Eight glasses a day? You might DIE, you fool!

Of all the foolish medical myths out there, the most dangerous is the one that claims we must drink eight glasses of water a day for good health.

The average glass of water is 200 to 300 ml. You have been led to believe that you must drink between 1.6 to 2.4 liters of water a day.

Are you mad? That much water can actually kill you. There is an enormous amount of medical research that has clearly and repeatedly shown that too much water can indeed kill you.

too much water.jpg


Why do you drink water?

Obviously, because your body needs it. Your body has to maintain a balance between its salts and water. The technical term is “osmomolarity”.

And how do you know when you should drink water?

Obviously, your body will tell you. To be more accurate, your brain will tell you. The sub-fornical organ is a specialised part of your brain that tells you when you need a drink of water. Your brain has a sophisticated and accurate mechanism for maintaining osmomolarity. You know it as Thirst.

And how do you know how much water is enough?

Once again, your brain will tell you. Just as the brain has a thirst mechanism, it also has an accurate inhibitory mechanism that tells you when enough is enough.

It’s called the swallowing inhibition response.

Simply put, you will find it difficult to swallow water after a certain point. At this point, stop drinking more water. Just stop.

Who came up with this eight-glasses-a-day crap anyway?

Well, there was a report published back in 1945 by the US Food and Nutrition Board that recommended a total water intake of 2.45 liters. Mind you, total water intake. That includes water from food, vegetables, fruits and beverages like coffee and tea. An apple for example, contains 86% water. A banana has 75% water. A cup of cooked rice about 65%. Rasam, sambar, most curries are 70% water. A cup of tea is 95% water. Even dry roasted peanuts contain 5% water.

Some manufacturer of bottled water misquoted this report, and started this ridiculous and dangerous myth about eight glasses a day.

There’s a more recent report by the US Food and Nutrition, published in 2005, that will give you every single detail you need to know about water intake, and more important, the real risks of drinking too much water.

You can download the entire report using the link I’ve given below.

What this means is that a normal adult who eats thrice a day and has two or more cups of tea or coffee, does not need more than three glasses of water a day.

Look at your urine. If it’s straw colored, you’re doing fine. If it’s dark yellow, drink a glass of water. If your urine is colorless, you’re in trouble. Don’t drink more water.

The health benefits of drinking eight glasses of water are: Zero.

Effect on skin: Nil
Effect on “toxins”: Nil
Effect on weight-loss: Nil.

On the other hand, the dangers of eight glasses of water:

Damage to kidneys: YES.
Increase in blood pressure: YES
Excessive strain on your heart: YES

By drinking eight glasses of water a day, you will lose too much sodium from your body. It’s called hyponatremia. And it is potentially fatal.

How about dehydration then?

Yes, dehydration can occur with severe diarrhoea, excessive sweating caused by heat, and some disease conditions. Elderly people sometimes forget to drink enough water. Only in such cases, and under medical advice, is higher water intake recommended.

So, I don’t need eight glasses a day?

For a normal adult, there is no medical justification for eight glasses of water a day. The health benefits are ZERO. The risks are very real.

Get this into your head: Too much water kills.

There are too many blogs and websites that rant about the “benefits” of overdrinking water. Please do not take medical advice from an unqualified, non-medical nitwit just because he/she has a stylish blog.

Educate yourself by talking to a doctor and by reading correct information from authentic sources. I’ve given some links at the bottom, to start you off. Do use them.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. As Nature intended.

Cheers … Srini.


Useful links:





The Great Weight-loss hoax – part 2

obesity-crop-187102.JPGUnderstand this:

Obesity is a medical condition. Like all other medical conditions, obesity needs medical attention. Period.

So, first and foremost, you must consult your primary healthcare provider.

Disregard all promotional hype about supplements or herbals. Remember, this stuff is not made by people who deeply care about your weight or your health. These are people who want your money.

That does not necessarily mean that all nutra-peddlers are dishonest. But it also means that they are not necessarily scrupulously honest.

