The Truth about Coffee: The Benefits and Harms of Your Regular Espresso

For years now, there has been so much debate on whether or not coffee is actually good for us. If you are someone that drinks coffee each and every day, here are some of the health benefits that you will likely experience, as well as a few dangers that you need to watch out for.

 

What Exactly is Coffee?

 

Coffee is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, with 83% of the population of the United States being avid coffee drinkers. Consisting of a powerful collection of biologically active compounds, many people associate only caffeine with coffee, but this drink actually contains so much more than that, and is packed with thousands of complex substances.

 

Coffee Can Boost Physical Performance

 

Coffee has been proven to be able to increase energy and boost physical performance, making this a great beverage to sip on before a workout.

 

Drinking just one cup of coffee, around an hour before you intend to work out, can improve your performance by up to 12%.

 

Why?

 

Well, coffee increases the adrenaline in your blood, which is the hormone that your body produces to help it to deal with physical exertion. An increase in adrenaline levels then increases your energy, as well as the amount of exercise you are able to do.

 

 

Coffee Helps to Burn Fat and Lose Weight   

 

While you should not depend solely on coffee if you are trying to lose weight, this beverage can definitely help you on your weight loss quest.

 

Coffee is packed with potassium and magnesium, both of which help the body to use insulin and regulate blood sugar levels. By keeping your blood sugar levels steady, you will not experience as many cravings for unhealthy foods and snacks, making it much easier for you to stick to a healthy diet.

 

But, don’t forget…

 

Although coffee can help you lose weight, you need to ensure that you are not filling your coffee with calorie-laden creams and sugars, as this will only counter the weight loss benefits that coffee can have.

 

Coffee Contains a Wide Range of Antioxidants

 

Here is a fact that will no doubt surprise you…

 

Coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, and outranks both fruits and vegetables combined. 

 

Coffee is absolutely packed with a wide range of antioxidants, including:

 

  • Polyphenols – key when it comes to disease prevention
  • Hydrocinnamic Acids neutralizes free radicals and prevents oxidative stress
  • Cafestol an anti-inflammatory that protects the brain
  • Melanoidins an anti-bacterial and an anti-inflammatory that also gives coffee its distinct aroma

 

So, why exactly are antioxidants so important?

 

Well, the body is constantly being attacked by free radicals, and these cause so much damage to your cells, affecting them as deeply as DNA level. Antioxidants are able to neutralize these free radicals, keeping your body healthier, as well as more youthful, for longer.

 

 

But, here’s the deal…

 

The way in which you prepare your coffee will have a significant impact on its antioxidant content. For example, roasted coffee has many more antioxidants than non-roasted coffee, so always opt for coffee that is as high quality as possible.

 

Coffee Reduces Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

 

Affecting over 300 million people, type 2 diabetes is one of the most common diseases out there, and refers to blood sugar levels being elevated due to a resistance to insulin.

 

There have been multiple studies carried out over the years that look at the relationship between coffee and type 2 diabetes, and the results have been surprising…

 

By drinking coffee on a daily basis, you will be able to reduce your risk of developing diabetes by an impressive 23-67%.

 

Coffee Offers Protection for the Brain

 

As the body ages, neurodegenerative diseases become so much more common.

 

What is a neurodegenerative disease?

 

These are brain diseases that occur due to the death of neurons in the brain. These diseases are always progressive, meaning that neurons will continue to die and the disease will only worsen over time.

 

The two most common neurodegenerative diseases out there are Alzheimer’s, which is also the leading cause of dementia, and Parkinson’s.

 

 

Fortunately, coffee can help to protect your brain from both of these…

 

  • Alzheimer’s – Research shows that coffee drinkers have a 65% lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s Studies show that coffee drinkers have a 32-60% lowered risk of developing Parkinson’s, with this number increasing with the more coffee that you drink

 

By protecting the neurons in your brain, coffee will also reduce your risk of developing dementia as you get older.

 

Coffee Improves Mood and Acts as an Anti-Depressant

 

The caffeine that coffee contains is a known stimulant, and, each time you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine blocks the function of one of your brain hormones, known as adenosine.

 

Wondering what this actually means?

 

Well, by blocking adenosine, your brain is then able to enjoy an increase in activity, and releases several other neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine.

