Tag Archives: Healthy Living

Tools That You’ll Need To Go Gluten-Free

When you go gluten-free, cleaning out your fridge and pantry is only the first step. In order to truly rid yourself of the scourge of gluten, you’ll need to replace cookware and kitchen utensils as well. All porous surfaces can be harbingers of tiny amounts of gluten, and that may be enough to make you sick. If you want to truly rid yourself of gluten, here are some new tools you may need.

cutting board

Cutting Boards
It is probably close to impossible that your cutting board is free of scratches, and as is the case with your cookware, scratched surfaces equal gluten hideouts. Make sure to replace all cutting boards and use them only in gluten-free recipes.

Toaster
Since the toaster is probably the appliance in your kitchen most likely to come into contact with bread, it is not surprising that it should top your list as one of the first to go. If you are avoiding gluten, it is crucial to buy yourself a new one of these, and also make sure that you never allow gluten bread to enter your new replacement.

Silicone Spatulas
What do you get when you flip a gluten pancake? A gluten covered spatula. You might want to get colored spatulas to separate yours from those of your gluten eating house-mates, but make sure to label them anyway. It only takes one bad pancake flip to contaminate your entire spatula, so better be safe than sorry.

Woman with wooden spoon

Wooden Spoons
Wood is another porous gluten trapping material, therefore all wooden cookware will need gluten-free replacements. If you live with roommates who are not cooking gluten-free, be sure to label your items to avoid contamination.

Rolling Pin
If you’ve got your Grandma’s rolling pin, you might want to keep it in the closet for sentimental reasons, but you’ll want to get another one to roll out the dough for your gluten-free breads and pizzas.

Baking Sheets and Muffin Tins
The scratches in your non-stick baking sheets and muffin tins will be sure to test positive for traces of gluten. While stainless steel sheets and tins may not pose as serious a threat, make sure to give them a thorough scrubbing, especially in the corners.

non-stick pan

Non-Stick Pans
It’s the scratches in the non-stick pans which trap the gluten, and, if you possess non-stick pans, you probably are aware of the likelihood of their being scratched. Even the smallest scratches are enough to warrant disposal. Stainless steel or aluminum pans without non-stick coating do not present a risk, as long as they are washed well to root out any food residue.

Colander
Unfortunately, a used colander is beyond salvaging from the ravages of gluten, so hopefully your not too attached to yours. The gluten from pasta sticks inside the holes, no matter how diligently you clean. If you’ve got an old colander, replace it.

Let us know how you’re managing post-gluten life. We want to hear your advice on parting with your prized kitchen utensils and appliances.

Benefits of Adding Lemon and Lemon Peel To Your Diet

lemon peel

Nowadays, when life hands you lemons, there are a myriad of beneficial things you can do with them, and making lemonade does not even come near the top of the list. Here are just some of the ways adding lemons and lemon peels to your diet can help improve your health.

Benefits of Using the Whole Lemon

More Vitamins
Lemon peels contain 5 to 10 times more vitamin than the lemon juice alone. If you’re discarding the peel, you’re discarding loads of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, and magnesium.

Fights Cancer
If you’re thinking of doing a lemon juice cleanse, it may be more effective if you include the peel. Lemon peels help to eradicate the toxic elements in your body, including the carcinogenic ones. The peel contains salvestrol Q40 and limonene, components which are fierce defenders against the cancerous cells in your body. In addition, the flavonoids in the zest of the lemon can also be effective in stopping cancer cells from multiplying.

Additionally, a study reveals that drinking hot tea with lemon peel can help to prevent the development of colon, breast, and skin cancers.

Woman cutting up lemon

Boosts Bone Health
Because lemon peels contain loads of calcium and vitamin C, including them in your diet can help prevent bone conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and inflammatory polyarthritis.

