Category Archives: Health

14 More Reasons to Drink Coffee

coffee

Coffee – So much has appeared about coffee recently. I came across the article “14 Reasons You Should Drink More Coffee Gallery” this morning. So what are their 14 rasons:

  1. It Could Make You Live Longer – drinking coffee could cut your risk of dying by 16 percent
  2. It Helps Your Heart Beat –  coffee can actually help prevent atrial fibrillation
  3. It Can Make Your Workout More Effective – coffee can improve your workout performance
  4. You Might Not Get to for Much Longer – coffee might not be around for much longer
  5. It Reduces Your Risk of Early Death – coffee lowers your risk of early death
  6. It’s Got Antioxidants – coffee is an incredibly rich source of antioxidants
  7. It’s Good for Your Brain – drinking three cups of coffee daily can help prevent Alzheimer’s
  8. Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes – drinking coffee was correlated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes
  9. It’s Good for Your Liver – increasing your coffee intake by at least two cups dramatically decreases your risk of liver cirrhosis, or chronic liver damage
  10. Lower Risk of Depression – increased coffee consumption results in a decreased incidence of depression among women
  11. It Strengthens Your DNA – drinking dark roast coffee decreased the frequency of DNA strand breaks
  12. It May Lower Risk of Cancer – studies show that coffee could reduce your risk of multiple types of cancer
  13. It Prevents Cavities – strong black coffee actually kills bacteria that lead to tooth decay
  14. It Boosts Productivity and Morale at Work – coffee enhanced productivity in a workplace setting and made people work better together

Of course there is that overwhelming fifteenth reason to drink coffee. IT JUST TASTES GOOD!

Advertisements

Hot Coffee Better for You than Cold Brewed

coffee

Coffee – Personally I like hot coffee. Now there is some scientific proof that hot coffee is better for you than the ever more popular cold brewed coffee. I read that today in the article “Hot brew coffee has higher levels of antioxidants than cold brew“. Specifically:

the researchers [from Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson University] found that hot-brewed coffee has higher levels of antioxidants, which are believed to be responsible for some of the health benefits of coffee.

Their report was published Oct. 30 in Scientific Reports (Scientific Reports is an online multidisciplinary, open access journal from the publishers of Nature) “Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee“.

So buy some freshly roasted coffee beans, grind them yourself, and brew up some healthy coffee!

Some Coffee Hacks

coffee

Coffee – As my followers know, I like coffee. I came across the article “7 coffee hacks that can save you time and money” today and wanted to share their suggestions. So how can you same time and money with your cofee:

  1. Invest in some gadgets – buy appliances to improve your coffee brewing experience
  2. Subscribe to a coffee subscription box – order your coffee beans on-line and have them delivered automatically so you will never be out of your favorite blend
  3. Make bulletproof coffee at home – as with many things, it is generally less expensive to prepare food at home rather than going out
  4. Add salt to take away the bitterness – I had never heard of this tip before.
  5. Whip up some cold brew in a few easy steps – again, make it at home instead of buying it out
  6. Make coffee ice cubes the right way – don’t dilute your iced coffee
  7. Add some spice – add to your coffee for taste and health

An interesting list. If I were living back at home in Texas I would consider a subscription service. On the other hand I have a Sprouts five minutes away from home so I can easily replenish my coffee bean supply without too much trouble.

I have always wanted to try Bulletproof coffee. This recipe might be my way. Hmm, adding salt to take away the bitter taste. I will have to try that! Unfortunately there are too many times when I am out and order coffee that it turns out to be bitter.

I have not tried cold brew coffee. Nor do I drink iced coffee. Perhaps adding tumeric to my coffee is something to try, though honestly I just like my coffee black most of the time.

Do you think that these ideas will improve your coffee consumption?

macOS New App Release – Time Out 2.5

schedule-dark

Product Announcements Dejal Systems, LLC of Portland, Oregon has released Time Out 2.5, an important update to their popular break reminder app for macOS. This free app sits in the background tracking the last time the user took a break. At regular intervals, it reminds users to take a short respite from their current tasks. Users can take the time to stand, stretch, and move around a bit, in order to refresh themselves. They can also schedule both long and short breaks, offering flexibility for the user’s own personal preferences.

