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Drink Water, Feel Better
We know that severe dehydration can kill, with early signs of serious dehydration including confusion and delirium. Even moderate dehydration has been shown to interfere with thinking processes. The studies that have investigated mild to moderate dehydration have used high temperatures as well as exercise to induce sweating enough to cause dehydration.

Mediterranean Diet Good for More Than Your Physical Health
If you've been following Dr. Gourmet for a while you know that following a Mediterranean-style Diet can help reduce your risk of many chronic diseases, from heart disease to cancer, and help you manage or improve such conditions as diabetes and poor cholesterol scores.

Walk Your Way to Better Health
Walking is a simple, low-impact exercise that you can do to improve your health and fitness. No instruction manual is needed, and a walking coach will not be necessary. Walking is one of the first natural exercises that you learn to do from a young age. Therefore, you should be a walking professional at this point in your life. 


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Healthier and Happier

We've seen that low levels of dehydration can affect people's mood - causing higher levels of anger or hostility, fatigue, and feeling that a given task is more difficult to perform (Bite, 2/29/12). Following a Mediterranean-style diet also appears to be good for your mood, improving feelings of contentedness, vigor and alertness (Bite, 1/19/11).

A recent study published in the journal Nutrition suggests that a diet with moderate levels of sodium may also have a positive effect on your mood (2012;28(9):896-900).

Australian researchers recruited 95 postmenopausal women to participate in a 14-week diet study. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two diets: a "Vitality Diet" which was a standard DASH diet enriched with a daily serving of lean red meat, or a "Healthy Diet," which focused on lower fat, higher complex carbohydrates, and limiting red meat intake. The Vitality Diet had higher targets for fruit and vegetable intake than the Healthy Diet: four servings of each were the recommendation versus only 2 each for the Healthy Diet.

The women kept a food diary throughout the study and responded to weekly standardized questionnaires designed to assess their mood. Urine tests measured the women's sodium and potassium intake, so that the researchers knew that the Vitality Diet group was meeting their lower sodium targets while the Healthy Diet group's sodium levels remained the same as at the start of the study.

The researchers found that all of the participants' overall mood scores improved over the course of the 14 weeks of the study. But there were two very interesting differences between the two groups: first, the measured levels of anger in the Vitality Diet group decreased more than in the Healthy Diet group, and the higher levels of meat intake in the Vitality Diet group seemed to lead to lower levels of confusion and depression.

What this means for you

The researchers note that it is difficult to show causality between diet and mood, but this is by no means that only study finding a link between mood and diet. What's clear is that a diet that includes more vegetables and fruit and a moderate level of sodium can help keep you happier as well as healthier.

First posted: July 4, 2012