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Truth or Trend: Do lemons help with digestion?

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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Lemons have been used for years in cooking to add acidity to foods, but is there actually a health benefit to using lemons in your food regularly? According to this social media post below, yes. The post alleges that lemons are a key to improving digestion due to their pH.

But, let’s stop there and explore whether or not there’s any truth to this claim.

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Did u know this! @mealplans #mealplans

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First of all, yes, lemons are acidic and have a low pH, and our gastric fluids or stomach acid is also acidic with a normal pH range being 1.5-3.5. So, lemons and our gastric juices do have similar pHs, and the acidity of stomach acid is vital for correct digestion processes. Thus, one might think lemons would be great to eat every day to keep our stomach acidic and digestion flowing,

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However, it’s not common for stomach acid to get out of normal range. Our bodies have a strong capability to maintain homeostasis, meaning if things get outside “normal” levels, our bodies will try to correct it from within. If your stomach acid is not in the normal range, that could be indicative of other health conditions that lemons may not be able to cure.

Take-Away: Continue to use lemons in your foods for acidity, flavor, and color, or if you really enjoy eating them—they do count as a serving of fruit! But, there is no need to force yourself to add more lemons to your diet for digestive purposes. Our bodies work hard to keep us stable, and if your gastric juices are out of range, visiting your doctor is the only thing that will help.

Becca is an Ohio native and University of Cincinnati graduate who works as a traveling consultant dietitian and is currently living in Juneau, Alaska. She owns Centum Cento Fitness LLC a company dedicated to using evidenced based practice to help empower clients to build sustainable and healthy lifestyles through nutrition and fitness.

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: Does “detox water” really work?

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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Water, H20, aqua: the most basic of necessities for human life. Water is a vital part of many bodily functions, including removal of waste products, but can we make water even “better” for us as a “detox water?"

Simple answer: no.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1F2t7Vg91U/?igshid=9icqe17xmslg

H20, i.e. two hydrogen atoms connected to an oxygen atom, is the chemical identity of water. This specific formation is what separates it from other molecules, and makes it the most vital substance to human existence.

Soaking things in your water like ginger, cinnamon, or cucumbers can alter the taste but will not chemically alter the structure. Water infusions like the ones listed in the post above can taste great, but water is still H20 and will function as such.

That being said, water infusions are not bad; in fact if you’re struggling to meet your daily intake, water infusions are often an idea I suggest to patients and clients. Mixing up the flavors can bring water can elevate the flavor, making it easier to drink throughout the day!

Take-away: Don’t let social media tell you water can be changed to a magical detox; water is already an amazing life giving drink. Instead, use social media for inspiration for trying a new tasty drink that might help you get the adequate hydration you’ve been struggling to get!

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: 30 Day Challenges

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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@DietBetch, a popular Instagram account with over 213k followers, tends to post memes that subtly poking fun at our diet culture. But recently, I was disappointed to see a post about a "30 Day Challenge" that reinforces the unhealthy, fad diet-obsessed world we live in.

This "30 Day Challenge" prohibits participants from consuming foods that many people often associate with being “unhealthy” like soda, candy, and doughnuts.

As a dietitian, I’m not going to disagree that the foods listed do tend to be higher in nutrients of concerns—like added sugars and salt, and overall calories—but, I absolutely believe they can be part of a balanced diet.

By completely removing foods from the diet with a 30 Day Challenge like this, one will simply think, “No…for this month." This purge-style challenge won't teach healthy sustainable eating habits like intuitive eating or portion control.

Take-away: Instead of tagging a friend for a restrictive diet challenge that doesn’t set either of you up for long-term success, try implementing a small sustainable change. Maybe instead of going out for fast food every day of the workweek with a friend, you both could try packing once a week and share recipes and meal ideas!

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: “His” vs “Her” portions

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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It’s not uncommon to scroll through Instagram and see beautiful plates of food labeled “his” and “hers.” Typically the “his” plate is larger in all portions of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

But, this depiction of portioning is inaccurate and can be damaging to the way women satisfy their hunger.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmBjeBnB5jb/

Gender does not determine the quantity of food people “should” eat. From a science perspective, there are so many variables that affect metabolic rates that are not specific to sex, such as amount of muscle mass, fat mass, location of these deposits, physical activity, and more. 

For example, a very active, self-identified woman with high lean body mass can have significantly higher maintenance caloric needs compared to a more sedentary male identifying person. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxnh7yaFftA/

Take-away: Don’t let social media tell you that gender determines the amount you deserve to eat. Listen to your body and your hunger cues. Fuel your body for what you need!

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