Lowers Cholesterol
High levels of “bad cholesterol” are often linked to cardiovascular disease. The polyphenol flavonoids in lemon peels will help the lower the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels in your body. In addition, Vitamins C and P will clear blood vessels, decreasing or preventing the risk of developing related conditions such as heart disease, diabetic heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Including Lemon Peel In Your Diet
So now that you know how great lemon peel is for you, you’re probably wondering how you can make it a little more palatable. Here are a few ideas for including lemon peel in your recipes.

Lemon Pickle
Widely found in Indian households, including a little lemon pickle in your diet is a great way to get the health benefits of the lemon zest.

lemon cake

Cakes and Pies
Scrape a little lemon peel into cakes and pies to enhance flavor before baking and add some to give the icing on top a tangy flavor.

Candied Lemon Peels
Making candied lemon peels is a fun and easy way to reap the lemon peel benefits. Boil the peel in some water to reduce bitterness. Extract peel and addict to a pot of sugar and hot water. Simmer until peels soften. Sprinkle sugar on top and let them dry for a day or two.

So, when life hands you lemons. eat them whole, or at least, eat the whole thing. Let us know how you’re including lemons and their peels in your diet.

Avoid These Barriers To Healthy Living

Woman running

Does anyone out there really believe that supermodels eat fast food burgers? Although we are probably living in one of the most health-conscious time periods to date, we are still receiving mixed messages about what it means to be healthy. While it might be tempting to believe that the typical beer drinker has bright eyes and glowing skin, or that ice cream is a common nightly indulgence for the physically fit, quite often these examples would be more aptly place in the “too good to be true” files.

False advertising can encourage bad habits, and bad habits can become barriers to healthy living. If you are struggling to live healthily, here are some tips for avoiding some of the most common barriers.

Take Stock
One of the first steps to healthy living is to assess your current state of health. Make an appointment with the doctor and dentist to gauge your health. Have your BMI checked and make sure your waistline is not putting your health at risk.

Think about your physical activity. The CDC recommends at least two and a half hours of aerobic activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises per week. How do you stack up?

Consider your social network and keep an eating journal. “The idea, says Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD, and nutritionist, “is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of.”

Eating healthy

Eating Healthy
Healthy eating requires the ability to take power over what you eat. The key, according to Williams, is saying, “I choose,” rather than, “I should.” So it’s, “I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,” instead of, “I should be eating more fruits and vegetables.” Williams says. “it shows that you’re in control and making the right choice.

Another thing Williams recommends: leave guilt out of the equation. The doctor points out, “Usually, whenever someone feels guilty about something, it feeds right back to the behavior that they’re trying to get rid of. So if someone is an emotional eater and they say, ‘I know I shouldn’t be doing this,’ it implies more guilt and judgment on themselves; they feel worse, and they end up eating more.

Exercise More
Pick something you like to do. if you’re dreading cardio in the gym, go for a hike or take a dance class. Set weekly goals for physical activities and keep track of how much you do. Williams says, “Make the first goal so easy that you say, ‘I know I can do that.’ She recommends weekly checkpoints because they give more flexibility. If you miss one day, you can redeem yourself on the next. Williams often encourages you to reward yourself after being good all week with a visual reminder that you can look at often to celebrate your accomplishments.

Sleep better

Sleep Better
Common barriers to a good night’s sleep are computers and TVs before bedtime. Not only does the light from electronic devices trick your body into thinking its time to be up and about, computer activity and t.v viewing can be very stimulating, and not conducive to a peaceful rest.

Heavy exercise close to bedtime is another contributor to poor-quality sleep. Sleep medicine specialist Lisa Shives, MD says vigorous activity can heat the core temperature of the body and make sleep difficult. As a guideline, she says, “If you’re working up a sweat, you’re working too hard before bed.”

Improve Relationships
Although diet and exercise are big contributors for healthy living, social connections also play a major role. C. Nathan De Wall. assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky suggests looking for a person like you. “What really is important in terms of promoting relationship webbing is that you share a similar level of comfort in getting close to people. Feel people out in terms of, ‘Does this person seem like me in terms of wanting to be close to other people?”

DeWall also emphasizes the importance of having in-person relationships in these days of virtual online connections. He does not discourage social media relationships, but advises, “I think long term, having all your relationships online or virtual would probably be something that wouldn’t be as beneficial as having a mix.

