Dear Doc: A while ago, you wrote about the copper mugs used for Moscow mules. You indicated food should not touch copper unless there is some sort of lining on the inside of the copper. Does that include cookware?I have a copper bowl, have had it for years, and I use it for whipping cream. It was my mom’s. Every time I whip up those soft peaks of luscious cream, I think of her. Am I poisoning myself? – S.J. from western New York

Dear S.J.: You’re safe, no worries. The issue with copper is acid. When the pH goes into the acidic realm, then copper can leach out. The Moscow mule drink has lime in it that creates acidity. Your cream is close to the pH of 7, which is perfectly safe. So carry on with dreams of your mom.

Dear Doc: I agree with you that exercising is important at all ages, but I disagree about the number of steps. I’m 82, I log nearly 8,000 steps a day – I think that’s just dandy. But according to you, I’m not meeting the grade. Do you really think the same number should apply to everyone – from 20 to 80? I certainly don’t. – C.J. from Spokane, Washington

Dear C.J.: Ten thousand steps is a laudable goal, but it is absolutely arbitrary. It was made up by a Japanese entrepreneur and pedometer manufacturer. Why? It was his lucky number. It was easy to remember. Folks loved it.

What you are doing, 8,000 steps, is about 5 miles a day of walking, which is quite a bit for someone 82. I congratulate you on doing this. It will keep you going – and like Ben Franklin might say, healthy, wealthy and wise. (The “wealthy” part comes from his saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”) Keep truckin’!

Dr. Zorba: Your recent article on the association between health issues and diet soda hit home. A family member of mine just had open-heart surgery. He’s 77 years old and drinks a ton of Diet Pepsi. I’ve been telling him to stop, but he won’t listen to me. If I tell him this might give him a stroke, then he just might listen up. Your advice? – J.P. from Seattle

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Dear J.P.: The connection between diet soda and stroke is not exact – it’s not like a double-blind placebo-controlled study. It’s just a connection. It might be that diet soda drinkers have a different lifestyle than non-drinkers.

But be sure of one thing: Drinking diet soda doesn’t cause weight loss. As a society, since we’ve been drinking diet soda we’ve become heavier and heavier and heavier. So I can say with assurance that it doesn’t keep a pound of weight off your relative.

I suggest to my diet soda-addicted patients that they try cutting down to one a day and leave it at that. The rest of the time they should try the most natural drink of all, water. Stay well.

This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort is implied or offered by Dr. Paster to people submitting questions.