Coffee and Alcohol

Coffee and Alcohol: Drink Up But Drink Smart

Oh no – not doom and gloom on two such commonly ingested beverages! No worries. Just a few notable notes so you can make informed decisions on both your coffee and alcohol consumption. In moderation, coffee and alcohol cannot harm you. That is unless you have a sensitivity or health concern specifically harmed by either.

Coffee Consumption: The Good News

Coffee and Alcohol: Drink Up But Drink Smart
Coffee and Alcohol: Drink Up But Drink Smart

Drink coffee made from coffee beans that are organically grown, properly harvested, stored, and roasted. Drinking coffee in moderation may have some beneficial properties. For type 2 diabetics, reviews of 9 studies of coffee and diabetes by two show that drinking coffee may be the best counter to your sweet tooth. Source: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In short, experts consider moderate consumption to be up to 300mg daily. That would be the amount contained in 2 to 3 cups of coffee or five to six cans of caffeine containing soft drinks.

Coffee Capers

Pesticides. They’re the main problem in coffee consumed in North America. Much of the coffee is actually grown in 3rd world countries where they use toxins such as DDT. Coffee arabica tends to be from Central or South America while coffee robusta from Indonesia or Africa. To be free of such toxins, look for organic coffee.

Those white paper filters used to make your coffee could be a culprit in the negative effects. Numerous studies confirm the existence of dioxin residues in bleached paper coffee filters. Dioxin can suppress the immune system, decrease vitamins A, D and K levels and cause bleeding in babies. Some research suggests dioxin can harm the thyroid hormone regulatory system in addition to having carcinogenic potential. Going with the tan-colored, natural paper filters is a good idea.

Decaffeinated Coffee

This is a conundrum. People who are sensitive to caffeine in regular coffee will turn to decaf to help themselves – but then are exposed to the various chemicals used in the process of decaffeinating. Those chemicals may include:

  • Trichloroethylene.
  • Trichloroethane.
  • Ethyl acetate.
  • Methylene chloride.

There is an alternative: Swiss water-processed decaffeinated coffee. More research is needed on the effects of the above chemicals used to decaffeinate coffee. Just to be on the safe side and to avoid consuming the potentially harmful substances, give the Swiss water processed decaffeinated coffee a try. Especially if you need to avoid caffeine. There are many brands available – just do a quick Bing or Yahoo! search to find options.

What Happens When We Drink Alcohol?

Cocktail
First, your liver has to process alcohol. While busy with this task your liver’s ability to perform up to 500 other functions can be reduced. Second, when you drink alcohol to excess, as in binge drinking, your liver starts to store the excess alcohol. Too much of this behavior can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis.

Alcohol decreases your body’s ability to detoxify and inhibits white blood cells, which can negatively affect your immune system. Research also shows links to cancers of the mouth, esophagus, liver and breast from excessive alcohol consumption. According to Cancer.org (PDF):

The way alcohol causes cancer is not completely understood. It could be that alcohol itself causes cancer by increasing hormone levels or it may be carcinogenic because of the way it is metabolized, which can make cells more vulnerable to other carcinogens.

You don’t have to be an alcohol or health expert to understand it’s absolutely best to avoid alcohol in excess.

There you have it. Two of our favorite beverages – coffee and alcohol – can be safely drunk in moderation. In excess, we may have some health problems to contend with. Coffee and alcohol. Drink up, but drink smart.

Fit Tip

As in most things in life, just make those smart, informed choices and practice moderation.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) were (and still are) powerful carcinogens. A carcinogen is any substance or agent that tends to produce a cancer. Polychlorinated biphenyls are found in things such as asbestos and radon. However, we are also forced to consume it in our foods. Many unaware of its presence! We are exposed to many substances at any given time. This includes those we encounter at work, school, or home, in the food we eat and in the air we breathe.