Woman meditating

Cut Down on Stress
Stress is another big barrier to healthy living. Positive coping skills, like yoga and visualization can be very helpful in keeping stress levels to a minimum. Williams recommends handling stressful situations by burning off anger through exercise or allowing anger to dissipate in a quiet place.

Have you broken through barriers that were keeping you from living a healthy life? Tell us all about how you did it! We love to hear good stories!

Food sources

As the Temps Rise, So Does Your Need for Vitamin D

Poor Vitamin D! It was a perfectly respectable vitamin until the Urban Dictionary perverted it into a sexual euphemism. Now one can barely mention the vitamin without the occasional titter from those familiar with what it means to “put the D in someone.” In fact, even Marks and Spencer has come under fire for their claims of “Putting the D In Bread,” sparking a social media frenzy by those who can’t keep their minds out of the proverbial gutter.

The more mature among us will know vitamin D as a valuable nutrient for managing calcium in the blood, and assisting with intercellular communication. You may also know that this vitamin is primarily derived from the sun. However, if the sun is not an option, due to inclement weather, or simply lack of exposure, there are some foods that may be more consistent options.

Tuna Fish
Canned tuna is probably the cheapest and most accessible source of seafood, and a 3 oz. contains 236 IU of vitamin D: more than half the daily requirement. Sandwich or salad, tuna’s got the D.

Eggnog

Eggnog
There is no wrong time for eggnog. One glass contains 25% of the RDA of vitamin D, thanks to its large egg content. However, you may want to keep the consumption down to a minimum to avoid a sugar overload.

Fortified Dairy
Although most dairy does not contain significant amounts of vitamin D, the federal government began to fortify milk in the 1930’s due to a widespread deficiency in the nutrient. A single cup of fortified milk will get you 34% of the recommended daily value, while a 6-ounce container of fortified yogurt will give you one fifth of the RDA.

Mackerel
If you’re looking to pick up some Vitamin D, mackerel is quite the catch. Not only does one four ounce portion contain an entire day’s worth of vitamin-D requirement, it also has lower levels of mercury and is at less of a risk of overfishing than other fish with a similar nutritional profile. Mackerel is also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and protein. Catch it if you can!

Portobello mushroom

Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushroom crops are exposed to additional lighting that boosts the amount of vitamin D by a whopping 3,000 percent. The increase of vitamin D intake due to lighting has also been shown to be a cost-effective way of lowering depression.

Smoked Whitefish
Kosher deli connoisseurs will know this fish as a great accompaniment to bagels, but they may not know that half a cup of this brunch staple contains enough vitamin D to get you through your day, It is also naturally low in calories and fat, and rich in vitamin D, protein, and B vitamins.

Soy Milk
You may be drinking soy milk to address issues of lactose intolerance, but if its fortified, you are also getting a daily dose of D. Most brands contain about one-quarter of the daily requirement.

Orange juice

Fortified Orange Juice
You may know orange juice to be a valuable source of vitamin C, but with fortification it can also be a significant source of vitamin D, with one cup exceeding a quarter of the daily recommended intake.

How are you getting your D? Let us know! We love to hear it, especially the dirty stuff!

Work Out To Relieve Anxiety

Anxiety and excess weight have a lot in common. They are both dreaded first world problems, they are both unhealthy, and they are both difficult to avoid. While it sometimes appears that there is no escape from either, there is one more thing that the two have in common: an enemy. Although it is true that stress and obesity are formidable contenders, there is one thing that has been proven capable of taking down both of them in one fell swoop. What is this thing of which we speak? The Workout. Find out why working out may be your best ally in the constant battle to remain stress and fat-free.

Woman running

How does exercise help relieve anxiety?
Exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals, reduces immune system chemicals, and increases body temperature, all of which may have calming effects and have been shown to improve mood and boost confidence. Meeting exercise goals can make you feel better about yourself and looking better increases confidence in your appearance.