You have a medical condition. You talk to a medical professional.

So what are my options?

If you’re a few kilos overweight, and below a BMI of 26 or so, then a sensible doctor would advise proper diet and exercise – and nothing more.

Dieting means eating smart, making the correct choices, and still eating well. Exercise does not mean huffing and puffing in a stinking, expensive gym. It means getting off your butt, getting into moderate aerobic and anaerobic workouts, and also workouts that improve your flexibility and balance, like hathayoga.

The first-line treatment for weight management has always been, and will always be, diet and exercise.obesity-crop-1920.JPG

Across the world, every single government agency that regulates public healthcare solidly endorses this line of treatment. Diet and exercise.

What if I’m really obese?

If you’re above BMI 27 and you have a family history of diabetes or coronary disease, you are morbidly obese. Don’t worry. Your doctor has several options:

1) Prescription meds: These are medicines approved by the USFDA or the relevant government agency in your country, and available only on prescription.

Do they work? Yes, they do, within reasonable limits. And when taken under medical supervision.

Are they safe? There is no “safe” drug.

There is no “safe” dietary supplement or nutraceutical either.

In a medical context, “safe” means that the drug has been approved after rigorous testing over several years, and the benefits of the drug outweigh its potential side-effects.

Even so, any responsible doctor will think twice before prescribing a drug for weight-loss.

Six prescription drugs are in common use for obesity management. I won’t mention any names, in case you think I’m promoting any particular medicine. Each of them is useful in treating severe obesity and each has its own benefit-to-risk profile.

How long do I take prescription meds?

This is the difference between scientific obesity management and nutra-quackery.

Prescription meds are taken under medical supervision for limited periods of time. Depending on your response to the drug, your doctor may prescribe it for a few weeks to a few months. The doctor’s objective is to use drugs to bring down your weight to the point where you can take up a diet and exercise program. At this point, the drug will be discontinued.

The nutra-peddler on the other hand, will try to convince you that you should buy his “safe” nutraceutical stuff for the rest of your life. It’s “just” a dietary supplement, you will be told.  You can take his “safe” dietary supplement for the rest of your life and remain slim and sexy for the rest of your life.

Yeah, sure.

If you’re expected to consume a nutraceutical, every single day, for the rest of your life, don’t you think you should be deeply worried about its long-term effects on your body? And don’t you think your nutra-peddler should give you safety data on his weight-loss supplement? By long-term, one means over a period of ten years at least.

In most cases, your nutra-peddler won’t give you this data. Because he doesn’t have it. Because long-term safety studies cost money. Because it’s cheaper to hire a smart lawyer instead.

2) Surgery

For patients whose obesity is potentially life-threatening, and cannot be managed even with prescription drugs, a doctor will consider bariatric surgery. The objective of bariatric surgery is to temporarily or permanently reduce the size of your stomach, and thereby restrict the amount of food you can eat.

Bariatric surgery can result in significant and sustained weight-loss. But remember that any surgical procedure, even a simple tooth cavity filling, has an element of risk. And also remember that bariatric surgery is not a cosmetic procedure, like a liposuction or a facelift. Bariatric surgery is a serious intervention and it does carry some risk. When it is performed by the right surgeon, the procedure can be life-changing.

Any kind of surgical intervention is used as a last resort, and bariatric surgery is no exception.

But then, most obesity patients can be readily treated with diet and exercise, and if really necessary, a short course of prescription drugs.

Obesity can be psychologically devastating. I’ve seen how bad it can get.

In my opinion, nutra-peddlers who exploit your fear to sell you worthless and very expensive nutra-crap, are the lowest forms of human life on this planet.

I have spoken.



Key references:

The NHLBI’s Obesity Education Intitiative, under the US government’s Dept of Health and Human services provides a wealth of information and booklets that you can download. I would seriously recommend that you read them.

Here’s the link:


Nutra Tamasha – The great weight-loss hoax – Part 1.

obesity-crop-187102.JPGTamasha: In India it means “farce”.