 

Here is what this can do for you:

 

  • Improves your mood
  • A short-term boost to brain function
  • Reduces tiredness and increases alertness

 

All of these effects then work together to fight depression, with one Harvard study showing that coffee drinkers experience a 20% lowered risk of becoming depressed.

 

This also relates to suicide rates, with coffee drinkers being 53% less likely to take their own lives.

 

Coffee Can Lower Your Risk of Premature Death

 

Premature deaths can be caused by so many different factors, including all of the health issues mentioned in this article.

 

By experiencing so many health benefits, it only makes sense that coffee drinkers have a much lowered risk of dying prematurely.

 

How much coffee do you need to drink for this?

 

Studies have shown that when drinking four to five cups of coffee a day, men have a 12% reduced risk of premature death, while women have 16%.

 

However, even just one cup of coffee a day can still reduce your risk of premature death by 5-6%, showing you just how little is needed to make a difference. 

 

Coffee Can Reduce the Risk of Cancer

 

Thanks to its phenolic compounds, coffee can have a significant impact on different types of cancer.

 

Numerous studies have been carried out over the years. Here are some of the results:

 

  • A 2012 study found that each cup of coffee a day would lessen your chances of developing endometrial cancer by 8%
  • A 2011 study showed that each cup of coffee a day would reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 4%
  • A 2011 study found that each cup of coffee a day would reduce the risk of bladder, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers by 3%

 

Here is the best bit…

 

When it comes to liver cancer, a 2007 study found that drinking two extra cups of coffee a day would lower an individual’s risk by 43%.

 

Coffee Can Help with Oral Health

 

You are probably thinking…

 

“Coffee is known to stain teeth. How can it help with oral health?”

 

While it is true about coffee staining the teeth, this is a cosmetic problem, and does not actually signify anything about a person’s health.

 

In fact, when drank straight black, the antioxidants found within coffee make your teeth less adhesive. This means that bacteria is not able to hold on to your teeth with much strength, not only keeping them cleaner, but also making them easier to clean.

 

Coffee Can Elevate Cholesterol Levels

 

While coffee does not contain cholesterol itself, it does interfere with the way in which your body produces and regulates cholesterol.

 

How?

 

As mentioned above, coffee contains an antioxidant called cafestol. While this compound does have its benefits, it affects the way in which your body metabolizes cholesterol, leading to raised cholesterol levels.

 

Fortunately, there is a way around this…

 

There are multiple ways to brew a coffee, but, if you do it in an American-style coffee pot, with a filter, then the resulting coffee will actually have quite low cafestol levels.

 

Why is this?

 

Since the coffee only passes through the grounds once, most of the cafestol is left behind in the filter. On the other hand, a French press brews coffee by constantly passing water through the coffee grounds, meaning that the resulting beverage contains quite a bit of cafestol.

 

However, even if you do like a French press, you may not need to worry too much about raised cholesterol levels…

 

Research has indicated that you would need to drink around five cups of French press coffee a day to see an increase in your cholesterol levels, so as long as you ensure that your coffee consumption does not become excessive, then you should not have a problem.

 

Coffee Can Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease

 

While coffee does not increase the risk of heart disease for everybody, it does if you have a genetic mutation that slows down the rate at which caffeine is broken down by the body.

 

Since your body will not be able to metabolize the caffeine quickly enough, this can significantly increase your chances of developing heart disease.

 

Fortunately, this does not mean that you have to completely avoid coffee…

 

Try to stick to just one cup a day, as the risks will only come from drinking two cups or more.

 

Coffee Can Be Addictive

 

If you are quite dependent on your daily coffee, then you will already be aware of the fact that coffee is quite addictive. This is due to the caffeine in coffee, with the term caffeine dependence being coined a few years ago.

 

What does too much caffeine do to your body?

 

A number of things:

 

    • Increases anxiety
    • Disrupts sleep patterns
    • Leads to insomnia
    • Increases blood sugar levels
    • Can lead to spinal bone loss if an individual is not consuming enough calcium

 

A Lowered Tolerance

 

While all of these health benefits that coffee can bring to the body may sound great, keep in mind that many of these effects are likely to only be short term. If you are someone that drinks coffee multiple times a day, then you are likely to soon build up a tolerance to its benefits, meaning that the results will not be as noticeable, and you will be more likely to experience some of the negatives that come with coffee.

