Tag Archives: Health

Is Caffeine Bad?

coffee

(See my other Coffee &  Health related posts) – I saw the article “Is caffeine really bad for you? A doctor weighs in” earlier this month.

I like coffee so articles like this always catch my eye. The author relates the facts about caffeine she has discovered from a medical professional.

The gist of the article:

  • Who shouldn’t drink caffeine? – kids and the pregnant
  • How much caffeine should I consume? – no more than 400 mg per day
  • Will caffeine give me heart disease? – no, but those with high blood pressure should consult their doctor
  • Is it bad if I’m addicted to caffeine? – that depends
  • Are there any health benefits to caffeine? – Yes, short-term cognitive and perhaps (from antioxidants in coffee) a lower risk of cancer

If any of those questions/answers interest you, please read the article “Is caffeine really bad for you? A doctor weighs in” for more information.

Are you concerned about the Coronavirus COVID-19?

Updated 3/16/20, 3/15/20, 3/12/20

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Everyone seems to be concerned about the Coronavirus COVID-19 these days. I came across the dashboard shown above earlier today and wanted to share it. This is a ‘real-time’ report of the Coronavirus from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). You can find that dashboard here. While I like this dashboard, it is not the only one available.

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This dashboard is available from the World Health Organization (WHO) and can be found here. It too is supposed to be a ‘real-time’ report on the spread of the Coronavirus. Clearly, the numbers don’t match, but they are close.

Screen Shot 2020-03-15 at 11.30.18 AMIf you are mostly interested in the US statistics then The New York Times has a map (above) of where cases have been reported. You can see it in their post “Tracking Every Coronavirus Case in the U.S.: Full Map“. Further, The Times reports [6]:

As of Sunday [3/15/20] morning, at least 2,815 people in 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have tested positive for coronavirus in the United States, according to a New York Times database, and at least 59 patients with the virus have died.

Screen Shot 2020-03-15 at 11.44.40 AMA different map (above) of the spread is available from the Washington Post on their website in Mapping the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and worldwide. The article includes a table showing cases and deaths by state. The article also contains similar maps of the world and China showing the spread of the coronavirus. The Post reports that COVID-19 has been confirmed in nearly every state [7].

I think it is important to keep in mind the numbers from the JHU dashboard. Out of the (as of 3/11) 124,913 confirmed cases worldwide, 66,702 (53%) have recovered and 4589 (less than 4%) have perished. At 12:00 on 3/15 those same statistics are: 156,400 confirmed cases worldwide, 73,986 (47%) have recovered and 5833 (less than 4%) have perished.

To put the Coronavirus in perspective to our normal Flu season:

According to the CDC, flu-related deaths between the years of 1976 and 2007 ranged from 3,000 to 49,000. From 2010 to 2016, the flu-related death rate was between 12,000 and 56,000, with the highest season being 2012 to 2013 and the lowest being 2011 to 2012. [1]

Looking at deaths from Flu Pandemics in the past [1]:

    • 1889 Russian flu pandemic: About 1 million flu deaths
    • 1918 Spanish flu pandemic: Over 40 to 50 million flu deaths, including about 675,000 in the United States. The flu infected over half of the world’s population by the end of this pandemic.
    • 1957 Asian flu pandemic: Over 1 million flu deaths, including about 69,800 in the United States
    • 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic: About 1 to 3 million flu deaths
    • 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic: Between 8,870 and 18,300 deaths in the United States and up to 203,000 deaths worldwide specifically from H1N1

Based on this data, the current fatality total in the US is somewhere between 0.2% and 0.3% of those who died in the 2009 H1Ni flu outbreak. The Flu this season (which does not include Coronavirus) is expected to be much deadlier.

So far, the CDC has estimated (based on weekly influenza surveillance data) that at least 12,000 people [in the US] have died from influenza between Oct. 1, 2019, through Feb. 1, 2020, and the number of deaths may be as high as 30,000. [2]

How does this year look compared to past Flu seasons?

So far, it looks like the 2019-2020 death toll won’t be as high as it was in the 2017-2018 season, when 61,000 deaths were linked to the virus. However, it could equal or surpass the 2018-2019 season’s 34,200 flu-related deaths. [2]

I found two other graphs [3] that shed light on the threat from Covid-19 as compared to other diseases. Certainly, we should be concerned and take appropriate steps to minimize our exposure and control the spread.

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All of that said, it is pointed out [4] that:

There are many compelling reasons to conclude that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is not nearly as deadly as is currently feared. But COVID-19 panic has set in nonetheless.