Time Out offers two types of breaks by default. A “Normal” break by default will occur every hour, lasting for 10 minutes each time. This allows users to get up, move about, stretch, and even take a quick restroom break. “Micro” breaks occur every 15 minutes, lasting for a short 15 second period. This gives users the opportunity to adjust their posture, look away from the screen, and relax their focus. Both types of breaks are adjustable, and can be delayed, disabled, or deleted by the user at any time. Users can also add their own custom breaks, of any delay and length, and at any specific time. This feature is handy for reminders about fixed breaks such as lunch, or mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks.

When a break is due, Time Out slowly dims the screen, and displays a customizable break theme. During the break, the app’s progress bar displays the remaining break time, and also offers optional buttons to allow a break to be postponed or skipped, if needed. Once the break is over, the break screen then fades, allowing the user to return to work. Time Out then begins marking off the time until the next scheduled break.

“It’s very easy for users to fall into bad habits when using a computer for hours on end. People strive to complete their tasks on time, pushing themselves to the limit,” says Time Out developer David Sinclair. “The human body just isn’t built to sit in one spot for hours at a time, staring at a monitor and typing at a keyboard. That’s why I created Time Out. It offers a gentle and customizable way to remind users to take much needed breaks, reducing stress and increasing their productivity.”

Time Out has an option to show the time until the next break in the menu bar. By clicking the timer, users can access the app’s preferences, allowing them to make quick adjustments to the app’s settings if needed.

Version 2.5 adds Mojave dark mode support throughout the app. It also includes a new option on the Break Schedule page of the preferences to choose which days of the week a break is available. Using this option, you could indicate that breaks should only occur on weekdays, or only Fridays, or any other combination. The days of the week can combine with a time range, or apply all day on the indicated days.

Another new supporter option is on the Advanced preferences page: the ability to disable the app switcher, force quit, and shut down panels during a break. Most people probably don’t need this, but if you need a little extra encouragement to avoid skipping breaks, this might be helpful, when combined with existing options to disable the postpone and skip buttons.

The app offers several break themes, which use web standards such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, so users can customize the themes as they like. Themes can also make use of local web pages, or even pages from sites on the internet, so the amount of customization available is almost unlimited.

Customization doesn’t end with appearance; Time Out can also be set to perform various actions before, during, or after a break. The app can display a notification, speak text, play a sound, or even run an Automator or AppleScript action. All actions can be chained, allowing users to set as many, or as few actions as they prefer. What’s more, these actions can be set to execute at any time, be it just before a break, after a break starts, just before a break ends, or after it’s over. A number of useful scripts are included with the app, and custom scripts created by Time Out users are also available for download from the Time Out website.

The Preferences window allows users to view the breaks and their options, and it includes buttons along the top to quickly add a break, pause all breaks, postpone or skip the upcoming break, or get help. Users can also post about the app on Facebook and Twitter, as well as visit the Dejal social media pages.

Color-coded labels can be applied to any break to visually indicate which type of break is due next. Users can also view when the break is next due, how long ago the last break was, and also use hover buttons to start, postpone, disable, skip, or delete a break. Users can also apply and edit a global keyboard shortcut to immediately start a specific break. Other options include scheduling features that set the length of a break, how often it occurs, what time of day it occurs, and even the next date and time it is due to occur.

One customization option that will be especially useful for corporate users is the ability to add any app to an Exclusions list that tells Time Out to not allow break reminders when any app included in the list is open, or is the frontmost app. This option is particularly handy when users are performing such tasks as FaceTime calls, viewing videos, or making presentations.

Time Out keeps users at their best. It reminds them to make better use of their time by taking regular breaks in order to remain mentally sharp, productive, and healthy. Version 2.5’s new features make creating, scheduling, and controlling regular breaks an easy-to-include part of any workday.

System Requirements:

  • macOS Yosemite (10.10) or later; ready for Mojave (10.14)
  • 64-bit Processor
  • 13.8 MB

Pricing and Availability:
Time Out 2.5 is free, and is available worldwide through the Mac App Store in the Health and Fitness category, as well as the Dejal website. Advanced features are available via easy in-app donations.

More Proof That Coffee is a Good Habit

coffee
Coffee – I like coffee and because of that I am always on the lookout for serious, science-based articles promoting coffee as being beneficial to your health. Today I came upon “Another giant study confirms that your coffee habit is probably good for you” an article that fills that criteria.

The study that article refers to is “Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism” just published in the August JAMA Intern Medicine. This study included 502,641 participants of both genders ranging in age from 38 to 73 years old. The gist of the study showed that the more coffee consumed the less likely the participant was to die (The difference wasn’t a lot, but was statistically significant).