Obesity: In the world of nutraceuticals, it means “cash-cow”.

Nutra-peddlers can always count on your irrational obsession with your waistline – to improve their bottomline.

Every profit-making nutraceuticals manufacturer (and there are a lot of them, thanks to you), has at least one “guaranteed” product in his arsenal for weight loss. You can safely bet that half their profits come from your paranoia about your bulging belly and your jiggling butt.

Whether any of these weight-loss nutraceuticals or dietary supplements actually work is debatable. Very debatable.

The root cause of the problem is social. We have weird, illogical, physiologically unattainable and medically ridiculous standards of beauty. We judge others by their physical appearance, not by their competence.

In other words, the root cause of the problem is not the nutra-peddlers, but you.

Nutra-peddlers know this very well and they exploit your stupidity to the hilt, as they ply you with one “scientific” dietary supplement after another, each backed by “research”, each guaranteed to make you as sexy as Adonis (or Aphrodite), and each equally worthless.

What’s obesity anyway?

Ah. That’s a good question. Innocent laypeople (that’s you), cannot distinguish between normal weight gain and morbid obesity.

I said, normal weight gain. It is perfectly normal to gain some weight as one ages. Obviously, you cannot expect to be as slim and hard at fifty as you were at twenty. Normal human beings tend to gain some weight, as their metabolic rates decline with age.

The technical term is basal metabolic rate or BMR. Simply put, BMR is an indicator of how much energy you consume at rest. As you age, your BMR will decrease. This is a natural process and not something to be tampered with.

Many nutra-peddlers claim that their products, uniquely, can increase your BMR and make you lose weight dramatically.


It is exceptionally difficult to raise your basal metabolic rate, partly because it is difficult to accurately measure your BMR in the first place. No nutraceutical or dietary supplement that I know of can increase your BMR to the point where you will lose weight just like that.

If any supplement does increase your BMR, then I would definitely wonder about what that supplement actually contains – because only certain prescription drugs are known to affect BMR, and those drugs have nasty side-effects.

How do I know if I’m just overweight or really obese?

What you need to know is your body-to-mass index, also known as BMI. It’s easy to calculate. Simply divide your weight in kilos by your height in square meters.

For a 6 foot tall man weighing 80 kgs, his BMI would be 80/(1.83)^2 = 23.8.

Another quick calculation is your waist-to-hip ratio. That’s easy. Measure waist, measure hips. Divide.

A BMI of more than 26 is generally considered obese. If your BMR is more than 30, that’s morbid obesity.  If your waist-to-hip is more than 1.2, and your BMR is in the high twenties, it would be a good idea to seek professional help.

Mind you, professional help. Not nutra-crap in a bottle.

Up next: How to properly treat obesity.

Stay tuned.



Key reference:

Weight control, US Dept of Health and Human Services.



Nutra Tamasha: Antioxidants – Science or fairy tales?

grapefruit-1180216Antioxidants! Those colorful little pills of immortality. Those iridescent capsules filled with promises of eternal health and never-ending youth.

Or are they just filled with lies and worthless crap?

Did you really believe you could become immortal by simply popping a capsule of antioxidants every day? Seriously? Are you that dumb?

What are these antioxidants anyway?

The human body uses nutrients and oxygen as fuel.  It also uses oxygen to help the immune system combat disease.  These normal processes in the body create some unstable and energetic by-products called ‘free radicals’.  The fancy term is “reactive oxygen species”, often abbreviated by nutra-peddlers as ROS, just to confuse you.

Left to themselves, free radicals can damage your body cells and may affect your DNA. Therefore, free radicals are believed to be responsible for some of our ailments.

When combined with elevated sugar levels in the blood, as it happens with diabetes, free radicals can potentially be quite nasty to your body.  The scientific term is “oxidative stress”.  If you see a peeled apple turning brown, know that oxidative stress is making that happen.

All this is well known to science, since many decades.

