Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Drinking for Life

One of the first things you'll hear when your doctor diagnoses you with heart palpitations is to cut out all caffeine. Some people even claim once they cut out coffee, they never had any heart problems again. I had never been a huge coffee or Coke drinker so I knew I couldn't blame caffeine on all my heart palpitations, but I knew it contributed to some. I remember when I was in college, I loved getting a cafe au lait from a local coffee shop. Well, it took one night of experiencing the dance in my heart and I swore I would never drink coffee again. And I haven't. I also try to stay away from soft drinks but I do sip an occasional one for special occasions. But my rules are never drink a Coke when I'm experiencing high levels of stress or late at night. We were in the midst of packing up our apartment and moving into our first home and we knew it was going to be a long night before we had everything ready for the movers. I remember it was a little after midnight, I was worn out from teaching that day, and I thought it would be a good idea to get a little energy boost by drinking a Coke. I guzzled it down and no sooner had I just put the empty can down when my heart paused and let out a hard THUMP. I was tired, I was stressed, and I had just consumed caffeine. Not a good combination.

Another thing that is usually recommended is to eliminate alcohol. I try to limit my alcohol consumption to a small glass of red wine (since it's suppose to be good for your heart) once a week or so. I also like to reward myself for working out and staying healthy with an occasional mixed drink. But that's all. Of course, if you notice heart palpitations after drinking alcohol, put the drinks away.

Previously I mentioned that one of the things I do when I start getting palpitations is to immediately drink a glass of water. A lot of times we are dehydrated and don't even know it. And you've heard it time after time, but I'll repeat it. Make sure you are getting the recommended amounts of water every day, especially in the summer. "Eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day" is a good rule of thumb.

Alternatives to water? While sugar IS something you want to minimize, I would choose small amounts of natural sugar any day, over foods sweetened with high fructose corny syrup or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose (Equal, Nutrasweet, Sweetn'Low, Splenda, etc). The following are some healthy alternatives to water. If you have other suggestions, let me know, as I love trying new healthy drinks.

-Water with lime or lemon or cucumber.
-Decaffeinated hot or iced tea with honey, agave nectar, or lemon
-Green teas (even if you choose decaf you'll still experience some of the healthy antioxidant benefits)
-Smoothies: My favorite recipe is very simple. 1/4 cup apple juice, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup blueberries (or other favorite fruit), 1 scoop (10 mg) whey protein powder (vanilla flavored). Blend together and enjoy. This is a perfect snack because it contains 1 block of protein and 1 block of carbohydrates.
-Vegetable juices (Hey Mom, my taste buds are finally tolerating these!)
-Fruit juices (but I always dilute them with at least 50% water)
-Fizzy water (or in Italy it's known as "con fizz") such as Pellegrino