Don’t let this “more coffee” is better for you get out of hand. Remember that the Mayo Clinic recommends limiting yourself to about 400 milligrams of caffeine a day.  Consuming too much caffeine can certainly affect your sleep, not to mention causing headaches, irritability, restlessness, a fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors. To put that in some perspective, a Starbuck’s Venti (20oz) Pike Place brewed coffee contains 410 milligrams of caffeine. For those who brew their own coffee at home, an 8oz cup contains an average of 95 milligrams of caffeine so you can drink up to four cups while staying under the suggested limit.

 

Do You Need Or Even Want Protein in Your Coffee?

coffee

Coffee – I drink my coffee for . . . well, the coffee. Others though seem to want to combine their coffee drinking with packing in the protein. At least that is what the article “10 easy ways to add protein to your coffee” leads you to believe.

So what might you choose to add to your coffee? Here is their list:

  1. butter
  2. raw egg
  3. whey protein
  4. collagen powder
  5. high-protein creamers
  6. soy milk
  7. peanut butter
  8. nut butter and non-dairy milk
  9. dried mushrooms
  10. spirulina algae

Hmmm . . . I am not sure about this list myself. I have heard of “bulletproof” coffee made with butter, but never tried it. The rest of that list, other than the peanut butter, I think I will pass on.

Would you want these additives in your coffee? Personally I like mine black with no additives.

Optimizing Your Coffee Consumption

coffee

Coffee – I came across the article “How to optimize caffeine (and improve your productivity)” today which I thought had many good suggestions about how to drink our coffee for optimum effectiveness. Since coffee and the caffeine it contains gives us a boost by blocking adenosine molecules which make us feel sleepy, it is important to drink coffee before we start to feel groggy. By then the adenosine molecules have already bonded and the caffeine will have far less effect.

In general, the article has these suggestions we should follow for optimum caffeine stimulation:

  1. WAKE UP BEFORE YOU CAFFEINATE – delay coffee until 0930
  2. CAFFEINATE BEFORE YOU CRASH – drink coffee before the adenosine molecules bind
  3. TAKE A CAFFEINE NAP – drink coffee then take a 15-minute nap when feeling tired
  4. MAINTAIN ALTITUDE WITH GREEN TEA – swap high dosage coffee for lower dosage tea over a longer period
  5. BE STRATEGIC – drink coffee just before a boost of energy is needed for an important task
  6. LEARN YOUR LAST CALL FOR CAFFEINE – the half-life of caffeine is 5-6 hours, don’t drink it too late in the day

I think these are all very good suggestions, though I am not generally waiting until 0930 for my first cup. I am up between 0630 and 0730. I like my coffee earlier. While the caffeine nap sounds like a good idea, I doubt that many can actually do that while working.

Overall I do think that most would be better off if they think about their coffee and caffeine consumption instead of just sipping away blindly.

Are You Ready for the Moxi Robot During Your Next Hospital Stay?

Robots – I came across the article “Moxi Prototype from Diligent Robotics Starts Helping Out in Hospitals” this morning. The Moxi is a robot from Diligent Robotics. Moxi is being piloted it right now. As they say about Moxi on the company website:

Moxi is a friendly AI healthcare robot that serves as a vital supporting member of healthcare professional teams by conducting the team’s non-patient facing logistical tasks, so the staff has more time to focus on patient care. 

We were inspired to create Moxi to help support clinical staff members in hospitals with their fast paced and demanding roles. Clinical staff balance patient care with massive loads of manual logistical responsibilities, such as fetching and restocking supplies or setting up patient rooms for new admissions. With an extra hand from Moxi, who autonomously completes those manual logistical tasks end-to-end without assistance, clinical staff focus on what they want to do and what they, as caring human beings, are best at: direct patient care.

So don’t look for Moxi to perform your next operation. It is there to help bring items from storage to patient rooms. Those non-medical, logistical tasks.

BDt_qzzAjx_oEpvg

This is Diligent Robotics second iteration of the product, they previously had Poli. I have to say that part of what caught my eye with this article was 1) the fact that the CEO and co-founder Andrea Thomaz is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. I am an EE alumnus of UT Austin. And 2) that the company is based in Austin, TX, where my home is.

Part of what impressed me about this robot was how many off-the-shelf component parts they have used to assemble the new Moxi. That says to me that the robotics industry is beginning mature, and more robots will be appearing soon among us. Certainly having robots freeing people from the mundane logistics tasks will allow more focus on patient care.