But it’s almost impossible anyone could know precisely what they’ve been exposed to. PCBs are toxic. They can provoke serious health effects that go beyond cancer. They can also play a role in:

  • Hormone disruption.
  • Reduced ability to reproduce.
  • Skin toxicity.
  • Immune system disorders.

Short period of exposure are not considered to have adverse effects on health. The levels would have to be extremely high. This is a rare occurrence. (Source: Food Safety Authority of Ireland)

In spite of all the unavoidable exposure, both Canada and the United States did ban the use of PCBs in food back in 1970. But agreement on how much is too much is difficult to come by. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that levels as low as fifty parts per billion are associated with an increased risk.  Health Canada and the United States Food and Drug Administration argue that foods with less than two thousand parts per billion (ppb) of PCBs are fine to eat.

The truth is, no one really knows.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls In Our Food

It is estimated that up to 90 percent of human exposure to dioxins and PCBs results from the consumption of food, mainly those of animal origin. Fruit and vegetables provide only a minor contribution.

Polychlorinated biphenyls are notorious for being found in salmon and other types of farmed fish. They are also found in chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and even milk. A carcinogen called Acetaldehyde is in every beverage you consume that contains alcohol. Salmon accounts for about 6 percent of PCBs ingested by humans.

 

Polychlorinated biphenyls - levels in foods
Polychlorinated biphenyls – levels in foods

 

This graph shows the absolute amount of polychlorinated biphenyls in various foods. It is taken from a FDA market basket study.

We should be concerned about the level of polychlorinated biphenyls in our daily diet. We should know where to look for ways to reduce our consumption that make sense, while not compromising other health benefits, such as that of omega-3 in salmon.

Free download: A List of Known Chemicals Containing PCBs

Chemicals containing Polychlorinated Biphenyls
Chemicals containing Polychlorinated Biphenyls

 

Fighting the Fat Fight

Fighting the Fat Fight

Is it your goal to lose weight?

Then look to gaining muscle! You can gain muscle and literally decrease your body size without losing a pound. Yes, it’s true! So many are so obsessed watching the numbers on their scale they just aren’t seeing the bigger picture in the fat fight.

Try ignoring your scale for a while and instead focus on some muscle toning. If you’re a scale-obsessed person (I, too was guilty of this for YEARS), it can be tough. But it could literally be essential to your long term fat fight.

Look at That Fat

Fat Fight!
Fat Fight!

Fat doesn’t look good, does it? No… Fat covers up your natural muscle with a thick layer of ugly, spongy insulation, giving your body that soft, doughy look. When you strengthen the muscles, you burn off some of that spongy fat allowing the shapely contours of your muscles to become defined. Definitely more attractive. That’s the desired outcome of a good fat fight!

But aesthetic value is just a bonus. The real benefits are the health benefits.

Consider gaining muscle as your secret weapon in your fat fight. That muscle will fight for you ’round the clock, even while you sleep.

Body Fat Fight

According to Dr. William Evans of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, the average American loses 6.6 pounds of lean body mass every decade after age 20. The rate of muscle loss increases after age 45. With advancing age, most people gain fat even when body weight doesn’t change much. The muscle shrinks as the fat accumulates.

It’s a good idea to measure your body fat as opposed to obsessing over the numbers on your scale. Body composition focuses on body fat and lean body mass. If you can determine that you’re losing fat while gaining or even maintaining muscle, you know your program is working.

Measuring Your Body Fat

So how do you go about measuring body fat composition? Well, first you have to accept the fact that gaining muscle to replace fat is a slow process. While physically this is better for you, psychologically it’s frustrating and discouraging. You need an accurate and scientific method of measuring your progress. There are at least a dozen methods of body composition testing. The most popular and widely used are as follows.