 

So, how much is too much?

 

Drinking more than eight cups of coffee a day would be considered excessive, and would bring about the negative effects mentioned above.

 

So, as long as you stay below this guideline, and do not fill your coffee with sugars, flavors and creams, you will be able to enjoy nothing but the many benefits that coffee can bring to the body.

 

How to Make Your Coffee Even Healthier

 

As mentioned above, you need to ensure that you do not add sugars and other harmful ingredients to your coffee, as this negates its benefits.

 

Here are a few other tips to help you to ensure that your daily brews are as health-boosting as possible:

 

  • Coffee is often sprayed heavily with pesticides, making it worth springing for organic versions
  • For maximum health benefits, drink your coffee straight black
  • Adding a square of 70% cacao dark chocolate to your cup of coffee will give it a chocolatey edge, while bringing you all of the health benefits of the cacao too 

 

 

So, how should you brew your coffee?

 

Well, that all depends on what you are trying to gain from it…

 

  • If you want a coffee that is as “pure” as possible, opt for a French press
  • If you have acid reflux or a sensitive stomach, go for cold-brewed coffees, as these are much less acidic
  • If you have cholesterol concerns, an American-style coffee pot or an instant coffee may be your best bet

 

Do not be afraid to experiment with all of the different coffees, as well as brewing methods, that are out there. While you do want your coffee to be as beneficial to your health as possible, you still need to be able to find a brew that truly satisfies your taste buds.

matcha tea on wooden desk

Is Matcha Better For You Than Coffee?

Tea or coffee? It’s the age old question, but if the lines at Starbucks are anything to go by, coffee would be the resounding winner. In fact, even England, the land of tea, has been making the switch, with more with more of the English trading in their beloved herbal oolongs and pekoes for the caffeinated boost of java. However, there is one tea on the market that may give the ol’ cup of Joe a run for its money. Matcha green tea is the latest beverage to come up against coffee as the energizing superfood drink of a new generation. Is coffee a match for matcha? Here are some of the facts about matcha green tea.

What Makes Matcha So Special?
Usually, when you brew your tea, you leave the best of it in the bag. Water can only extract a fraction of the benefits of the leaves, and the majority of antioxidants and minerals often remain unused. Matcha is made unheated stone ground tea leaves, which are far less processed than regular tea leaves so nutrients are preserved. Thus, by drinking match, you are getting all the superfood benefits of the leaves.

Packed with Antioxidants
When it comes to antioxidants, you really can’t get much more free radical defense than you’ll find in matcha. Even goji berries and pomegranates pale in comparison to the uber powerful beverage. One cup of matcha has a ten times as many antioxidants than the usual brewed green teas, and way more than coffee. Coffee doesn’t contain the catechins found in matcha, which are linked with cancer and aging defense.

Clean Caffeine
While matcha does have an equal amount of caffeine a a cup of brewed coffee (34mg) and half the amount of an espresso, the buzz lasts longer and is more energizing. The amino acid L-Theanine in matcha slows down the release of caffeine and also has its own calming effect.

cold matche drinks and matcha powder

Fights Bad Breath
Skip the mouthwash! The catechins in matcha also act as a sterilizer. A cup of the tea after a meal can slow down the growth of disease and halitosis causing germs.

Boosts Metabolism and Burns Fat
Claims to boost metabolism and burn fat are attractive features in almost any product. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming match tea increases the body’s rate of calorie burn from a normal 8-10% of expenditure per day to between 35 and 43%. Another study showed that exercising immediately after bolting down a cup of matcha led to an increase of 25% more fat burned during exercise.

Where Can You Get This Stuff?
Not just for tea time, you can get your matcha in your snacks and meals. Blend the green powder into frozen yoghurts and smoothies, add to porridge, and even cakes. It can even be used as a topical beauty treatment. Matcha supports the reduction of bodily toxins and encourages glowing skin, which makes it great in face masks.

Have you enjoyed the benefits of matcha? How did you get your dose? Does it give coffee a run for the money? Let us know what you thought of the latest beverage to hit the market.

Woman looking at pills

Pills to Live Longer?