Free radicals are aggressively advertised by nutra-peddlers as terrible villains that will strike you dead – if you don’t buy whatever they’re peddling.

What the peddlers of nutra-crap won’t tell you is that free radicals are also useful to you. They help your body fight off germs and may increase your life-span in many ways.

As it turns out, oxidative stress may be good for you.

What the peddlers also won’t tell you is that your body has its own enzymatic defence system against free radicals. In fact, your body has a highly evolved defence mechanism to neutralise free radicals, and it does so quite well.

So why should I buy these expensive anti-oxidants in a bottle?


Free radicals have been around quite literally since the dawn of life. Almost 200 million years ago, when plants first evolved, they developed their own defensive molecules to deal with free radicals. These antioxidants, like ascorbic acid (vitamin C), tocopherols (vitamin E), polyphenols, flavanoids and so on, are still to be found in modern-day plants.

Theoretically therefore, by eating plants and fruits that are rich in antioxidants, we can help our bodies combat our own free radicals.

However, if you are sensible and eat plants and fruits, then how do the nutra-peddlers make their money?

So, what they do is to extract these anti-oxidants, patent those extracts, put those extracts into capsules or tablets, or “health” drinks, or what-have-you, and laugh all the way to their respective banks, as you guzzle all that stuff.

The reality of antioxidants in a bottle is …

Science says NO!

The only way to settle the question scientifically is by long-term controlled clinical studies. Since the past two decades, hundreds of clinical trials have been conducted, involving thousands of human subjects.

Here’s the gist of all those mega trials across the world:

The benefits of vitamin E are inconclusive. At high doses, vitamin E may increase the chances of internal bleeding, especially in patients who are on cardiovascular medication (like me).

There is no solid evidence that vitamin C prevents or cures a cold, or any other ailment for that matter.

Beta-carotene actually increased mortality and increased the incidence of cancer in some people.

This is what the US government’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has to say:

“research has not shown antioxidant supplements to be beneficial in preventing diseases”.

No need to blindly believe me. Read the entire report here.

And this is what the American Heart Association says:

“The existing scientific database does not justify routine use of antioxidant supplements for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease”.

And here is the original report in ravishing detail.

Fact or hype?

That hasn’t stopped nutra-peddlers from selling antioxidants as if they’re Mankind’s last hope. Many have concocted new ‘concentrates’, which, they claim, provide the same benefits as real fruits and vegetables.

Use your common sense, will you? Anti-oxidants are not the only useful things in fruits and vegetables. You get loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and many other nutrients that your body needs. Even the skins and seeds are useful.

Do you think it is really possible to condense all these useful ingredients into a tiny pill?

I’ve tried myself, for years. It’s just not possible, believe me.

And why take all the trouble and expense anyway, when Nature has already put all those antioxidants into delicious, easily available and inexpensive natural containers – called fruits and vegetables?

Bottom line

The long-term benefit of any single antioxidant in a bottle has never been conclusively established, beyond reasonable scientific doubt.  Never.


Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables!

The best antioxidants that money can buy!

If you’re willing to waste two thousand rupees on a few grams of carrot extract or a few ounces of an anti-oxidant drink, you might as well eat real carrots for one full year with the same cash … and get more benefits.

In general, most of the non-green and brightly colored fruits and vegetables you see in your supermarket are excellent sources of anti-oxidants.

Thus: Oranges and lemons (ascorbic acid), yellow or red capsicums (flavanoids), oily fish from the sea (sardines, salmon, vitamin E), seaweed sheets or edible algae (vitamin E), grains, peaches, mangoes, nuts, grapes, coffee, tea, and on and on.

Heard of Wikipedia? Here’s a huge list of foods that are rich in antioxidants, and far better and cheaper than patented nutra-crap in a bottle. Most of these foods can be seen at your local grocer’s, or in my country, at roadside shops.

And here, from my own blog, is one of the best sources of antioxidants that you can find.

Sorry, but immortality doesn’t come in a bottle … not yet anyway.

Cheers … Srini.

