The definitive guide to coffee and health: Is it good or bad for you?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about drinking coffee: one person will tell you they can’t function without it (I fall into this category) and another will tell you giving it up has changed their lives.

This confusion isn’t just among people, the scientific community has been all over the place about coffee too.

For years doctors suggested people avoid coffee altogether – it may increase the risk of heart disease, it stunts growth, people may become addicted to the energy leading them to crave more and more as tolerance to its effects, it has damaging effects on the digestive tract. No matter what the researchers were measuring, coffee always came out behind.

Then the attitude shifted: coffee wasn’t so bad anymore. More recent studies than the aforementioned found no significant link between caffeine in coffee and heart-related issues (high cholesterol, irregular heartbeats, stroke, heart attack).

Then the attitude shifted yet again: coffee was viewed as actually being good for you. Studies show people who drink coffee have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, they have a lower risk of stroke, it’s high in antioxidants, it reduces inflammation, prevents Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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How do you make sense of all this conflicting information?

I’d like to help you out by telling you about a meta-analysis (a survey where the results of a bunch of different studies are combined and analyzed as if they were one study) about coffee consumption and health that was published in the British Medical Journal just months ago; it will give you all the answers you’ve been looking for about coffee.

Coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes of cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is an all-encompassing term that incorporates a class of diseases that involves the heart or blood vessels – we’re talking conditions such as coronary artery diseases (angina and heart attacks), stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, etc.

When you consider all cardiovascular diseases as a whole, three cups of coffee (when compared to people who don’t drink any coffee at all) reduces the risk of getting diagnosed with cardiovascular disease by 19%.

Based on the data they were able to collect in this meta-analysis, they were also able to look more specifically at two particular cardiovascular diseases: coronary heart disease and stroke.

Coronary heart disease is defined as a build up of plaque inside the coronary arteries making blood flow difficult or occluding it altogether. Indulging in three cups of coffee reduces the risk of this condition by 16%.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or drastically reduced; this deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients which can have detrimental effects. According the study, drinking coffee can reduce the risk of stroke by 30%.

At least for these diseases, three cups seemed to be the golden number. The study also showed that drinking more than three cups of coffee in a day wasn’t associated with harm, but the beneficial effects were less pronounced.

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High coffee consumption is associated with a lower incidence of cancer

Drinking a lot of joe is associated with a lower risk of several types of cancer – including prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, melanoma, oral cancer, leukaemia, non-melanoma skin cancer, and liver cancer.

Drinking any coffee at all is good for your liver

Compared to no coffee at all, drinking even one cup lowers the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by 29%, decreases the risk of liver fibrosis by 27%, lowers the risk of liver cirrhosis by 39%, and decreases the risk of chronic liver disease.

Coffee lowers the risk of metabolic disease like type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome

Drinking a lot of coffee versus just a cup or two lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes; furthermore, the risk continues to decrease with every increased coffee dose between one and six cups.

High coffee consumption reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome by 9% and decreases the risk of renal stones and gout compared to low coffee consumption.

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Coffee doesn’t seem to do much for diseases associated with your kidneys

The authors of the study mentioned a potential decreased risk of urinary incontinence and chronic kidney disease with coffee consumption, but the data didn’t reach statistical significance. So, it’s not proper to say there is any real effect here.

How coffee affects the risk of bone fracture is different for men and women

In terms of bone fractures, coffee is good for men and bad for women: coffee increases the risk of bone fracture for women and decreases the risk of bone fracture in men.

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Coffee is good for your brain

Drinking just one cup (or more) is associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, depression, and cognitive disorders (including Alzheimer’s disease).

There may be an association between drinking coffee and endometriosis

Similar to the results noted for coffee and diseases associated with the kidneys, the researchers noticed an association between drinking coffee and a higher risk of endometriosis, but the results weren’t significant.

High coffee consumption should be avoided during pregnancy

Drinking a lot of coffee during pregnancy comes with a higher risk of low birth weights, pregnancy loss, and premature birth.

Drinking any coffee at all, or high amounts of coffee, during pregnancy doesn’t appear to increase the risks of third trimester preterm births, neural tube defects, congenital malformations of the oral cleft, or congenital malformations of the cardiovascular system.

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Conclusion

A meta-analysis is about the best way you can make sense of a whole bunch of studies at one time. Interpreting the huge amount of scientific literature out there on whether or not you should drink coffee with this kind of study tells us that coffee is generally safe within the usual levels of intake (three to four cups per day).

And considering what we know about caffeine’s ability to help us train harder, longer, and help us think clearer with greater concentration, I think it’s safe to recommend a cup of coffee in your regular, daily routine.

