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Benefits of Both Decaf and Regular Coffee

Many of us have mad appreciation for our cups of coffee. In fact, coffee has often had our backs in the most seemingly hopeless of situations: prevented us from losing full days of work, from falling asleep on the job, or simply helped us to see the kids off to school without losing it. In fact, there are times when it may have said that coffee has “saved our lives,” but should we add a literal meaning to that? Studies show that drinking three cups of coffee can reduce chances of early death, and its has nothing to do with the caffeine. Here is some of the facts about how both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee can keep you lively.

The Magic of Coffee
According to two recent papers published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, drinking three cups of coffee can decrease risk of circulatory problems, liver disease, and diseases related to the digestive system. However, it’s not the caffeine content that’s responsible for the benefits, it’s the antioxidant content. To those champions of caffeine, this may not be the best of news. It would mean that health benefits are not characteristic of all caffeinated drinks. but only to coffee, in which case decaffeinated coffee is equally beneficial to caffeinated coffee, so you may still want to keep the energy drinks and sodas to a minimum. However, coffee lovers may still take heart.

Coffee and Long Life
Male study participants who drank three cups of coffee daily were found 18 percent less likely to die prematurely over a 16 year period than those who drank none. Women showed an 8 percent reduction in chance of death.

The second study showed that just one cup of coffee per day was powerful enough to decrease mortality risk by 12 percent in 16 years, and three cups led to an 18 percent risk reduction.

Study leader Marc Gunter sees promise in the results. “We are not at the stage of recommending people to drink more or less coffee, ” he says. “That said, our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking up to around three cups per day- is not detrimental, and that incorporation coffee into your diet could have health benefits.

Liver Benefits
While prior research found that coffee had a potential protective effect on the liver, it was not clear if the benefits held true for decaf as well. However, newer studies found a link between lower liver enzyme levels and decaffeinated coffee, as well as regular. Participants who drank three cups of coffee or more daily had lower liver enzymes than those who drank none, and the results rang true for the decaf drinkers as well. Study author, Dr. Qian Xiao says, “These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health.”

As for caffeine, researchers find that its effects may revolve around genetics. According to experts, intake is “naturally modulated’ by individuals, and that there are two gene variants that influence the ‘rewards’ of caffeine.

What do you think of the results? Could your morning coffee be a lifesaver in more ways than one? Let us know!

Woman holding energy drink

Energy Drinks May Zap Your Zing

Energy. Everyone wants more of it. In fact, if someone could put energy in a bottle and sell it, they would probably make a million dollars. Oh, wait, someone’s already tried it? Whenever you get a million dollar idea, you can be pretty sure that someone has already thought of it, and if that someone has access to the means of production, he or she has probably attempted to make it a reality – probably a lot of people. The only problem is, not all of these people are too concerned with what these products really do to the people who buy them. It’s no secret that energy drinks are big money, but are they really all they’re cracked up to be? Let’s take a closer look at the truth behind the can.

The Stats
Feel as if you’ve been hearing more lately about energy drink related visits to the emergency room? You’re not imagining things. Between 2007 and 2011, these visits doubled from an estimated 10,000 to 21,000 visits. According to a USC study of randomly sampled ER patients, a third of those who reported having consumed an energy drink suffered symptoms including everything from chest pain, to heart palpitations, to seizures. In addition, the FDA has received at least 15 reports of deaths related to the energy boosting beverages. Although there is no definitive proof linking the drinks with negative health reactions, Michael Jacobsen, PhD, says, “No one really knows how dangerous they are. They certainly raise a caution flag about drinking too much (caffeine) too quickly.” This “too quickly” may be related to the form of the drink itself. Says Jacobson, “Some contain large amounts of caffeine. And they’re consumed differently than coffee. Energy drinks are gulped, rather than sipped.”

Coffee beans

Caffeine Content
It may not surprise you to know that the active ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. What may surprise you, on the other hand, is the amount. While some brands stop at 50 milligrams, others pack in a whopping 215 mg. To break it down, an eight-ounce cup of Joe contains about 100 milligrams and most experts advise topping out at 400mg a day max. As if that wasn’t worrying enough, energy drink manufacturers are not required to list the amount of caffeine in their products unless it’s in the form of pure caffeine. That means, if the caffeine in the drink is added in the form of tea, coffee, or natural substances, such as guarana, the amount may not be on the can, and if it is, it may not be accurate.

How Do Energy Drinks Deliver?
Ok, so we know they might be dangerous to our health, but do energy drinks even do what they’re supposed to? While it may be true that caffeine can help to improve the clarity of thought and exercise endurance, as little as 1.5 mg per pound of body weight (2 cups for a person weighing in at 150) will do the trick and more does not make it better. Furthermore, according to a 2012 Nutrition Reviews report the energy drinks’ natural ingredients, like amino acids, vitamins, and botanicals do little to increase energy.

The Bottom Line
The overall verdict on energy drinks? Overall, when consumed in moderation, they are fairly safe. However, a study presented at the American Heart Association’s 2013 Scientific Sessions found that downing these babies can raise systolic blood pressure by 3.5 points on average and can lead to irregular heartbeats which can be potentially fatal, especially if you have an underlying heart condition. So bottom line? Proceed with caution.

