Should You Be Drinking Coffee?

What’s right for some may not be right for others. Caffeine is one of those things that has both positive and negative effects on the body. Only you can decide if caffeine is something you want to incorporate into your diet. I personally avoid it, but you should make an educated decision about what feels right for you. Here are some perks and quirks of caffeine to consider when making your decision.

Ten Perks of Caffeine

  1. Alertness: Even in relatively low doses of 250 milligrams, caffeine has been shown to stimulate alertness and improve mental performance[1].
  2. Mood: At 250 milligrams, some report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability[2].
  3. Concentration: Studies suggest that caffeine can help you perform a variety of cognitive tasks, such as recognizing visual patterns, more quickly[3].
  4. Performance: Some sources note that caffeine allows athletes to exercise for longer durations without hitting exhaustion. Although the mechanism is not yet known, caffeine affects the utilization of glycogen during workouts. Glycogen is the main fuel for muscles. Once depleted, exhaustion occurs. Caffeine decreases the use of glycogen stores during workouts up to 50 percent – allowing for longer workouts[4].
  5. Reduced Muscle Pain: Some researchers have found that caffeine may potentially stimulate the release of B-endorphins and hormones that depress the sensation of pain or discomfort[5].
  6. Faster Effects of Medication: Caffeine constricts blood vessels and helps the body absorb medications more quickly, which is why it is added to some pain medications.
  7. Diabetes Prevention: Coffee contains minerals and antioxidants which help prevent diabetes. Frank Hu, M.D., one of the authors of The Harvard Study, theorizes it may be because caffeine stimulates muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently.
  8. Antioxidants: Antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. If a free radical is formed in a cell and it is not neutralized, it can damage the DNA of the cell.
  9. Disease Prevention: Caffeine keeps dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Harvard researchers have found that men who drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day are half as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as those who refrain from consuming caffeinated beverages.
  10. Asthma Relief: Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can be therapeutic for people with asthma. Caffeine in the form of coffee may be used to prevent an asthma attack in emergency cases, but is not intended to replace medication.

Ten Quirks of Caffeine

  1. Cardiovascular Problems: Approximately 4 cups of coffee or a beverage with equivalent amounts of caffeine can raise blood pressure for many hours. The measured blood pressure levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease[6].
  2. Stress: Caffeine consumption in the early morning affects the body until bedtime, amplifying stress levels throughout the day. Caffeine increases stress hormones and elevates one’s perception of stress. Decreasing coffee and caffeinated beverages will help to lower often exaggerated stress-reactions[7].
  3. Emotional Disturbances: When more than 2g of caffeine enters the body, the heart becomes stimulated and blood vessels dilate. Shortly after, blood pressure increases, causing bronchial relaxation in the lungs and increased breathing. These physiological reactions tend to cause irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and agitation[8].
  4. Blood Sugar Swings: Type 2 diabetics should be aware that caffeine may potentially impair insulin’s action, causing a detectable rise in blood sugar levels. Approximately 2 to 2 ½ cups per day may cause this effect[9].
  5. Gastrointestinal Problems: Because it is a stimulant, caffeine can cause increased contractions of stomach muscles – possibly causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and increased bowel movements. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or colitis may want to be extra cautious before choosing caffeinated beverages[10].
  6. Nutritional Deficiencies: Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and trace minerals.
  7. Male Health Problems: Research shows that men can significantly reduce their risk for urinary and prostate problems by making dietary changes, which include eliminating coffee and caffeine[11].
  8. Female Health Problems: Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight and menopausal problems such as hot flashes are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they tend to have a decreased ability to detoxify caffeine[12].
  9. Aging: Caffeine tolerance may decrease with age. Production of DHEA, melatonin and other vital hormones decline with age. Caffeine helps to speed up this process. Caffeine also dehydrates the body, contributes to aging of the skin and kidneys, inhibits DNA repair and slows the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins[13].
  10. Adrenal Exhaustion: Caffeine is a stimulant which binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of complex reactions which causes an increase of stimulation at the adrenal glands. This can increase vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue[14].

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

[1] Zwyghuizen-Doorenbos A, Roehrs TA, Lipschutz L, Timms V, Roth T. Effects of caffeine on alertness. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1990;100(1):36-9.

[2] Merideth A. Addicott and Paul J. Laurienti. A comparison of the effects of caffeine following abstinence and normal caffeine use. Psychopharmacology (Berl). Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 December 1

[3] “Caffeine – How much is too much?.” MayoClinic. N.p., 3 Nov 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[4] “Caffeine – How much is too much?.” Rice University. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[5] Jennifer, Warner. “Caffeine may ease workout pain and soreness.” WebMD. N.p., 17 Jan 2007. Web. 22 Dec 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20070117/caffeine-may-ease-workout-pain>.

[6] Boyles, Salynn. “Is Caffeine bad for your heart?.” WebMD. N.p., 01 Aug 2002. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[7] “Caffeine’s Effects are Long-Lasting and Compound Stress.” DukeHealth. Duke University Health Systems, 03 Nov 2004. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[8] Kassem, Noreen. “Emotional effects of caffeine.” Livestrong. N.p., 24 Nov 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[9] Collazo-Clavell, Maria. “Caffeine: Does it affect blood sugar?.” MayoClinic. N.p., 03 Feb 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[10] McLaughlin, August. “Caffeine and Gastrointestinal Problems.” Livestrong. N.p., 13 Jun 2011. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[11] “Coffee and Prostate Health: Is it Bad for You?.” Web BPH. N.p., 02 Mar 2011. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[12] “Caffeine & Women’s Health.” Food Insight. N.p., 15 Oct 2009. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[13] MacDougall, Caroline. “Caffeine, Stress & Aging.” Healthy.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

[14] Doyle, Marek. “Caffeine, Stress & Aging.” Healthy.net. N.p., 3 Nov 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.