If you’d like some recommendations on some great coffee, contact me; I’ve got exactly what you need.

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Stay Healthy!

Avoiding holiday and Christmas fatigue: 7 ways to keep your energy levels up

While the holiday season is a joyous, cheerful time of year, it can also be insane and draining.

Because you’re constantly on the go with Christmas parties, shopping, family coming to town, friends coming over, and the kids Christmas pageants (just to name a few), energy levels can be completely tapped by the first week of December.

Then you’re left fighting fatigue all the way through to New Years.

When you don’t have the energy, the holidays are an uphill battle; it turns fun occasions into obstacles and joy into stress.

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Luckily, there are scientifically backed ways to increase your energy and avoid holiday and Christmas fatigue.

I’ve listed 7 of the best ones here in this article; use them and you’ll come out of the holidays healthy and on top.

1. Move

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Exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re tired.

The mere thought of expending more energy when you’ve got nothing left in the tank is exhausting, but it seems to have the opposite effect.

In an article for WebMD, Kerry J. Stewart, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said, “Exercise has consistently been linked to improved vigor and overall quality of life.”

“People who become active have a greater sense of self-confidence. But exercise also improves the working efficiency of your heart, lungs, and muscles,” Stewart added. “That’s the equivalent of improving the fuel efficiency of a car. It gives you more energy for any kind of activity.

2. Yoga

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Yoga is one type of exercise that may be particularly effective for boosting energy; moreover, it doesn’t seem to matter how old you are when you do it.

Volunteers at a British University participated in a study consisting of one 60-minute yoga class per week for 6 weeks. At the end of the trial, they reported greater feelings of clear-mindedness, composure, elation, energy, and confidence.

Another study included 135 generally healthy men and women 65-85 years old. The participants took part in a yoga program for 6 months.

Compared to other groups in the study, the yogis came out further ahead in a number of quality-of-life measures related to well-being, energy, and fatigue.

3. Drink Water

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“Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners,” said Lawrence E. Armstrong to News Medical. Armstrong is a professor of physiology at the University of Connecticut and one of the lead scientists of a study investigating dehydration and energy.

They looked at 25 women and 26 men, all healthy and active.

They found dehydration is an energy killer; it alters a person’s mood, energy level, and even their ability to think clearly.

“Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling – especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men,” commented Harris Lieberman, one of the studies’ co-authors.

4. Supplement with Fish Oils

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In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants were asked to take fish oil supplements for three months. As a result of the supplementation, the researchers found evidence of reduced mental fatigue and faster reaction times in 18-35-year-olds.

5. Adaptogens

healthy wheys corey munegatto isagenix 6 adaptogens that will help you combat stress and maintain your energy

 

Stress and fatigue go hand in hand. Little bouts of stress are tolerable, but when the little bouts turn into long stretches, stress can manifest as a continual feeling of fatigue.

Chronic stress, the kind that lasts for days and weeks at a time, can directly deplete your energy reserves leaving you feeling depressed, worried, irritable, and exhausted. It can also affect other areas of your life critical to recovering from stress: sleep, for example.

If you’re not sleeping because your stressed, you can’t adequately recover from the previous days stressors and you won’t be equipped for what’s coming up tomorrow. Then you’re behind the eight ball and the cycle continues.

Adaptogens are compounds that help prevent the physical and chemical effects of stress – they’re something I’ve brought up on this website a few times before.

Adaptogens, by helping maintain homeostasis during a stressful event, prevent fatigue. Here are 6 that are particularly useful.

6. Combine Carbohydrates with Protein

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Consuming sugar makes us sleepy because sugar influences a group of cells in the brain that secrete orexin.

Orexin is a neuropeptide that regulates a myriad of mental properties, including sleepiness and hunger.

Sugar slows down the secretion of orexin from this group of cells and this makes us feel slow and sleepy. Interestingly, protein has the opposite effect on orexin secretion – protein increases it.

Therefore, the sleepy effects of sugar intake can be counteracted with protein.

7. Be Fair to Yourself

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There could be one simple reason you can’t maintain your energy levels this holiday season: you’re just trying to do way too much.

There are a lot of demands on our time, especially around the holidays. The mere thought of it can make a person want to curl into a ball and whimper.

That’s why it’s so important, at this time of year more than any other, to be realistic with yourself about your workload and your schedule.

If you spread yourself too thin, you’re going to feel fatigue no matter what you do. And you, and everyone else around you, will suffer for it.

Conclusion

Keeping the “gitty up” in your step can be tough this time of year. But there are certain things you can do to help you keep your energy levels as high as possible.