Exercise can also distract you from your worries and give you the chance to socialize with others. You may find friends at a gym, in an exercise class, or simply strolling the neighborhood. Physical activity is also a healthy coping activity, and a healthier alternative to dwelling on problems.

Physical Activity Vs. Structured Exercise
While the phrases physical activity and exercise are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two. Physical activity is defined as any activity that expends energy and contracts muscles, and can be applied to household work and leisurely activities. Exercise refers to a more structured repetitive plan done with the sole aim of improving fitness.

Although we generally think of lifting weights and running as ways to get in shape, less intense physical activities, such as walking or gardening are equally capable of improving your mood and helping to maintain physical health.

Family cycling

How to Get Started

Pinpoint What You Enjoy Doing
Pick out something you can envision yourself sticking with and try to make a plan that you’ll be likely to follow through with.

Set A Reasonable Goal
Find a plan that meets your abilities and schedule. While 30 minutes a day three to five days a week is the recommended amount, as little as 10 to 15 minutes of physical activity can be enough to make a difference. Also, keep in mind, more vigorous activities can improve your mood and meet your workout requirements in less time.

Avoid Thinking of It As A Chore
If you think of exercise as something in your life that you need to live up to, you’re likely to associate it with failure. Try instead to think of it as a therapy session to help you feel better.

Find Out What’s Stopping You
Try and think of what may be preventing you from working out. Do you feel self-conscious? If so, you may want to exercise at home. Maybe you would prefer to work with a partner. Find out what it is that’s causing you to hesitate and try to find an alternative.

Know Your Limits
Remember to pat yourself on the back every once in a while and forgive yourself for small slip-ups. Just because you miss a day, doesn’t mean you can’t get right back on the horse.

Does working out relieve your anxiety? Let us know you’re best workouts for helping to get through your day!

Steps For Smoking Cessation

We’ve come a long way, baby, from “You’ve Come Along Way, Baby.” The Virginia Slims ad, introduced in 1968, advertised the cigarette for women as a sign of the times, featuring liberated models in designer fashions happily dragging on their “own” cigarettes. Women were not the only ones who were targeted. The Marlboro Man was the essence of virility and masculinity, the modern day cowboy, blue- jeaned and mustachioed braving the western frontier, armed with a horse and omnipresent cigarette. Nowadays, we are more likely to see cigarettes ads of a much less glamorous variety.

For quite some time, it has been no secret that cigarettes are harmful to your health, and for the most part, lawmakers and health advocates have done a pretty good job in making that known. According to data released by the CDC, the number of adult smokers in in the US has fallen to the lowest rate in years. However, if you’re among the number that is still struggling, here are some tips that may be helpful.

Woman quitting smoking

Get a Reason to Quit
You already know its bad for you, you need to find a personal motivation for quitting. Maybe its to protect your family from second- hand smoke or to model a good example for your children. Maybe you want to stay healthy or look better. Whatever the reason, make it matter.

Don’t Think You Can Go Cold Turkey
Nicotine is an addiction and, if you give it up, you need to be prepared for withdrawal. if you are serious, ask your doctor about support methods. There are apps, medications, and counseling all designed for those trying to quit the cigarette habit.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Withdrawal is usually not fun and can sap your energy and cause irritability. Nicotine replacement, like gum, patches, and lozenges can help ease you through hard times without taking that dreaded puff.

Prescription Pills
When you are trying to quit smoking, there is a plethora of medications designed to aid you. Some can curb carvings, making smoking less appealing, while others can help lessen symptoms of withdrawal.

Avoid Alcohol
Drinking and smoking often of hand and hand, so try to cut down on alcohol when you first try to quit. Also, recognize and avoid other triggers. If you accompany your nightly cup of coffee with a cigarette, try switching to tea for a while. If you smoke after meals, try texting a friend instead.

Reward Yourself
One undisputed benefit of giving up cigarettes is the amount of money you will save. Take advantage of it by spending it on something for yourself.