  1. Underwater Weighing (Hydrostatic): You are submerged under water while sitting on a chair that hangs from a scale. The basis for hydrostatic weighing is the fact that fat floats and muscle sinks. The fatter you are, the more buoyant you will be, and the more buoyant you are, the less you will weigh underwater. The leaner you are, the more easily you will sink, and the more you will weigh underwater. Underwater weighing is interesting, but not very practical.
  2. Bio Electric Impedance Analysis: – Bio-electric impedance analysis (BIA) measures body fat by testing the electrical conductivity of your body’s tissues. Because the test is based on your body’s water status, the results can fluctuate based on your state of hydration, but overall research finds BIA fairly reliable.
  3. BIA Body Fat Scales and hand grip tests – Tanita makes the best body fat scale. Omron sells the most popular hand gripper. The scale measures the lower body while a hand grip test measures the upper body.

There are many other methods used to measure body fat, including total body potassium, total body electrical conductivity, isotopic dilution, urinary creatine excretion, total body calcium, total body nitrogen, total plasma creatinine, computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, neutron activation analysis, and dual photon absorpitometry.

Say what? No worries. None of these are practical for personal use on a fat loss program.

Fat Fight Skin-Fold Testing

AccuMeasureThe most practical approach to measure your body fat is one we purposely waited to mention – skin-fold testing. It’s easy and when done properly, very accurate in determining your body fat percentage. All you need is a simple little, inexpensive device called a “skinfold caliper“.

The only downside is potential errors from taking the skinfold with improper technique. For example, taking a horizontal fold when it should be a vertical fold. But it isn’t a technique that’s difficult to perfect. And one last tip: Whichever caliper you pick, stick to it. Switching from one to another can make results appear different.

This doesn’t make one device “wrong”, it’s just that there can be fluctuations between different brands.

 “Although you can find more glamorous contraptions, a skilled “pincher” can get a better estimate than with any other method except dissection. The only drawback to using calipers is operator error; but practice does make perfect.” -Dan Duchaine

Now go pinch an inch!  🙂

Eat Better. On YOUR Terms.

Eat Better. On YOUR Terms.

Eat Better.
Eat Better.

Eat better. No doubt that can make a difference in your overall health. Like you haven’t heard that before!? Well, that’s because it is true. But you needn’t go to overt extremes. There are “forces” out there convincing us everything is bad – bad, bad, bad food! It’s just not so. No food is bad food. It’s what has been done to our food that can be bad.

But you won’t hear government nannies or food industry professionals explain that to you.

For example, many don’t realize that the rise in lactose intolerance is from the pasteurization of milk. The very thing we’re told makes it “better for us”. From FiascoFarm:

Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, alters vitamin B12, and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

That’s some pretty heavy information – and that’s just the beginning. After you’re done here, visit their page if you’d like to learn more stunning facts on milk and what’s been done to it that harms us.

And how about sugar? Government regulations insist that white sugar must have all the vitamins and minerals removed so that it can be labeled sucrose. These nutrients and fiber waste products are the substances that help your body digest sugar without massive blood sugar fluctuations.

Instead of things like this being spread throughout the news outlets, all we hear is how we eat too many fatty foods.  We eat too much animal protein, too much sugar and too many packaged, prepared, or fast foods. Pure cane sugar is nature’s food. Eggs are natures food. Butter is natures food – margarine, man made and once touted as “better for us” turns out to be a main culprit of deadly trans fat.

Are you beginning to see where the real fat fight is? It didn’t start with us.

A study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified more than 55 pesticides that can leave cancer causing residues in food. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, the use of pesticides has risen more than tenfold since the 1940s. Pesticides are not water-soluble. This means that cannot just be “washed off”.

In your body, pesticides like to attach to fat cells, starting a dangerous process. There are some experts that believe this is a large part of the reason cigarettes became a target for cancer of just about everything. In other words, a very corrupt cover up. Is it true? Honestly, no one knows for sure, but it’s worth consideration. Another punch in the fat fight.

The point here is, stop getting down about how and what you eat. Now granted, too much of any of those above mentioned foods aren’t good for anyone. Too much of ANYTHING isn’t good for anyone. However, sticking to foods in their most natural state is not harmful, it’s healthful.