The main threat of contagion is from those who are showing symptoms. That is the general opinion of the medical community. There is some evidence that those not yet showing symptoms may also be spreading the virus. In particular, those who are 20 or younger often are not showing significant symptoms. They may be contributing to the spread of the virus as carriers. [10]

With regards to the threat to individuals:

  • COVID-19 is a relatively benign disease for most young people, and a potentially devastating one for the old and chronically ill [4]
  • [we should] commit most if not all of our resources toward protecting those truly at risk of developing critical illness and even death: everyone over 70 [4]
  • [Prevention] still largely comes down to hygiene and isolation. But in particular, we need to focus on the right people and the right places. Nursing homes, not schools. Hospitals, not planes. [4]
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are the “underlying conditions” most associated with severe cases of COVID-19 [5]
  • the underlying condition most connected with COVID-19’s worst outcomes are afflictions of the heart [5]
  • the data collected so far suggest that COVID-19 is rare and less severe in children [5]

One of the best ways to keep from catching COVID-19 is to simply wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a short article “When and How to Wash Your Hands” giving the five steps for properly washing our hands.

  1. Wet your hands (to the wrist) with clean, running water (the temperature doesn’t matter). Turn off the tap, and apply a good amount of soap.
  2. Lather up the soap by rubbing your hands together. Don’t forget to spread that lather to the backs of your hands up to your wrists, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Doctors recommend humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning-to-end twice to get the timing right.
  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean paper towel (best bet), hand dryer (OK), or let them air dry (in a pinch).

The other recommendation by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is “social distancing”. That means the reduction in close contact with others. What does that mean? [8]

  • The CDC recommendations are to keep six to 10 feet away from other people
  • people [should] minimize social contact, and that means limiting all social engagements
  • shop at times of fewest other shoppers or rely on delivery
  • work from home if that is an option
  • if you are under a 14-day quarantine people should not visit you
  • limit, or better avoid, your visitation of the elderly in assisted living or nursing homes

The CDC is advising to cancel any events planned for the next 8 weeks (3/15 – 5/15) expecting 50 or more people. The CDC listed conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, and weddings as examples. Gatherings of any size should be reconsidered. The CDC does include schools, universities, or businesses in this warning. The full CDC guidance is: [9]

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.

Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populationshand hygiene, and social distancing.  When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.  This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.

References:

  1. Annual Flu Deaths Among Adults and Children
  2. This Is How Many People Die From the Flu Each Year, According to the CDC
  3. How Bad Is the Coronavirus? Let’s Run the Numbers
  4. COVID-19 Isn’t As Deadly As We Think
  5. These underlying conditions make coronavirus more severe, and they’re surprisingly common
  6. Tracking Every Coronavirus Case in the U.S.: Full Map
  7. Mapping the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and worldwide
  8. The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’
  9. CDC recommends canceling events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks throughout US
  10. Infected people without symptoms might be driving the spread of coronavirus more than we realized

Coffee – Have a cup for a better microbiome

coffee

(See my other Coffee related posts) – I came across the article “Could more coffee bring a healthier microbiome?” recently and wanted to share it.

The essence of the article is that research indicates that caffeine consumption is linked to a healthy gut microbiome. This can help you with your overall health. Evidence is suggesting that the makeup of your gut microbiome can affect your health.

A recent study shows that consuming coffee can improve microbiome health. This result was presented at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, in San Antonio, Texas on October 28, 2019. In the study, those participants who drank two or more cups of coffee per day had better gut microbiome profiles.

This looks like one more reason to enjoy a few cups of coffee each morning.

Coffee Seems to Combat the Onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

coffee

(See my other Coffee related posts) – I read “Dark Coffee Can Reduce The Risk Of Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s Diseases, A New Study Showed” a few months ago now, but seeing it again today, I wanted to share it. This article is based on “Phenylindanes in Brewed Coffee Inhibit Amyloid-Beta and Tau Aggregation” published in the October 12, 2018 issue of the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

In the study conducted at Krembil Brain Institute in Toronto, researchers tested three different Starbucks coffee blends (Instant light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast) for phenylindanes. They looked for phenylindanes as these compounds which are produced in the coffee roasting process are known to inhibit proteins linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s from clumping.

The study links the consumption of coffee, particularly dark roast coffee, with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The darker the roast, the more phenylindanes that are produced. This avenue of research is in its early stage and much is still unknown about the exact interaction of the compounds.

Still, this is yet another in a series of studies that indicate that chemicals contained in coffee have a beneficial impact on health.

Are​ 8 Glasses of Water Per Day Needed?

