageing

These are only some of the ‘reasons to avoid GM foods’ freely floating between google searches.  It is worth noting, that none of these so-called reasons are backed up by scientific publications or any references. As a scientist, I have an obligation to educate the general public about controversial or unpopular topics, so that informed people can make their own responsible choices regarding their diet.

Let’s have a deal. I will show you the facts about GMO, and you will decide what to believe yourself, alright?

What are Genetically Modified Organisms?

Nothing ‘gives you cancer’, something can only increase your risk of cancer. But it is not GMO. WHO has a really good definition of GMO:

GMO can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination. The technology is often called “modern biotechnology” or “gene technology”, sometimes also “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering”. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between nonrelated species. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as GM foods.

Nowadays scientists are able to manipulate DNA in a very specific way, thus a process which would take 1000 years through the natural breeding techniques is achievable within one generation of the living organism. Also, some valuable features (genes) may be suitable to transfer from one species to another. However scary it sounds, it does only because science sounds complicated. Complicated does not mean bad for you. It means – you need to make an effort to understand it. Please, do not take media as your main source of scientific information – question what you hear or read.

  1. GMO and cancer.

People say, that DNA from a GM tomato binds with our DNA and ‘gives us cancer’. It is simply impossible. We eat DNA of plants and animals (and bacteria!) every day. DNA is a fairly weak (deoxyribonucleic) acid, which gets broken into small pieces very quickly. Those pieces are not able to mutate our DNA. Different molecules obtained from digested foods do build our DNA strands, but only in an ordered way, not invading it. GM vegetables will have altered DNA but it does not change the fact, that its genetic material is broken down in our guts as non-modified ones (1 and 2)

  1. GMO and allergies

There is a concern, that the additional or altered genes within GM crops may induce immune responses in human bodies (ie. allergy). All GM foods are tested backwards and forwards thousand times before they enter the market. Researchers make sure, the plant is as safe as possible before it lands on your plate.

  1. GMO and antibiotic resistance

Many years ago, there was a risk that GM crops could be bearing antibiotic resistance genes within their DNA, which could potentially (but very unlikely) be transferred into our gut bacteria and (maybe) in result affect our health (3 and 4). Now, the approved GM foods do not have antibiotic resistance genes as their markers, thus it is impossible to make little X-mens from our little gastrointestinal guests.

  1. GMO and pollution

The word ‘pollution’ is very unfortunate in here. It makes people think GM seeds are negatively impacting their health as air or water pollutants. Generally, the farmers want to avoid mixing non-GM crops with GM ones from obvious reasons – food needs to be appropriately labelled and any possible side-effects of cultivating new crops identified. Studies show there is a very low risk of mixing genes between GM and non-GM species, since countries developed strategies to reduce outcrossing (and 6)Any old-style GM crops which were responsible for heavy metal ions aggregation were identified years ago, destroyed and the soil was cleaned from all ‘contamination’. (7)

  1. Ordinary vs GM foods

GM foods are as nutritious as the ordinary ones. Moreover, some of them (like soybeans) were modified to increase their nutritional value. Plants were genetically engineered so they are easier (and cheaper) to grow by farmers, to make them resistant to herbicides, pests or to even their size. A good example of this is a freeze-resistant and insect-resistant maize. It used to be frost sensitive but now can be grown in the cooler climates. (8) The livestock is fed with a lot of corn; thus, the GM maize can sustain the agricultural demands for crops. More examples of GMO saving lives in the next post, so stay tuned!

And remember: Do not get fooled by the pictures of apples with needles stuck in them.

Image result for apple needle

These pictures meant to manipulate you to think, that GMO are treated with large amounts of some chemical substances before they are given to you – the customers. This is not how scientists modify plants! It happens on the cellular level – at the nucleus of the cell within a seed, not a fully-grown apple. Modern techniques (such as CRISPR-Cas9) allow the changes to be done in a very specific, subtle way, so there is no need for a syringe or any dodgy substances to be added.

To conclude, nowadays the scientists are able to tackle the problems and issues regarding long-term effects of GM crops. (9) Each seed coming from a laboratory is checked backwards and forwards multiple times and we know about them more than we probably ever will about the ‘organic’ foods. To finish off, I have got for you a great quotation from James Watson’s book called ‘DNA The Secret of Life’ (click the title to check it out)

“There are more rodent carcinogens in one cup of coffee than pesticide residues you get in a year. (…) So it just shows our double standard: If it’s synthetic we really freak out, and if it’s natural we forget about it.”

~ James Watson

In the next post of this series, Motivelina will show you the most interesting examples of GM foods and their impact on the environment and the society.

What are your thoughts about GMO after reading this post? Share your thoughts with me!

Ewelina

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