Give a few of my suggestions a try and let me know if they work for you in the comments.

If you’d like to know more, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.

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6 adaptogens that will help you combat stress and maintain your energy

Stress is something we’ve all felt. Most of us have probably been completely overwhelmed by it at some point in our lives.

It’s your body’s way of responding to demand or threat. In our primitive days stress helped us react to the giant jungle cat nipping at our heels and trying to tear us limb from limb.

Nowadays the threat might not be so immediate, but we still have the same biological wiring.

And it’s called the stress response.

The stress response is a state of increased mental and physical arousal activated when you perceive danger.

This kind of arousal in small doses is a good thing.

It can help you stay focused, energetic, and alert during emergency situations. It can also help you rise to meet new challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, it sharpens your concentration under pressure, and it keeps you on task when you’d rather be relaxing and watching TV.

Too much stress on the other hand, is a bad thing.

It can have detrimental effects on your physical and emotional well-being. Stress is an energy killer. And it’s intimately linked to fatigue.

Many of us don’t deal with stress in healthy ways. We resort to alcohol, stimulants, and comfort food. These unhealthy habits provide short-term comfort, but work against our health in the long run.

A healthy alternative for dealing with stress without the negative side effects are adaptogens.

What are adaptogens?

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Adaptogens are a group of herbal supplements that can prevent the physical and chemical effects of stress on the body.

By counteracting these effects, they help prevent fatigue and maintain energy levels. Especially, when they’re taken in advance of a stressful event.

There are many different adaptogens. And they don’t all work the same way.

Adaptogens were first studied scientifically in the former Soviet Union.

The research scientists Nicolai Lazarev and Israel Brekhman were looking for a way to naturally improve strength, stamina, and energy in soldiers, athletes, and cosmonauts.

Much of their work was unknown to most of the world because of the Iron Curtain, which prevented open contact between the Soviet Union and Western countries.

With the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, however, the information became available.

Since then, many people have used these natural supplements to combat the harmful psychological and physical effects of stress.

Here are 6 effective adaptogens proven to help combat stress, fatigue, and maintain energy levels.

  1. Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum)

Wolfberry is high in antioxidants.

It contains:

  • Phenols
  • Polysaccharides, vitamins A and C
  • Beta carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Selenium
  • Nicotinic acid

Antioxidants are compounds that counteract the cell damage that can occur when an organism is stressed and have been associated with lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

  1. Eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Eleuthero root is also known as Siberian ginseng. This herb is an adaptogen used to reduce fatigue.

It has been shown to improve physical performance during periods of high intensity exercise and preliminary studies in animal research suggest eleuthero root is neuroprotective, which means it can protect the brain from harm.

  1. Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola is also useful for combating fatigue.

It can significantly reduce the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion; the conditions that generally result in burnout.

In addition to its anti-fatigue capabilities, rhodiola also can:

 

  1. Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera)

Ashwaganda is mostly noted for its ability to prevent anxiety.

However, it performs many other functions in the brain and the rest of the body too.

Ashwaganda has been shown to:

 

  1. Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)

Ayurvedic medicine has employed the use of bacopa for centuries in the treatment of epilepsy and asthma.

As an adaptogen it is used to improve cognition by reducing anxiety and improving memory formation.

Most of the scientific studies involving bacopa’s ability to increase cognition have been conducted in the elderly. However, there is research to support bacopa’s effectiveness in young populations as well making it a suitable adaptogen for people of all ages.

  1. Schizandra (Schisandra chinensis)

Schizandra is known as the “five flavor berry”. This because it contains all five of the basic flavours. That is: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, and bitter.

It has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to nourish the kidneys and heart.

The majority of research on schizandra as an adaptogen was performed in Russia decades ago. And most of it cannot be accessed.

From the limited Western evidence available and research that can be accessed from Russia, schizandra increases work accuracy and antioxidant protection while also decreasing feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.

Are adaptogens safe for everyone?

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Generally.

There are a few groups of people who should talk to a medical health professional before using them, however.

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult a physician. Most adaptogens have not been adequately tested for pregnant and breast-feeding women so their safety under these conditions is not clear.

People who are taking other medications should also consult a physician or pharmacist when trying something to new to make sure there aren’t any potential negative interactions you may not be aware of.

Conclusion

Stress is a fact of life. We cannot rid ourselves of it.

But we can provide our body with the proper resources to better manage the physical response to stress.

Adaptogens are a healthy way to increase your capacity to deal with stress and improve your mental and physical performance.

Let me know what you think about adaptogens in the comments.

If you’d like to know more about adaptogens, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.

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