Are You Deficient In Iodine? You May Be At Risk…

Iodine deficiency is a silent epidemic. Iodine is typically found in iodized table salt and in sea vegetables. In the American culture, we have decreased our use of table salt and eat almost no sea vegetables. As a result, there is an alarmingly high amount of Americans who unknowingly suffer from iodine deficiency.

Iodine is essential and especially crucial for brain development in children. It also plays a central role in healthy function of your thyroid gland. Inadequate iodine intake can lead to weight gain, depression, decreased energy, various cancers and heart disease! As you can see it is crucial to ensure that your body is getting sufficient iodine intake.

Adding sea vegetables into your diet is a great way to boost your iodine intake without having to increase your sodium intake. In our house, I sprinkle dulse or kelp granules on many of our meals to ensure we are getting adequate iodine intake. Sushi rolls are also a great way to increase your sea vegetable intake. I also use kombu when cooking beans or grains, which adds iodine and makes them easier to digest. If you choose to use salt as a source of iodine, be sure to use iodized salt.

The following are a few great food based items that you can incorporate into your diet to naturally boost your iodine intake:

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

Reduce Stress & Improve Sleep Naturally With Your Feet

Today’s world is always go, go go. It’s no wonder many of us have a difficult time shutting down and sleeping at night. Our brains are going at full speed all day long, stress is high and we are often using our electronics late into the evening. There are many natural ways to help your body sleep better including breathing exercises, essential oils, turning off electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime and even some natural supplements you can take. However, one of my favorite ways to reduce stress and improve sleep naturally involves your feet…Earthing!

The theory behind Earthing is that our bodies are designed to come into contact with the Earth (a “grounding” force) on a regular basis. Positive electrons in the form of free radicals can build up in our bodies and direct contact with the ground balances this out as it is a negative grounding charge. Our bodies and cells have electrical energy, and with our constant use of Electromagnetic waves, Wi-Fi and mobile phone waves, many of us have a high amount of positive electrons built up in our bodies. Direct contact with the Earth helps to rebalance the body’s charge and bring it back to its natural state.

When Early Man lived, daily contact with the ground was a regular part of life. They didn’t have shoes or homes to prevent them from coming into contact with the Earth as they went about their day. In modern society, the amount of time our bare feet ever actually come into contact with the ground outside is minimal.

For example, have you ever noticed how much better you sleep when you are at the beach? Walking in the sand and water, contacting the Earth throughout the day and exposure to the natural sunlight can do wonders for rebalancing the body.

What Is Earthing Good For?

According to emerging research, Earthing can be beneficial in:

  • Reducing inflammation by defusing excess positive electrons
  • Reducing chronic pain
  • Improving Sleep (I can vouch strongly for this!)
  • Increasing Energy (I noticed this also)
  • Lowering stress and promoting calmness by reducing stress hormones.
  • Normalizing biological rhythms including circadian rhythm
  • Improving blood pressure and blood flow
  • Relieving muscle tension and headache (I noticed this)
  • Lessens menstrual and female hormone symptoms
  • Speeds healing- used in some places to prevent bed sores
  • Can eliminate jet lag
  • Protecting the body from EMFs
  • Shortens recovery time from injury or athletic activity
  • Reducing or eliminating snoring
  • Helping  support adrenal health

How Do I “Earth?”

If you have time and access to walking barefoot outdoors each day, this is the best and most inexpensive way to try Earthing. Remove your shoes and socks, walk in the dirt, grass, sand or even ocean to allow the Earth’s energy to rebalance you.

If you are unable to go barefoot outside because of your location or lifestyle, you can try an Earthing Mat. You can place the mat on the floor and put your feet on it throughout the day (a great option for those who work a desk job), or even get a half mat and place in it your bed so you can experience the benefits while you’re sleeping. These mats allow the Earth’s natural electrons to flow up through the mat, regardless of where you are located.

Since the weather is getting warmer, now is a great opportunity to practice Earthing and get back in touch with nature. Try Earthing outside or get a mat and let me know what you think!

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

How Your Food Affects Your Energy

Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on using foods to prevent and treat disease. Knowledge of food energetics can help one build a stronger sense of health and well-being by eating different foods that impose different effects[1]. Like the saying, “you are what you eat.”

The principles of macrobiotics involve creating a yin and yang balance in all aspects of life – including the food combinations we choose to eat.

Eating from your own garden or buying your produce from the local farmers’ market will leave you feeling more connected to your home or local community. When you eat seasonal, locally grown produce, the body is more able to maintain balance from the inside out.

It is beneficial to take advantage of cooling fruits and lighter greens in the summertime, when they are at their peak in harvest. At the same time, heartier vegetables, such as deeply rooted carrots and squashes, grow more abundantly in the wintertime, and are going to add warmth to the body. It’s good to maintain a balance of eating seasonally as well as locally, as much as possible, to stay in harmony with the natural order of things.

   Quality Food Preparation
Grounded

Relaxed

Root vegetables

Sweet vegetables

Meat, fish

Beans

Stewing

Pressure Cooking

Baking

Light

Creative

Flexible

Leafy greens

Wheat, barley, quinoa

Fruit

Raw foods

Chocolate

Boiling

Steaming

Gas stove cooking

Tense

Anxious

Sugar

Caffeine

Alcohol

Microwave cooking

Electric stove cooking

Factory farming

Connected

Harmonious

Organic foods

Whole foods

Local foods

Brown rice

Home cooking

Home gardening

© Integrative Nutrition, Inc. | Reprinted with permission

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

[1] Leggett, Daverick. “The Energetics of Food.” Journal of Chinese Medicine. 56 (1998): n. page. Print.