Woman eating veggies

Eat Fruits and Veggies
Dieting while giving up cigarettes may be hard to handle. Try to eat vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that are good for you. You can focus on cutting calories after you cut out cigarettes.

Lean on Friends
Make sure that you tell everyone close to you that you are trying to quit. Friends and loved ones can supply encouragement and support. You may also want to seek “behavioral therapy” to help you find and stick to strategies to help you quit.

Get Rid of Reminders
When you’re finished with smoking, it is a good idea to get rid of the paraphernalia that accompanies it. Toss out lighters and ashtrays and wash clothes, draperies, and carpets that smell like smoke.

Don’t Give Up
If at first you don’t succeed… A lot of the time quitting takes more than one try. If you relapse, think about what brought it on. Were there emotions that were hard to deal with? Use your failure as an opportunity to do better next time. Set a new quit date within the month and try and stick to it.

If you’re dealing with quitting, or have dealt with it, tell us your strategy. We want to know your secrets. They may help someone else!

The Benefits of Eliminating Soda From Your Diet

Woman drinking soda
If you’re trying to decrease your soda intake, these new touch screen soda machines are not helping things. If you have never seen one of these, the home screen displays icons from almost every brand of drink you can think of: Fanta, Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Hi C, Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, the list goes on and may include some brands most of us have never heard of. If that’s not too overwhelming, when you press on one of these icons, you get a menu of available flavors of each drink. For example, if its Coke Zero you prefer, you can get it in vanilla, cherry vanilla, raspberry, orange, lemon and lime. You can get Hi C in grape or raspberry lime! You can get Powerade ION4 Fruit Punch! You can even get Vault Red Blitz! There are 127 flavors on this thing!

Of course this technological mind-blower also offers healthier alternatives like Peach Dasani Sensations, but the temptation to try every flavor is extremely hard to resist! While the mayor of New York tries to make 64oz. soda illegal, there’s this.

But the truth is, as attractive as this all may be, abstinence is really the best route. There are loads of benefits to cutting the fizzy drink out of your diet.

The Truth About Diet Soda
You may think that diet soda is a gift from heaven. After all, it allows us to indulge in the taste and carbonation of regular soda without the weight gain. However, according to Isabel Smith, MS RD CDN of Isabel Smith Nutrition, “Our bodies are developed to expect a large amount of calories when we take in something exceedingly sweet, and artificial sweeteners are from 400 to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar. ” Smith says that this causes stomach muscles to relax and hormones to be released in preparation to the in food. “It can actually send some people searching for more food, out of lack of satisfaction.”

Quitting Soda Leads to Weight Loss
Although it has no calories, diet soda causes insulin release in your gut which can prevent weight loss. Miriam Jacobson, RD, CDN, says, “Insulin is your body’s primary fat storage hormone, so it will have the body hold on to any extra fat.” Diet coke may, in fact, be more harmful than the regular version because of all the added chemicals.

Quitting Soda Improves The Immune System
The acidity in soda spells bad results for your tooth enamel and digestive system and it is no help if you are suffering from acid reflux. Diet sodas are the worst culprits because artificial sweeteners affect gut bacteria which can interfere with weight management and blood sugar levels and cause disease.

Quitting Soda Improves Bone Health
The coloring in soda contains an artificial phosphorous. As a naturally occurring chemical, phosphorous is found in foods like grains and beans, but the kind found in dark soda can affect bone health. Smith explains, “Basically, you’re taking something that exists in nature but making this hyper-absorbable form of it, Your body doesn’t have the choice whether to absorb it or excrete it, so it can cause calcium to leach out of bones.”

woman with energy
Quitting Soda Gives You More Energy
While caffeine can provide an initial lift drinking too much can overstimulate your nervous system. Smith says, “There is way more energy for our bodies in real food than in processed foods. When people cut back on processed items, they often look for more fresh foods and make better choices.

If you have been seeing more of these soda bearing technologies, let us know what you think of them. Are they the next big thing or the next big controversy? We’d love to have you join the conversation.

Battling Adult Acne

  Women examining acne on her face.