Up next: The Weight-loss Hoax.

A hoax called Wheatgrass.


I was in herbal research for a long time. Let me tell you, there’s no shortage of herbal con-artists in the field.

One of the great herbal hoaxes of the modern age is – Wheatgrass juice.

Make no mistake. It’s a hoax, plain and simple.

Nothing annoys me more than this great misconception that many people have – namely, if it’s herbal, there are no side-effects.  It’s a default response. If I say ‘Herbal’, you’ll say, ‘No side effects’.  I’ve seen too many people screw up their health because of this myth.

There are innumerable claims being made about the alleged health benefits of Triticum aestivum, that being the scientific name for Wheatgrass.

Not one of these claims is backed by hard scientific evidence. Not one.

The alleged “detoxifying” effect of wheatgrass juice is non-existent. Our liver and kidneys do an excellent job of removing toxins from the body – whatever one means by “toxins”. Wheatgrass juice has no proven effect on either liver function or renal function. No effect whatsoever.

And to your misfortune, if your liver or kidney function is compromised due to infection, or chemotherapy or anything else, wheatgrass juice will not help you in any manner at all.

The “living” chlorophyll found in wheatgrass (whatever that means), is simply not available to the body, for a very good reason. That chlorophyll is broken rapidly by the strong acid in your stomach. Even if it were available, your body has no use for it. Chlorophyll is not a substitute for the body’s natural hemoglobin.

The same fate befalls the enzymes found in wheatgrass. They are all destroyed by stomach acid, within a few minutes after ingestion. Whatever health benefits you think you’ll get from the “living enzymes” in wheatgrass, exist only in your imagination.

Wheatgrass does contain some minerals, vitamins and other useful phytochemicals – just like all other plants that you eat. It is no way better or “healthier” than any other vegetable you like.

There is no real, proven benefit to be obtained from drinking raw plant juices of any kind, including wheatgrass. There is however, a good chance of picking up a serious E.coli infection or worse, a tapeworm infestation, especially if you use improperly treated compost to grow that green stuff in the comfort of your own home.

The only established fact about wheatgrass is that it is a decent source of plant fiber – just like all other plants on this planet.

Still, if you do want to guzzle wheatgrass juice thinking that it will cure you of all your ills, I can’t stop you. Just be aware of the risks involved – acute gastroenteritis being just one of them.

You know that pink and grey stuff that’s inside your skull? It’s called a brain. Use it.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. As Nature intended.

Cheers … Srini.

Noni nonsense.


Noni stinks. Literally and otherwise.

The ancient Polynesians ate the malodorous fruit of Morinda citrifolia as part of their regular diet. The Polynesians were great seafarers. Over the centuries, they migrated across the Pacific Rim and southeast Asia. Wherever they sailed in their canoes they carried along several plants for food and fiber. One of those ‘canoe plants’ was Noni.

Eventually, the plant found its way to India as well. Noni is more or less self-sustaining and flourishes in sub-tropical climates with minimal maintenance.

The Polynesians liked the fruit in spite of its cheesy stench, because they thought it was healthy. Well, if you like stinky fruit that’s your business. The juice of this cheesy stinker is another matter.

Suddenly, we are being bombarded with awe-inspiring stories about Noni juice. We are told it’s miraculous, sacred, divine, God’s gift to mankind, cure for cancer, cure for arthritis, colic, seizures, cough, diabetes, inflammation, kidney disease, liver disease, and just about every ailment known to Man.

Noni-nuts like to throw impressive adjectives at us, without really knowing what they mean, like immunomodulator, anti-proliferative, adaptogenic, and the like.

There are herbalists, botanists, alternative medicinalists, self-proclaimed “eminent” scientists, research labs with grandiose names peopled by afore-mentioned “eminent” scientists, all screaming themselves hoarse about the allegedly miraculous benefits of this alleged gift of God.

According to these self-proclaimed eminent scientists, about 32,000 pharma companies across India are run by fools. Millions of responsible doctors across India are also fools. All the health regulatory agencies in the country are also fools. They should all stop giving us all medicines of all kinds – and give us Noni juice instead.