What do you think about energy drinks? Friend or foe? We want to get your take.

Woman drinking a detox smoothie

Feel Better With A Weekend Detox

  Do you dream in chocolate?  Do you leave a basket of fruit on your table when the neighbors come and quickly swap it for the donut box when they go?  Do you have a secret stash of Snickers bars under your bed?  If this describes you, you may be a good candidate for a weekend detox.  Now let’s get this straight.  A weekend detox is not just for the nutritionally deprived.  It is a more like going on a two-day health bender in which your diet and health habits are regulated with the goal of cleansing your system, restoring blood pressure, and getting your digestion and blood sugar back on track.  Sound like a nutty adventure?  Let’s take a closer look.

Why the Weekend?
One thing you should keep in mind is that there is a reason for it being called a weekend detox.  Firstly,  limiting your food intake in this way is definitely not the best way to stay focused in the office and should only be done for a short time period.  Also, you need time to prepare your foods and might end up having to use the bathroom excessively because of the water, tea, and juices that constitute a good portion of most diets. Thus, a leisurely day with some degree of privacy may be best.

The Nutritional Component
The detox menu varies depending on the plan you follow.  The most severe ones are limited to system flushing liquids and smoothies, but more of them incorporate a restricted list of foods.  Here are the general rules of detox eating.

Antioxidants
Eating brightly colored fruits and veggies, whole grains and beans get rid of harmful substances and make them water soluble, so your system can flush them more easily.  Think spinach, kale, and cranberries.

Eat foods with Glutathione
What’s that?  Glutathione is an antioxidant that is produced by your own body.  It can be found in garlic, onions, eggs and foods rich in sulfuric compounds.  It is useful in removing toxins, including mercury and arsenic, from the body.

Drink water and tea
There is no denying that elimination is one of the primary goals of detox.  Water helps you with Number 1, Number 2, and perspiration.  While detoxing, try to drink 8-12 glasses of water or decaffeinated tea.

You may also want to add some  detox teas as  a bonus. These generally contain dandelion which supports digestion and liver function, licorice which expels mucus, and ginger, which stimulates circulation and gets rid of toxins.  Licorice tea, in particular, contains a compound that is 50 times sweeter than sugar, which may help to control a sweet tooth.

Eat Clean
Remember, your goal is to eliminate food that contain the toxins you are trying to eliminate.  Avoid processed goods including fast food, fried food, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, red meat, sugar and white flour.

Parting Notes
Avoid eating after 7 PM and get eight hours of sleep.  This will kick-start your system and help develop lasting healthy habits, or at least, help you get reacquainted with your fruit basket.

woman having coffee

Daily Caffeine Doesn't Cause a Racing Heart

If you absolutely can’t start your morning without coffee or get through the afternoon without a cup of tea, you’re in for good news. For years, the healthcare community has advised against regular caffeine consumption because caffeine is thought to disturb the natural cardiac rhythm of your heart, but a recent study challenges this advice. Coffee, tea and dark chocolate are full of antioxidants that may actually benefit your heart’s health, and according to this study, they are safe to be consumed daily.

The Study
Close to 1,400 individuals were chosen to participate in a year-long study that looked at the effects of daily caffeine consumption on the heart. “Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products to prevent disturbances of the heart’s cardiac rhythm should be reconsidered, as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Gregory Marcus, director of clinical research in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Given our recent work demonstrating that extra heartbeats can be dangerous, this finding is especially relevant,” Marcus adds. Marcus is referring to research that points to extra heartbeats being a cause of heart problems and stroke, but this is in rare cases.

The Results
Researchers monitored the chocolate, coffee and tea consumption of each of the 1,400 participants, and participants wore portable devices that monitored their heart rhythm continuously for 24 hours. During the course of the survey, 61 percent of participants consumed more than one of the caffeinated products daily and the results were that those who consumed more than one caffeinated item each day had no extra heartbeats. These findings are important because “this was the first community-based sample to look at the impact of caffeine on extra heartbeats, as previous studies looked at people with known (heart rhythm disorders),” says study lead author, Shalini Dixit, fourth-year medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.

The results of this study are exciting and encouraging because it was previously thought that regular caffeine consumption was related to extra heartbeats or a racing heart. This University of California, San Francisco study challenges those beliefs and asserts that caffeine can be consumed daily. It is important to note that the study looked at caffeinated products that are known to have additional health benefits (coffee, green tea and chocolate) and not drinks health experts warn people to stay away from like soft drinks. Additionally, the study authors say that before determining whether or not there are additional health risks to heavy caffeine consumption, more studies are necessary.

This study seems to confirm that like most things, caffeine in moderation is safe for your heart, and that some of the products containing caffeine may have additional health benefits. The antioxidants in coffee, green tea and chocolate provide health benefits for your body by fighting inflammation, protecting against free radicals and can even help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Enjoy these products in moderation, knowing that they won’t cause your heart to work overtime.