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Dr. Zorba Paster: Think about cost of health products

May 18, 2019

Fad. Fad. Fad. I’ve seen lots of them in my four decades as a doctor. Some are dangerous, such as the high-colonic enemas with less than sanitary equipment — which spread infections such as amebic dysentery.

I used to think of most fads in “no-harm-no-foul” terms until I saw that some of them were foul, indeed. They may not have caused physical harm but many have caused financial harm. And shouldn’t we think about finances when it comes to health? Of course we should!

This means if you buy something that may or may not help your health, you should take the cost and your finances into consideration.

So at 75 cents to $2 per cup, is coconut water really worth it?

If it’s a drink you like, then so be it. It’s more expensive than a soda, but it’s certainly healthier. Just how healthy, though, is the question.

Coconut water is a cloudy liquid that comes from green coconuts, immature fruits. Coconut milk is whiter and more translucent because it contains more fat. Coconut water contains a moderate amount of sugar, about 3 teaspoons per cup — 45 calories — with sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. As with most other fruits, it contains vitamin C. As for fat content, it’s negligible.

So does it do a better job than regular water? From a sodium point of view, we already get too much sodium in America today so we don’t need more. As for potassium, it’s rich in that, having about as much as a banana or a cup of orange juice, which contains twice the calories. As for scientific studies, there have been none of any significance regarding coconut water, just a few small ones designed to sell product.

My spin: I think coconut water is a reasonable choice for rehydration, similar to an artificial sports drink such as Gatorade, but it’s natural. If you like that taste and the fact it’s not an industrialized product, then go for it.

More on GERD surgery

Last week, I discussed the side effects of PPI medications (proton pump inhibitors) such as Prilosec, which are taken to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. I noted how useful those PPIs — and another type of drug, H2 blockers such as Zantac — were for treating GERD.

I also briefly mentioned surgery. To elaborate, I was referring to the surgical treatment for GERD called the Nissen fundoplication, which is now done laparoscopically. What used to be a very difficult operation in terms of recovery now has become same-day surgery.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration also approved the LINX prosthesis to treat GERD. This device works by strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter – the muscle that should keep the stomach closed so acid doesn’t go up the esophagus — with a ring made up of a series of rare earth magnets.

For those who still suffer from GERD while on medications, these surgical options can make a difference and are worth discussing with your doctor. Stay well.

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