Most of us talk about how we would like to turn back the clock.  Sure, we would all like to look a bit  younger, but there are definitely some things about youth that we are happy to see the back of that denim jacket with the heavy metal patches on it that you wore until it rotted, the self-administered buzz cut, the experiments with green hair dye, and acne.  Yes, if there is anything to be glad about when it comes to aging, it would have to be the end of acne.  But, what if you find yourself having graduated to  adulthood when……THEY’RE BACK! Just when you thought you zapped, squeezed and hid your last pimple, white or black head, they’re back and badder than ever.

Why?

Hormones
Teens are not the only ones whose hormones are aflutter.  According to dermatologist Julia Tzu, MD of Wall Street Dermatology says,”Fluctuation in hormones, such as before one’s menstrual cycle, is the main cause.” Hormonal acne is identifiable by a painful outbreak around the chin neck and back and may occur before your menstrual cycle. High-stress levels can also contribute to hormonal imbalance.  When the stress hormone, cortisol, is released by the body, it is often accompanied by testosterone, a male hormone which leads to the production of more oil, ultimately resulting in more outbreaks.

Using the Wrong Products
If you are prone to breakouts, you should be using products that will not clog your pores. DR. Neal Schultz, of Beauty RX Skincare, suggest looking  for  the words “oil-free”, “non-comedogenic” or “water -based” on the label.

Overcleansing
 Dr.  Rebecca Kazin, MD of the John Hopkins Department of Dermatology says cleansing more than twice a day is too much and can just dry out skin “which can cause it to produce more oil to overcompensate.  Grainy and gritty cleansers  that rub your skin can similarly promote acne.    Try switching to a gentle detoxifying gel cleanser and two is the magic number.

Food
Many of us have heard that there is a direct relationship between chocolate, greasy food and acne, but. before you put down that Hershey’s bar, there is no statistic proof of any of this.  However, you would be well advised to avoid iodine, found in shellfish and greens like kelp and spinach.  Sugary food can also be a culprit.  By raising your insulin level, sugary foods can boost oil- triggering hormones, like testosterone.

Treatment Ingredients

Salicylic Acid
Also known as beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid exfoliates gently to unclog pores.  It is go-to in anti-acne products and can be found in most OTC cleansers and spot treatments and is mild enough to use on your whole face.

Benzoyl Peroxide
This stuff kills acne bacteria whole exfoliating the pores but stick to spot treatment for this one.  It has been known to make skin irritated and should not be used all over the face.

Glycolic Acid
If you are facing the acne meets wrinkles stages, this may be just the thing. It removes dead skin cells on the surface and stimulates the collagen and  hyaluronic acid, improving skin’s texture on the whole.

Retinol
Another godsend for the acne meets wrinkles crowd.  It is one of the most effective treatments for acne and also has collagen building properties, but , be aware, can be too harsh for those with sensitive skin so try testing it on  a small spot on your skin before you commit to it.

Exfoliate
Probably the best thing you can do to fight acne is exfoliated and the best way to so it is with glycol acid.  A glycol cleanser is helpful, but exfoliating pads and serums that really soak your skin are more effective.

Keep Spot Treatment on Hand
As soon as you feel that zit waiting to burst our, zap it with some benzoyl peroxide to start killing bacteria immediately.  Try to look for a gentle formula with soothing ingredients  for adult skin.

In closing, while these treatments are all effective, keep in mind that hormones are some pretty powerful players.  If topical treatment isn’t enough, talk to your doctor.  He may have the best advice on the best course of action.

Sip Coffee For Your Health

Woman sipping coffee

No doubt about it. Coffee is the new black.  These days your look is not complete until you are equipped with at least a small white cup in your hand with the telltale lid.  And for a bolder look, you may choose something with whipped cream on top in that cute little bubble cap.  Not only is coffee look, its a lingo.  Quelle  horreur  if you can’t throw the words macchiato and latte into a casual conversation. ( Ex.  While drinking vanilla non-fat latte, the cutest guy came in the shop…)  You get the picture.  What is it about coffee?