I’m not being sarcastic.

What scares me is that there are “scientists” I know who actually make these statements out loud. What really scares me is the increasing number of consumers who actually believe these statements.

The “scientists” will shut up skeptics like myself with review articles (written by themselves, of course), research papers (authored by themselves, of course), reams of “scientific” reports (produced by themselves, of course).

But there is something missing in all the information they bury you with – EVIDENCE.

Noni is being touted as a guaranteed cure for cancer. The number of peer-reviewed research papers that conclusively prove this claim is nil.

In fact, the number of peer-reviewed research papers that provide you with conclusive evidence of any of Noni’s claimed health benefits is nil.

No wonder then, the USFDA sends out formal warning letters to manufacturers of Noni juice for making ridiculous claims. You can see one such warning letter, here.

The truth about Noni …

There are several peer-reviewed reports that noni juice can cause liver damage. Here are a few:

  • Severe liver injury in a 38-year-old woman was reported after 7-day consumption of noni juice.
  • Another study involved a 14-year-old boy who developed liver toxicity from consuming noni juice.
  • Hepatitis was reported from drinking noni juice over a four week period. Other cases of liver damage from noni juice have been reported.
  • One victim even required a liver transplant.

Check out these papers yourself, and judge for yourself.

Did you know noni juice has unhealthy amounts of potassium? If you’re taking medication for blood pressure or cholesterol, you should not take noni juice. You might damage your kidneys. Since noni juice can damage your liver as well, you should not take it with any medication that affects your liver. And that’s a long list.


If you like stinky fruits, eat Noni fruit once in a while if you can get it. Eat it in moderation and with caution.
If you think the juice of noni is a God-send that can cure you of everything from cancer to old age, you are utterly wrong. Drinking noni juice for extended periods is a bad idea. The health benefits are non-existent. The health risks are real.

Why can’t you enjoy normal fruits like normal people do? You know, bananas, apples, oranges, mangoes and stuff. They’re much better for you.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. As Nature intended.



Key reference:

Noni: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health, US Government Dept of Health & Human Services.

URL: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/noni


The Great Nutraceutical Tamasha

Tamasha:  A word known across India. It means “farce”.

Nutraceutical:  Modern catch-word used to describe a confusingly wide range of allegedly healthful products that are allegedly derived from food, or from medicinal plants disguised as food, or offal, glandular secretions, organs, tissue and heaven-knows-what-else, and are allegedly safe and allegedly efficacious.

Note the repeated use of the word “allegedly”.

There are other catch-words that sound impressive but mean nothing – functional food, pharma-food, dietary supplement, nutrimedicine.

If the claims made by those who peddle these nutraceuticals are entirely true, then we just need to gulp their products every day, and we would be blessed with eternal life, thick black flowing hair, slim waists, muscular bodies, surging libidos, and huge throbbing dicks.

After twenty years in the nutraceuticals line, I have none of the above.

The problem with nutraceuticals is money. Nutraceuticals are a multi-billion dollar business, notably in the US of A.

There’s a lot of money to be made if one has sufficient money to start with, understands the regulatory loopholes in the law, can hire some clever lawyers, and knows how to package and present his “miraculous” nutraceuticals to a gullible customer.

That gullible customer of course, is you.

It’s “science” they thunder at you. We have “evidence”, “research”, “time-tested proof”. We have patents, government approvals, license to sell. Yeah sure.

What they’re selling to you, and what you’re actually buying, is not Science but … Hope.

Nothing more than Hope in a bottle.

Come with me then, as I take you into the world of Nutraceuticals.

Let’s talk real science and let’s talk the truth. Then you will understand how you go out of your way to make millionaires out of snake-oil merchants. Admittedly, they’re not all snake-oil merchants, but many of them are.

After that, you can decide what’s good for you.

Stay tuned.

Up next: The Fantastic Antioxidant Hoax.