Our bodies were not designed to handle all the artificial chemicals used by the food-processing industry such as artificial colors, flavors, flavor enhancers, bleach, texture agents, conditioners, ripening gases, waxes, firming agents, nutrient enrichment, preservatives, heavy metals, and other chemicals.

Try to avoid pre-packaged meals cranked out in factories and heavily processed foods. When you purchase frozen fruit and vegetables, check the ingredients to make sure your getting mainly the vegetable or fruit. Don’t use margarine in place of butter.

In summary, eat better yes, but on your terms. Mother nature keeps it simple. Follow her lead.

Think Good Feel Good.

Think Good Feel Good.

Did you know that thinking positive, affirming thoughts can truly affect your fitness and overall health? When you think good thoughts your body actually creates feel good hormones! These hormones give you more energy, balance your mood and can even contribute to your body’s healing abilities.

Think good feel good. 🙂

Beware: it works the same if you’re a negative thinker. If you have dark stressful thoughts, that sends negative messages throughout your body causing negative results. Lethargy, depression, etc. If you are frequently stressed out and miserable, your body will secrete hormones that wreak havoc over time.

Think good feel good.

Super Quick Fit Tip

Touching Toes
Touching Toes

Here’s a super quick way to release some of that tension caused by stress: Touch your toes. Doing this opens up your hip joints and stretches your hamstrings, areas where we tend to store a lot of tension.

Think positive!

If you find yourself stressed, it can be difficult to alter your thinking process from worries to happy thoughts. There are any number of things to worry us but we’ve mentioned it before and will keep doing so. In spite of the negative stress you must deal with, try to stop the bad thoughts. Replace them with something positive.

It truly is a “mind over matter” concept. Give it a try; you could start by simply telling yourself repeatedly: “I can survive this“.

Think good feel good.

Obviously it would be difficult to tell yourself you’re “So happy!” when your world feels like it’s falling apart. But you can generate positive thoughts of survival instead of wallowing in negative thoughts of despair.

Feel Good!
Feel Good!

If you find yourself really having a difficult time thinking anything positive, try this exercise for the spirit.

Text, call or email three to five friends or loved ones’ and tell each of them one thing you enjoy about him or her. Something that makes or has made YOU smile. That forces your thoughts to good things. And … You’ll make them feel good, too and that will make you feel better.

What goes around truly does come around!

It’s a about choices we can make granted to us by human free will.

Make positive choices. Think good feel good.

Fitness Shake Recipe

Fitness Shake Recipe

A delicious, health fitness shake recipe with skim milk, banana, yogurt, wheat germ, vanilla and sweetener to keep the sugar down. All nicely spiced with cinnamon. Bananas have lots of potassium and can give flagging energy levels a boost.

Fitness Shake Recipe
Fitness Shake Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups skim milk
2 medium-size ripe bananas, cut into l-inch pieces
1/2 cup fat-free plain or *banana yogurt
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/3 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 packets sweetener or 1/3-cup measurable sweetener of choice
Ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions

Process all ingredients, except cinnamon, in blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Recipe makes four (8-ounce) servings.

Notes: *For a more intense banana flavor, go with the banana yogurt. To mute the banana flavor a bit, use the plain yogurt.

The ground cinnamon is optional, but recommended. It pairs tastefully with the banana flavor and adds a healthy sweet spice taste.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 190
Fat: 2g
Carbohydrate: 33g
Cholesterol: 4mg
Sodium: 134mg
Protein: 12g
Exchanges: 1-1/2 Milk, 1 Fruit, 1/2 Fat

You may also like…

  • Liquid Meals – Meal substitutes are a convenient way to reduce calories. Meal substitutes should provide protein and be low in fat and calories. They can also be considered fitness shakes.
  • Pineapple Milkshake – Combine pineapple, ice cream, milk, and cinnamon. Process until smooth and creamy.