(See my other Health and Food related posts) – I came across the article “How Much Water Do I Really Need to Drink?” today and thought it was worth sharing.

We have been told for a while now that we should all drink 8 glasses of water every day. First to consider is what dehydration is:

  1. exercise- and heat-induced mild dehydration  – loss of 1-3% of body weight – impact brain function and reduce endurance
  2. further loss – memory and attention are impaired
  3. If you feel thirsty, your body is telling you to drink
  4. headaches, muscle cramping, a dry or sticky mouth, or infrequent urination – approaching dangerous levels of dehydration

These are warning signs those of us in Central Texas have to be aware of. The high temperatures we endure in the summer months (June through September) can easily cause dehydration if outside.

Water consumption guide:

  1. In 1945 84 ounces of water per day recommended, but there appears to be no scientific basis in that number
  2. The Institute of Medicine provides more guidance and recommends women to drink a total of 91-oz (10 glasses) of fluids a day and men a total of 125-oz (15 glasses).
  3. research findings have estimated an increase in energy expenditure by approximately 96 calories a day with the consumption of 68-oz of room-temperature water
  4. Those daily recommendations include fluid from ALL sources including coffee and tea (without sugar or milk)
  5. staying hydrated improves health
  6. staying hydrated can help with weight loss

The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors: age, sex, body mass, environment conditions, level of activity, health status, and pregnancy status. And how do you tell when you are well-hydrated? The best way, according to the Mayo Clinic, is to check your urine. If it’s pale yellow, you’re hydrated. If it’s darker yellow, you’re not. And if it’s crystal clear, you’re probably overhydrated.

If this has been of interest to you I suggest you read the article for yourself.

 

Feeling Anxious? A Cup of Coffee with Satori Might Help

Coffee – Coffee has many benefits of its own as I have posted about previously. While I don’t use creamers in my coffee, the “Vanilla Steamer” from Satori Food Project might be something to think about.

Dr. Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori, while he was pursuing post-doctorate work in pharmaceutical sciences, wanted to find an easy way for people to manage stress and anxiety without prescription drugs. He worked with the startup accelerator Gener8tor and received an award from the National Science Foundation to further his efforts to create foods for mental health. The result is the Satori Food Project based out of the Concordia University of Wisconsin Pharmacy School.

They currently have two products – the powdered coffee creamer mentioned above and a hot chocolate mix. Both are enriched with magnesium, GABA, and L-theanine. They say on their website about their creamer:

You know that feeling you get when you’re painting, writing, or coding. You know. When you’re 100% focused on what you’re making. When you’re in that special place where joy meets skill meets performance…

Well, scientists have figured out the brain chemistry behind that special place, and they call it “FLOW”. And we have turned that discovery into a delicious vanilla steamer that unlocks your brain’s potential to get into Flow – and stay there.

. . . helps you calm your nerves and stay focused on accomplishing your goals. Imagine what you can do at the next level of CONSCIOUSNESS and Clear Thinking…

As for their hot chocolate, their website claims:

RELAX. Imagine finally returning home from a long and busy day. You did a lot of things. And you helped a lot of people. 

Now it’s time to lay on the couch, snuggle under a warm blanket, and watch your favorite shows with your favorite drink.

Satori Hot Chocolate Mix is a gourmet beverage that helps your brain CALMLY UNWIND and detach from a hectic day. Now it’s night-time. Your time.

A Peaceful Mind can be yours with every cup of SATORI Hot Chocolate. It gives your brain the vitamins it needs to relax after a busy day. No Artificial Flavors. NO PILLS. No Stress. JUST CHOCOLATE.

A $25 can of the hot chocolate mix will make eighteen 56 calorie cups of hot chocolate. The $25 can of Vanilla Steamer provides twentyone 63 calorie servings.

Perhaps one or both (you can buy a package with a can of each for $45) is something to help you through your day.

Study Shows Dark Roast Coffee Helps to Protect Your DNA

coffee
Coffee – I came across an article a short time ago that gave further reasons to drink coffee. In the study “Consumption of a dark roast coffee blend reduces DNA damage in humans: results from a 4-week randomised controlled study” published in the European Journal of Nutrition helps protect your DNA.

In this test, participants were split into one group that drank water and another that drank coffee. At the end of a month, those who had been drinking the coffee had fewer breaks in their DNA strands. The official conclusion of the test:

Our results indicate that regular consumption of a dark roast coffee blend has a beneficial protective effect on human DNA integrity in both, men and women.

Just one more test that indicates that drinking coffee in reasonable amounts is good for you.

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!

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!