The Truth About Water & Your Heart

Health & Wellness, Heart Health


My brother-in-law Jeff recently sent me an email that he had received questioning the innumerable virtues of drinking water for heart protection.  Not only was he correct in the lack of legitimacy for this assertion, but I was quite astounded to learn of the magnitude of false information (AKA, “fake news”) that is circulating on the internet.

While drinking water is vital to overall health and dehydration can pose health concerns, there is no evidence that the following list bears any physiologic truth.

2 glasses of water after waking up helps activate internal organs.

1 glass of water before taking a bath helps lower blood pressure.

1 glass of water before going to bed avoid stroke or heart attack.

What I recommend to my patients is the following:

  1. Drink ~1 glass of water (4-8 ounces) upon awakening.  This is not for heart protection but rather to replenish the modest insensible water losses that occur during sleeping hours.
  2. Stay well hydrated when traveling.  The rule of thumb is to drink ~8 ounces of water for every hour of air travel.  However, if you drink alcohol on the flight, then you need another ~8-ounces of water for per glass of wine, can of beer or shot of spirits.
  3. Stay well hydrated when engaging in physical activity.  Drink ~6-8 ounces of water before the workout begins and then supplement ~6-8 ounces of water every 15-30 minutes during the workout (depending upon intensity).                                 Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.  His latest book is   “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“.


She’s Leaving Home…

Health & Wellness, Heart Health

ilana mm babyshe's leaving home

As our 18-year old daughter finishes packing en route to her first year of college next week, a bittersweet (ours) yet energizing (hers) fragrance permeates the household.  As if it were yesterday, I lucidly recall the excitement of leaving home for college, feeling ecstatically free and beginning a new chapter in life.   For parents though, the process is a bit different. At the very least, our house will be significantly quieter…less bickering, drama, attitude & sibling rivalry issues.  And it will be very refreshing not to constantly hear “Dad, you’re so stupid“!  Yet, we will obviously miss her.  Fortunately, it is easier than ever to communicate…when I think back to my college days, the main sources of communication were 1) good old fashioned letter writing and 2) using the public phone booth in our dorm to make the call on a dime.   How things have changed…and I’m not even that old!

For stress reduction during this time, I recommend the following:

For parents, the simple act of planning an upcoming visit or trip when your child returns home releases the neurotransmitter dopamine that uplifts mood and spirits.

For your child, a useful strategy for reducing college-test anxiety as recommended by one of my patients is to complete exam preparation the day before the actual test.  For example, if the test is scheduled for Wednesday, complete preparation by Monday so that Tuesday is a more relaxing review day; this strategy helped him reduce his pre-test stress levels, significantly raise his scores and develop work habits that ultimately made him a successful attorney.

For parent and child, set aside a regular time to communicate (at least once weekly) to ensure that needs are met and nothing falls through the cracks.

Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.  His latest book is   “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“.


5 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Health & Wellness


Do you enjoy at least 1 cup of fresh brewed coffee every morning?  If you do, you’re certainly not alone as coffee is a staple in many countries.  In the United States at least 4 out of every 5 men and women drink coffee daily and in recent years the health benefits of coffee appear to far outweigh risks.  However, before discussing the virtues of java, it should be pointed out that the effects of caffeine can stick around for hours.  For my patients with insomnia, I recommend that they consume their final cup of coffee at least 8-10 hours before bedtime.  Second, due to  recent cancer concerns related to the toxin acrylamide that is released when coffee beans are roasted,  I recommend staying away from instant and light roasted coffee because they contain significantly higher amounts of acrylamide than medium or dark roasted varieties.

Now that you are armed with a cup of dark roasted coffee, let’s explore some of the proven health benefits:

  1. Improves Mood and Concentration: coffee contains the chemical methylxanthine, that helps to boost mood and concentration by blocking a compound that prevents the release of dopamine, norepinephrine and glutamate,  powerful neurotransmitters intimately involved in emotional health, focus and attention span.
  2. Reduces Glucose Levels: coffee contains the phytochemical, chlorogenic acid that slows the absorption of carbs, thereby lowering blood glucose levels and possibly the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  3. Clears your Lung Fields: coffee also contains the compound, theophylline that dilates lung airways and in medicinal form is commonly used as a treatment for asthma. If you have wheezing, try taking a deep breath after a cup of morning Joe and you may be surprised that your breathing is better and your lungs are clear.
  4. Speeds Up Your Metabolism: coffee boosts metabolism by increasing basal metabolic rate (BMR) due to activation of the flight-or-fight chemical epinephrine (or adrenaline); this can result in burning of fat calories and weight loss.
  5. Helps You to Live Longer:  Compared to non-drinkers, drinking as little as 1-2 cups of coffee a day is associated with improved lifespan.  Perhaps more importantly, your quality of life will improve too!

Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.  He is a member of the American College of Cardiology Nutrition Workgroup and bestselling author.  His latest book is   “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“.

Why I Recommend A Handful of Blueberries Daily

Health & Wellness, Nutrition


I won’t lie to you…I’ve had a longstanding love affair with blueberries ever since I was a 9-year old picking wild blueberries off bushes nestled in upstate New York. In fact, over the years, blueberries have become one of my daily staples and one that is featured with a dozen recipes in “Heal Your Heart.  That’s because blueberries are a win-win-win when it comes to tasting delicious, improving health and providing “supermood” qualities. I consume (at least) 1 handful of blueberries every day and you should too…here’s why: 

  1. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease in Women: blueberries are loaded with antioxidant flavonoids including anthocyanins, the pigments that give blueberries its rich color.  In a study of women in their mid-30s to early 60s, consuming blueberries and strawberries 3 or more times each week reduced the risk of heart disease by 34%.
  2. May improve (night) vision: Anthocyanins in blueberries have been reported to reduce inflammation in the retina and increase production of the visual protein, rhodopsin.  In fact, a recent report suggests that night vision may be improved.  I wonder whether the improvement that I have experienced in my vision (no glasses needed anymore…thank you) partly reflects my daily consumption of blueberries!
  3. Improves memory: Studies have demonstrated improvement in short term memory in older men and women consuming blueberry based products.
  4. Slows growth of tumors:  A growing body of evidence support the antioxidant and antiinflammatory components contained in blueberries to slow growth of a variety of tumors.
  5. Helps to maintain (or reduce) weight:  A number of animal studies have shown that antioxidant compounds in blueberries can lead to effective weight reduction. Although more modest effects have been reported in humans,  the low glycemic and high fiber index of blueberries make it one of nature’s healthiest and sweetest gifts and one that should be taken advantage of on a regular if not, daily basis!
  6. Michael Miller, MD is Professor and cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.  His research has been featured in numerous media outlets including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Toronto Globe & Mail and Times of India.