Category Archives: Health

macOS New App Release – Breath Ball 2.1.2


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.


Coffee Flour?

Coffee – I had never heard about Coffee Flour until I read “What Is Coffee Flour? Here’s the Deal With the New “Superfood”” today. Just as the name implies, Coffee Flour is a flour made by either grinding up green coffee beans roasted at a lower temperature than what we drink or from a by-product of the normal coffee production process. You include it mixed with conventional flour in any recipe flour would be used in. The recommendation is to mix about 15-25% Coffee Flour with conventional flour. It will make baked goods a little darker in color and add a bit of flavor of flavor of dried figs per some who have tried it.

So why do you want to use Coffee Flour”? It does retain the caffeine that many of us enjoy a jolt of in the morning. It does not carry the bitter caramel aroma and coffee flavor that we expect with our morning cup. There are significant health benefits of using Coffee Flour (per vendor Coffee Flour):

  • More fiber per gram than whole grain wheat flour
  • More iron  per gram than fresh spinach
  • Less fat and more fiber per gram than coconut flour
  • More antioxidants per gram than a pomegranate
  • More protein per gram than fresh kale
  • More potassium per gram than a banana


Coffee Flour can be found at:

  • the ever popular Trader Joes
  • It can also be ordered on-line at ($8.99 per pound)
  • It can be ordered on-line from MarxFoods ($18 per pound)

This is something I will have to try .

13 Health Boosts of Chocolate

Chocolate – Behind coffee, chocolate is my next food vice. I found this list of the benefits of dark chocolate interesting and i wanted to share it.


Drink Coffee, Prolong Your Life


Coffee – While I just like the taste of coffee in the morning, I came across the article “Study Says 4 Coffees Daily Lowers Your Chance Of Death, So Starbucks Here We Come” that gave me added incentive to have my morning cup (or two or three or . . . ).

The European Society of Cardiology Congress recently published a report that relates increased coffee consumption to a lower risk of death. The study was conducted at Hospital de Navarra and included 20,000 participants over a 10 year period. The results:

Those who drank at least four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower rate of death than the participants who either never drank coffee or rarely did. Meanwhile, those who were 45 years old and up and drank two additional cups of coffee a day had a 30% lower rate of death.

So sit back and sip a few cups of coffee each morning and enjoy this world of ours a little longer.


Coffee Nap?


Coffee – I am not much in the way of taking naps. I always seem to feel worse afterwards. I did come across “Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone” recently, though the article is from two years ago.

So what is a ‘coffee nap”? Drink a cup of coffee, then take a quick nap. 

You would think that the coffee would keep you from sleeping, but if to lay your head down immediately after drinking the coffee, you have a window before the coffee takes affect. Nap then for 20 minutes and you will wake up not only benefiting from the nap, but also from the caffeine that has finally hit your system.

Studies cited in the article indicate that a coffee nap is more beneficial than either coffee or a nap in reviving you.



How much Caffeine is in Your coffee?


Coffee – Many stop on their way into work each morning and pick up a cup of coffee. How much caffeine are we getting when we do that? It varies. A lot.

BuzzFeed commissioned a study to see how much caffeine was in coffee from some of the most frequent stops (Starbucks, 7-Eleven, McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts). Samples were taken from shops in New York City and in San Francisco.

First, their results showed that East Coast coffee is stronger, on average, than West Coast coffee. The other surprising outcome was that 7-Eleven coffee had the most (280 mg) caffeine. All the samples were medium cups of coffee and black (the way coffee should always be consumed in my opinion). For those of you who are Starbuck’s fans, their coffee came in second (267 mg) in caffeine strength.

Just to put that in perspective, a report in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology has says that a healthy adult can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day.  The FDA says that the average American consumes about 300 mg of caffeine a day.


While it May Not be the Best, You CAN Hydrate with Coffee


Coffee – The study “A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index” published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that coffee does not cause dehydration as previously thought.

A study of the effect of coffee published in 1928 had set the thinking that because coffee is a diuretic, it would not help in hydration. The new, more comprehensive study indicates that coffee will contribute to hydration. While coffee is certainly inferior to water for hydration, coffee will help regardless of the many trips to the restroom it may cause.


Another Benefit of Coffee – It Can Blunt Pain


Coffee – I like coffee. That makes me keep an eye out for positive information about drinking it.

Back in May of 2017 researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Boston Children’s Hospital published a report that “shows that chronic sleep loss increases pain sensitivity. It suggests that chronic pain sufferers can get relief by getting more sleep, or, short of that, taking medications to promote wakefulness such as caffeine.

The report goes on to say:

. . . rather than just taking painkillers, patients with chronic pain might benefit from better sleep habits or sleep-promoting medications at night, coupled with daytime alertness-promoting agents to try to break the pain cycle. Some painkillers already include caffeine as an ingredient, although its mechanism of action isn’t yet known. Both caffeine and modafinil boost dopamine circuits in the brain, so that may provide a clue.

If you, or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, a nice cup of coffee may help.


‘Safe’ Level of Caffeine Confirmed


Coffee – When I came across the article “Drinking Four Cups of Coffee Is Probably Safe” this morning I had to read it. I learned a few things from the article:

  1. We should all try to limit our daily consumption to about 400mg of caffeine (I have seen this suggestion before)
  2. The “World’s sTrongest Coffee” is something called Black Insomnia – they claim a minimum of 702 mg of Caffeine per 12 fl. oz. cup
  3. A close runner up to Black Insomnia is Death Wish – they also claim to be the “World’s Strongest Coffee”

That 400mg rule of course depends upon the individual and their state of health. If you want to get a good estimate of how much you are consuming per day you can check here, here and here. There are so many variables that it is difficult to get an exact number, but an average is 100-120 mg per 8oz. home brewed cup. I drink two 16 oz cups each morning, so that means I am right at or slightly over the recommended level. Perhaps a little less as I don’t like the taste of strongly brewed coffee and I adjust my brewing process accordingly.

A good rule of thumb would be if you find yourself suffering from any of these symptoms (from the Mayo Clinic), you should consider reducing your daily caffeine consumption:

  • Migraine headache
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent urination or inability to control urination
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

Will I be buying either of the two “World’s Strongest Coffees” mentioned above – Not likely. Not only do they cost about twice as much as my regular Sprout’s Blend ($19.99 per pound for both Black Insomnia and Death Wish), as I mentioned above I don’t like the taste of strongly brewed coffee.



Bulletproof Coffee

I like coffee, so when I saw an article on Bulletproof Coffee it intrigued me. I haven’t tried adding butter to my coffee yet, but one of these mornings I’ll get adventurous and try it. Not sure about the “Bulletproof Upgraded Coffee Beans” and “Brain Octane Oil” though. Making Bulletproof Coffee with these ingredients is claimed to give improved IQ and cognitive function.

Dave Asprey (the ‘Bulletproof’ founder) also recommends using a French Press or Pour Over Method. He likes taking the time to slowly pour his hot water over the grounds in the Pour Over Method. I’m not sure I want to suffer that delay getting to my first cup of the morning.

I see that Picnik, both a Restaurant and Food Truck here in Austin, serves Bulletproof coffee. Perhaps I’ll try it there first before committing to the process myself.

Have you tried it? What do you think?