Longevity and a slow or even stop to the aging process and the increased risk of diseases, wrinkling, and general decrepitude it tends to lead to have long since been an enduring obsession of the human race. If you could take a pill that would let you live longer, be happier, and look younger for longer, would you? For many, this is a given; the goal of a better, longer, happier life is so ubiquitous is may very well be a defining trait of collective human consciousness. And along those lines, there are many researchers and prodigious experts in various fields who are chasing after ways to slow, halt, or even reverse aging.

But how close are we? You may hear a variety of claims regarding life-extending and age-slowing miracle cures, but the sad truth is that if it sounds too good to be true (read: if it’s inconsistent with current well-substantiated medical knowledge and is not, itself backed up by solid research or a consensus of expert opinion), it probably is. Granted, when it comes to supplements for living longer, there is something to be said in edge cases at the very least, but it takes a lot of wading through hoaxes to find it.

Antioxidant Supplements
Antioxidants show some promise for helping slow aging according to the free-radical theory of aging. That said, aforementioned theory lacks a preponderance of evidence and therefore should probably be looked at as a “maybe, maybe not” sort of thing. Further, taking antioxidant supplements has been shown by a lot of well-documented and controlled studies lately to be entirely ineffectual, and maybe even harmful. Of course, that says nothing about obtaining antioxidants through your diet by, say, eating dark leafy greens and sipping red wine in careful moderation, which are, in fact, pretty healthy habits.

Human Growth Hormone
Touted by some snake oil vendors as an anti-aging solution, human growth hormone as a supplement has, in fact, been shown to accelerate aging, and should be avoided at all costs. This hormone is naturally occurring in our bodies and plays a role in growth and development. It is not only not necessary to supplement growth hormone, it’s potentially harmful and just a really bad idea.

Stem Cell Treatments
Stem cells show some promise for medical research, and their discovery was certainly a boon to researchers working on cracking the code of aging, but there are as of yet no reliable end-user applications for them on the market. If someone tries to sell you a “stem cell therapy” of any kind, stay far away.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
There’s good and bad news here. Bad news first: “overloading” on vitamins, which is often recommended for good health and extended youth, is not only entirely useless, it can in many cases be harmful, and depending on what vitamin you’re overloading and by how much, you can end up with anything from nausea to festering, ugly skin lesions. Please don’t do that to yourself.

So how about the good news? Well, while it’s always best to get vitamins and minerals from your diet, because it guarantees they’re easier for your body to absorb and utilize, taking a vitamin supplement (read: not overloading, just taking as much as you need; a.k.a. 100% daily value and never much over) can be pretty beneficial to your overall health, and therefore your chances of living longer and healthier.

What Else Can You Do?
Simple. Eat a varied diet, with only very small portions of meat, mostly fruits, vegetables, and grains, and include plenty of dark, leafy greens. Exercise moderately but regularly, foster healthy relationships with those around you (communicate clearly and openly!), accept what you can’t change, and don’t be afraid to admit when you need help. Work on all the above, and you’ll be well on your way to a long, happy, healthy life.

Skin care terms

Skin Care Terms Defined

With the number of skin care and beauty products available, it is super easy to get confused and bewildered by wording on the labels. Cosmetic products make claims that are nothing short of miraculous, and if you aren’t sure what the skin care terms mean, buying these products can lead to wasted money and headaches. Here, we’ve rounded up 15 of the most common skin care terms and defined them so you won’t feel lost or frustrated the next time you need skin care products.

Acne
Acne is the term used to describe a blemish or pimple on the skin. Acne can occur at any age and is most commonly found in people with oily skin types. Severe acne may cause cysts or abscesses.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Naturally occurring acids found primarily in cane sugar and citrus fruits. Types of AHAs include citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and pyruvic acid. Often used as exfoliating agents due to their ability to loosen skin cells on the surface of the skin. AHAs also help to retain moisture in the skin.

Antioxidant
Substances that fight free-radicals. Antioxidants counteract free-radicals by bonding to the damaging compounds into non-damaging compounds. They also may turn damaging compounds into cell-repairing compounds. Antioxidants are also an important factor in new collagen growth.

Barrier/Barrier Function
A paper-thin layer at the top of the skin that is responsible for protective functions. Barrier function refers to the skin’s ability to prevent penetration by microorganisms and chemicals that may cause damage or circulate into the bloodstream. This skin also reduces the amount of water lost.

Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
More commonly referred to as salicylic acid, beta-hydroxy acids are used primarily to treat acne. BHAs have antimicrobial features and can penetrate into pores. Because BHAs can penetrate pores, it exfoliates both surface skin and the inside of pores.

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen/Sun Protection
A sunscreen or sun protection product labeled as broad spectrum means that it contains active ingredients that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrated into deeper layers of the skin than UVB rays, making them more likely to cause premature aging. UVB rays are responsible for visible burns.

Comedogenic
A skin care product that includes one or more ingredients known to increase the accumulation of dead skin cells within follicles. This leads to the formation of blackheads and general acne flare-ups.

Dermatologically Tested
Products that have undergone clinical laboratory tests conducted of an independent or third-party dermatologist.

Exfoliants
Skin care products designed to break down the accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.

Free Radicals
Created when oxygen produces by-products during normal cellular metabolism. The reactive oxygen “steals” electrons from proteins, DNA and the membranes of cells resulting in damaged tissue.

Hypoallergenic
Describes products that were tested by third-party clinical laboratories and were shown to not create new allergic reactions.

Non-Acnegenic
Products that do not cause acne. Non-comedogenic refers to products that do not cause the pores to become clogged.

Sebum
Oil that is produced by glands in the middle layer of skin.

Sun Protection Factor
Numbers that refer to the effectiveness of a sunscreen to protect against UVB rays. To determine what SPF if appropriate, take the number of minutes it takes to burn without sunscreen and multiply it by the SPF factor. The result indicates the maximum amount of time for sun exposure before it must be reapplied.

Toxins
Substances that are irritating or poisonous and that lead to breakouts.

With these terms defined, your next trip to the beauty counter won’t be confusing or exasperating. You can pick your products with confidence that you know what they are and how they may affect your skin.

Red wine and red grapes.

History of Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is naturally found in sources such as grapes, blueberries, cranberries, billberries and peanuts. Perhaps the most well-known and discussed source of resveratrol is red wine. Research suggests that resveratrol is a key ingredient in red wine that prevents damage to blood vessels, prevent blood clots and reduces your levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein known as “bad” cholesterol). This polyphenol has been the subject of much research and study for several years, but resveratrol has been used for years.

Early History
In 1940, resveratrol was identified in the roots of a Japanese plant known as white hellebore. Years later, in 1963, resveratrol was also found in the roots of Japanese knotweed, which was used traditionally in Chinese and Japanese medicine. These cultures used Japanese knotweed to treat a large range of medical afflictions from infections, inflammations, liver disease and cardiovascular disease.

Women having red wine in a bar.

The French Paradox
It is widely known that French cuisine features foods that are rich and contain saturated fats, yet the French people are among the slimmest people in the world. Dr. Serge Renaud coined the phrase the “French Paradox” to describe the ability of the French to eat a diet rich in saturated fats and still remain thin. Additionally, the “French Paradox” focused on the fact that French people also suffer low instances of heart diseases. Doctors and researchers theorized that perhaps the alcohol consumption of the French had something to do with their ability to maintain healthy weights and healthy hearts. Specifically, researchers were curious about the amount of red wine that is consumed by the French and whether or not red wine would benefit other diets as well.

The 2000s and Beyond
David Sinclair, of Harvard Medical School, conducted studies the sowed the ability of resveratrol improved the life of yeast cells by as much as 70%. In 2004, another study at Harvard Medical School found that resveratrol lengthed the lifespan of worms and flies. Flies had a lifespan increased by about 30% while worms remained alive 70% longer. Additional studies on resveratrol had the same results; mice given a resveratrol supplement had a longer life expectancy than mice who were not given a resveratrol supplement.

Research and development for resveratrol has provided doctors and researchers with a wide range of the possible health benefits of consuming resveratrol. One of the major areas of study involves the “French Paradox,” which is the study of why the French, who frequently eat foods rich in saturated fats, are able to remain slim and why they have good health especially heart health. Other major studies involve the role of resveratrol in cancer and heart health such as reducing the levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and lowering blood pressure.

While the research on resveratrol continues, many health experts agree that the health benefits of resveratrol are widely beneficial. You can enjoy resveratrol’s benefits by eating grapes, nuts or pouring yourself a glass of red wine. Always consult with your doctor before adding supplements or drastically changing your diet to be sure you are not harming your health more than helping it.