On Your Mind... Water, Whiskey, and Prepping for Surgery

One thing that keeps the Health & Wealth Bulletin team going each week is seeing an inbox full of your questions.

And that's exactly what we've been seeing lately... It's more than we've been able to keep up with. So today, we're making more space to get straight into some of the topics on your mind.

As always, keep sending us your questions, comments, and topic suggestions. We read every e-mail... [email protected].

Q: Someone I know gave up drinking soda and fruit juices and has taken up drinking seltzer. They drink the plain as well as flavored seltzer but with no sugar added and zero calories. Does carbonation have any adverse effect on the body?

Thank you for your thoughts. – T.P.

A: Over the past several years, we've seen a considerable uptick in the number of people in our lives and around the office who now drink sparkling water. Many of those folks turned to sparkling water to kick a soda habit.

We've gotten three big questions regarding the health of sparkling water: Does the carbonation affect gastro health, does it make you hungrier, and can it erode tooth enamel?

Carbonation doesn't appear to have an effect on the health of your stomach, esophagus, or intestines... One large review of studies published in 2009 in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases showed that many studies offer conflicting evidence, but there's simply no solid evidence yet that carbonation affects our gut.

In fact, we read one 2012 study indicating that women who drank carbonated water had better satiety than those who drank plain water after a workout. The researchers state they believe it comes from increased gastric activities from the carbonation. In other words, the carbonated water helps you feel full.

Another big concern? What sparkling water does to your teeth. Contrary to popular belief, carbonated beverages don't affect your teeth by wearing away enamel... It's the added sources of acid that do it.

The more acidic a drink is – whether it's from the added flavoring in soda or the citrus oils added to sparkling water – the more it can affect your teeth. Anything below a pH of four is erosive to your teeth... Soda is about a three. One 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that more than 90% of flavored waters had a pH below four.

That doesn't mean you need to give up flavored sparkling water if you want to keep your teeth healthy. But limit how much you drink to prevent the acid wearing down your tooth enamel. I recommend no more than a couple drinks a day. And if you skip the additives, drink as much of the stuff as you want.

Q: I have long known the benefits of wine, but this is the first time on whiskey. How much whiskey are we talking about, and can it be mixed with water or something else? I can't imagine drinking whiskey straight. – E.E.

A: It's important to note that although whiskey has polyphenols, they aren't at the level you'll find in wine or beer. So if you're choosing between whiskey and wine, go with wine.

But if you like whiskey, enjoy a glass (about one and a half ounces) every few days and rest assured you are getting some health benefits. Otherwise, continue to enjoy your beer or wine... and maybe add a bit of whiskey once in a while, too.

If you aren't used to the strong stuff, here's my advice: Add a big splash of Coca-Cola. It adds some sweetness and a little fizz to soften the harshness. If you want to avoid cola, ask for a splash or two of water instead to dilute the flavor. It's like "training wheels" for a novice whiskey drinker.

Q: Doc & Team... I have enjoyed reading the Health & Wealth Bulletin for many years and have found it very helpful to many aspects of my life.

Well, despite years of drinking green tea, I am now diagnosed with prostate cancer and am lining up for a robotic radical prostatectomy in six weeks. My overall health otherwise is very good. I live an active lifestyle, which has helped me reduce my weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure over the last five years since retiring from a career in an "office job."

My question: What could/should I do during this time to be in my best position going into this surgery? It will require a single night stay in the hospital. The odds for this surgery are really good, but I want to do all I can to maximize them in my favor!

Thanks again for all your helpful work. – D.R.

A: First off, you didn't say how old you are... but given the fact you are "active" and smart (after all, you read our stuff)... I think it makes sense to get a second opinion before going in for surgery.

Most research has shown that surgical intervention is unnecessary for slow-growing prostate cancers, yet the medical establishment continues to line folks up for invasive surgery.

There are also other treatments like proton beam therapy, which you can now find at many centers of excellence around the U.S. This is a radiation process that successfully treats many patients' cancer while causing few side effects.

Also, as I'm sure you're aware... physical surgery has risks, drug therapy has risks, and radiation (X-ray and proton beam) has risks. Given the history of over-calling and cutting, if you have the ability to get a second opinion, I'd ask another doctor whether you need surgery at all. If you do need that type of aggressive treatment, I'd look into the proton beam therapies as a possibility.

Good luck, and please let us know!

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
June 11, 2021