On the other side of this advancement in tech is the potential displacement of staff that such robots will cause. However, with the costs of health care constantly increasing, finding ways of reducing costs is inevitable.

I will be very curious to hear how the pilots of Moxi go.

Coffee is Good for You!

coffee

Coffee – As I sit at my desk drinking my second cup of coffee of the day, I remember seeing the article “Is Coffee Good For You? This New Report Says It Is, So Drink Up” a few weeks ago and wanted to share it. What this article refers to is the study “Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings (taken from the published report):

This large prospective cohort study of a half million people found inverse associations for coffee drinking with mortality, including among participants drinking 1 up to 8 or more cups per day. No differences were observed in analyses that were stratified by genetic polymorphisms affecting caffeine metabolism.

So what does that say in plain English? Those that drink coffee may live a little longer than those who do not. This is true whether the consumer has just one or two, or even up to eight, cups of coffee each day. Coffee consumption can be part of a healthy diet. The health improvement seems to come from the ingredients other than the caffeine in the coffee beans.

This study is not so radically new. I posted in August of 2017 “Drink Coffee, Prolong Your Life” and “Evidence that Drinking Coffee May Slow Aging” in January of 2017. The evidence keeps piling up on the benefits of drinking coffee. So buy some freshly roasted beans, then grind away each morning to brew yourself a few cups of healthy goodness.

macOS New App Release – Breath Ball 2.1.2

520x293bb

Product Announcements – Independent development team, Fun Driven of Buers, Vorarlberg has released Breath Ball 2.1.2, their breathing guidance app for Mac OS X. The app helps users to relax by guiding their breathing rhythm. Breath Ball was originally developed for use by patients at the Neurological Therapy Center Gmundnerberg in Austria who suffer from severe brain damage caused by cancer, stroke, accidents and other issues.

Users of the app simply follow along by watching the on-screen ball. Folks are encouraged to find a comfortable place to sit, start the app, and then breathe in as the ball grows in size, exhaling as the ball shrinks. The breathing rate can be set to whatever is most comfortable for the user, they are then encouraged to slowly lower the rate until they reach the optimum relaxation rate of 6 breaths-per-minute.

“Breath Ball was originally designed for use by the patients at NTC Gmundnerberg, who suffer from severe brain damage caused by accidents, strokes, cancer and other medical incidents or conditions. The doctors there needed a mindful breathing app that would be easy to use by even the most challenged of patients,” shares Michael Holl, the founder of Fun Driven. “We created the app, and have continually worked to make it as easy as possible to use by anyone who needs to relax from stress.”

Breath Ball makes it easy for anyone to relax by regulating their breathing rhythms. The app’s “Simple” mode defaults to 6 breathing cycles per minute, but the cycles can be adjusted from 4 per minute to as fast as 15. The default rhythm of 6 cycles per minute has been found to help patients under severe stress to relax.

The app’s “Advanced” mode was created in response to requests from Breath Ball users. Advanced allows the configuration of the entire breathing cycle. Users can set the time in seconds for the length of time to breathe in, how long to hold a breath, the length of time to breathe out, and also how long to wait before once again breathing in.

The Advanced mode is especially helpful for users who would like to configure custom breathing patterns, such as Dr. Andrew Weil’s well known 4-7-8 breathing pattern. The exercise is designed to help users fall asleep quickly by inhaling for 4 counts, holding the breath in for 7 counts, and exhaling to an 8 count. Dr. Weil believes the exercise can cause a user to fall asleep in as little as 60 seconds.

While the app is simple to use, any of its options can be easily customized by the user. All display colors can be adjusted, just in case the default blue/white color scheme isn’t to their liking. In addition there is a “hide controls after 5 seconds” option that hides anything that might distract the user. An “Audio Guide” option allows users to use the app with their eyes closed, by playing a sound effect to indicate when it’s time to breathe in, hold the breath, and then breathe out.

“Breath Ball has been a philanthropic project from the beginning, and it will continue to be just that, with no charge for its use. In addition, we are committed to responding to feedback from our users,” continued Michael. “Users are invited to use the app’s ‘Send Feedback’ function to share their feedback, along with any thoughts on how we can improve the app. Every feature we added since Breath Ball’s initial release has originated from user feedback. We hope everyone uses the app in good health.”

System Requirements:

  • Mac OSX 10.9
  • 19.7 MB

Breath Ball 2.1.2 is free and is available worldwide exclusively through the Mac App Store in the Medical category. The app is also available in iOS, Windows and Android versions.