Drinking coffee has always been a social activity.  The beat poets gathered at coffee houses in the  1960’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to talk about peace with Bob Dylan. Philosophers gathered at coffee houses in Greece with Socrates to debate.  Why is coffee such a social drink?  It  takes a long time to drink.  Hot or cold, no one really chugs coffee.  Also, coffee makes people talkative.  So there you have it, empty time and a loose tongue.  The perfect recipe for conversation.

For years, we have loved our coffee.  But for a while, coffee got a bad rap.  The acidity was bad for your stomach; the caffeine was bad for your nerves, coffee could lead to stroke or heart disease. It seemed to make sense; nothing we enjoy this much could possibly be good for you.  But then….. things changed.  All of a sudden, knowledgable medical professionals started revealing evidence that this caffeinated liquid was actually good for you!  Could it be?  Let’s have a look at all some of the reasons you can feel good about getting your java fix.

Coffee can Make You Smarter and Boost Your Energy
Caffeine blocks inhibitory neurotransmitters in your brain and increases dopamine and fires up your neurons.  Studies she that this improves memory, mood, energy levels and reaction time.  Drink coffee before you take your SATs!!

Coffee can Burn Fat
Caffeine boosts the metabolic rate by 3-11%.  Studies show that it can increase fat burning by 10% in obese people and 29% in lean people.

Coffee is the Biggest Source of Antioxidants in the Western Diet
Sort of sad, but true, studies show that most people get more antioxidants from coffee that fruit and veggies combined!

Coffee Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Some Kinds of Cancer
One study showed that coffee drinkers have up to a 40% lower risk of liver cancer.  Another study of 489,706 people found the those who drank 4-5 cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Liver and colorectal cancer are, respectively, the third and fourth leading cause of cancer death in the world.

and last but not least….

Coffee Makes You Happy
A 2011 Harvard study showed women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of depression and another study polled 208,424 individuals and found those who drank 4 or more cups o coffee were less likely to commit suicide.

So, be cool, smart, thin and healthy! Keep drinking that java.

Resveratrol and the “Gut Microbiome”

Blueberries

You’ve surely heard about the potential health benefits of antioxidants by now, and you may have heard about one in particular, the antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes (and therefore in red wine and some grape juices as well), but new research may help illuminate and confirm some of the hypothesized benefits that had yet to be proven by science until recently. Let’s take a look.

The Study
While recent studies looked at a possible benefits of resveratrol, one in particular piggybacked on previous studies showing a link between resveratrol consumption and lowered obesity rates and sought to examine this phenomenon more closely and ensure that the link was causal (in other words, looking for further proof that resveratrol does, in fact, help control obesity, and also trying to figure out how it might do that). The study was done on laboratory mice, and has rather promising results. Researchers allowed mice to become overweight by overfeeding, and then administered resveratrol to them in varying amounts, with a control group, and the state of the gut and liver were monitored in various ways. The results of the study showed that applications of resveratrol to the mice changed the composition of the bacteria in their gut in such a way that lowered their weight over time due to changes in digestion and metabolism. Keep in mind this is a somewhat loose interpretation and we’re paraphrasing, but that’s the study in a nutshell; we figure you’ll appreciate us sparing you fine details and technical jargon.

What this Means
Before we go any further, we want to stress that studies like these are very preliminary, and we shouldn’t try to draw concrete conclusions from them just yet; the scientific process takes a bit longer than that to really figure things out. That said, these results are quite promising, and lends a bit of credence to the idea that routine consumption of resveratrol might be beneficial to overall health. This study doesn’t look at other possible benefits of resveratrol, but it’s nonetheless a solid bit of support for the heath benefits of resveratrol.

So sit back and toast to your health with a glass of red wine! Don’t overdo it, of course; alcohol can kill off bacteria in your gut, so a little bit is fine (say, one glass of red wine every evening) and could help balance your gut flora to help keep obesity in check, but too much might have a negative effect. Also consider that you can also get resveratrol in many grape juices, and especially from eating whole red table grapes.