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Caffeine and the Coffee Balancing Act

Becoming healthy a personal choice. I’ve often stated that I can’t make anyone healthy. Someone must want a healthy lifestyle more than I want it for them. I attempt to encourage, lead in the right direction, explain physiology, warn against nutritional fallacies and set a good example but ultimately it’s a personal decision as to what one’s diet consists of.

It seems something “new” comes out weekly. A recent study stated that coffee was now the panacea to good health. It’s actually good for us! scientists declared.

Well of course it is good for us – it was already in the Garden of Eden when God told Adam:   “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”  (Genesis 1:29)  The coffee bean comes from a seed-bearing plant, (which depending on the type, grows anywhere from 5-18 feet tall.)

Be careful however. Human nature, being what it is, perceives if something’s good, more has to be even better.This pertains to that “new” eye-opening scientific report on coffee too.

What we choose is not always beneficial to or health. He encouraged us to eat in moderation for He would never encourage us to consume something that would harm us. That’s our Choice!

One of my patients drank 30 cups of coffee per day. That’s certainly not “moderation.” To her it became a very unproductive choice. By consuming that much caffeine it depleted her B vitamins. So what you ask? Well the most important function of B vitamins is to convert fats, proteins and carbohydrates into energy.

Therefore, no B vitamins, no metabolic function. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and her B vitamins were lost through urination.  She was spinning her wheels, going nowhere and didn’t realize why.

When metabolic nutrients are lost, the body hungers for extra food to regulate and energize its system. Everything she consumed went directly to caloric intake without outgo; therefore she was gaining weight. No diet plan would help until she got her coffee addiction under control.

A quick withdrawal from coffee addiction wasn’t an option.  Caffeine is a drug and with any drug there are side effects. A cold-turkey approach would leave her shaking, jittery, cranky and downright unpleasant to be around. A gradual reduction was the only alternative. It took months to re-establish her metabolic functions to normal; then she could begin to lose weight.

Imbibing caffeine above normal consumption depletes calcium from bones. I happen to be small boned and am very susceptible to osteoporosis. Therefore, based on my size and weight, I usually limit my coffee intake to 2 cups per day.

Then why do experts say it’s good for us? Because it is in moderation.

Coffee contains many beneficial nutrients including some 50 cent words such as tocopherols, (antioxidants which protect against cell damage) chlorogenic acid (which protects against tumor growth.)

Coffee contains two chemicals, kahweol and cafestrol, which seems to provide some cancer protection as well as anti-inflammatory properties.

Anything extracted from the soil contain valuable nutrients. Coffee beans contain magnesium,  calcium, phosphorus and antioxidants.

Coffee invigorates your brain’s cognitive function which is why we prefer this drink as our morning wake-up call.

It’s a safe stimulant for the bowels and assists the digestive system. It’s a natural diuretic removing excess toxins from the kidneys and liver.

But jumping on the bandwagon thinking, “Great, coffee’s good for me so now I can drink all the coffee I want” is ludicrous.

There must be balance!

 

 

 

 

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Fact or Culinary Manipulation?

A patient of mine mistakenly believed in order to lose weight he would have to suffer. He explained he only darkened my office door to please his wife. He promised her he’d listen to me for three weeks and then leave. It reminded me of the old western joke, “We’ll give him a fair trial and then we’ll hang ’em!” I explained contrary to belief, he wouldn’t be eating “sticks and twigs.” Over the next year he and his wife became two of my favorite patients.

Why do some believe the “penance principle?” Anything is fine in moderation!  Remember we are each unique. No specific formula will work for everyone so there is no “one-size fits all” method.

Unfortunately many dieters I’ve counseled have followed diets (some outright dangerous) without thinking. Where are valuable nutrients??? I don’t care if it worked for Oprah or some other famous person; celebrities aren’t always correct. I’ve even seen some well-known health professionals subliminally manipulate results to prove their point.

Take for example a segment I watched on the Dr. Oz show while I waited to see the optometrist. It was on the benefits of chicken skin, long considered to be off-limits.

Okay, I thought, anything is fine in moderation; this will be interesting.

The good doctor chose three women from the audience and asked them which serving plate on the counter looked more appetizing  Displayed were three separate creations of two different recipes. One serving was featured on a paler colored plate and in my estimation looked pretty blah. The other was displayed on a vibrantly colored plate.

Each chose the brightly colored plate every time. To me it seemed the results were skewed to produce a positive result of one over the other. The brightly colored plate made the selection naturally more appealing and you guessed it, the brighter one featured the chicken skin portion.

I was sitting next to a woman who leaned over and quietly revealed, “I’m a nurse; we were required to only take one class in nutrition. I never knew this. Isn’t this amazing?” Then she got called for her appointment. So I continued to watch the program by myself, extolling the benefits of chicken skin.

As I watched, I don’t remember the doctor mentioning portion size, only that chicken skin contained 50 more calories than skinless chicken. So chicken skin only has 5o extra calories? Mmm, I wondered, for how many ounces? I don’t recall hearing that. I’m sure if you purchase chicken breasts, you notice size varies widely.The difference: a 3 ounce breaded, fried chicken breast is around 120 calories.

Nor do I remember him stating or suggesting how the chicken was prepared. That definitely makes a difference! Was the serving floured, breaded,  grilled, deep or battered-fried? Was it prepared in butter, oil, grease, PAM. (FYI: the more natural the better – butter has nutrients, kitchen sprays have artificial chemicals. You make the call.)

Fat will keep us fuller longer, that’s true. Fat remains in our system from 5-7 hours. There are also plenty of vitamins and minerals in chicken skin, including niacin, vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, selenium (the feel-good nutrient.)  If I ever consume the skin I prefer it grilled on broasted.

My point is to not condemn Dr. Oz. He has valuable information on his show and a limited time to present it. My intention is to protect against the snare by half-truths. Always question everything and do your research!

“For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.”  (Proverbs 27: 10,11)

A Godly List of Brain Foods!

“Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  (Job 38: 3)

I love lists and to this day create lists as I head out to the grocery or department store.  Internet lists are also enticing to me. I especially get hooked by those intriguing articles that bait: “The Best Cities for Dog Lovers,” “100 Best Movies in History!” or some such title.

th[7]Anyway, if you enjoy fun facts as much as I do, here is my personal list on “Food Facts to Keep Brain Cells.”

Did you know . . . ?

Prunes, raisins, garlic, blueberries and blackberries contain so far, the highest rated ORAC’s (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) which determine the strongest antioxidant values of any fruit and vegetable tested.

Commercial grape juice and tomato juice surprising contain more antioxidants than the same fresh produce in the produce aisle?

Spinach, blueberries and strawberries improve short term memory! Any antioxidant will protect brain cells but these three actually restore brain receptors.  Strawberries with walnuts on a spinach salad with a little olive oil is really brain food!

Blueberries will help restore balance and coordination. (Which is important since we tend to lose those as we age.)

Green tea versus black tea: Green is higher in one antioxidant (50 cent word alert: epigallocatechin gallate)  but black tea is higher in all-around antioxidant potency. Those pre-packaged mixes contain little if any antioxidants, so brew your own.

Pregnant mothers especially, should be consuming eggs for the brain health of their babies. (As we all should.)  Eggs are one of the few foods that contain the amino acid, choline. And many dieters stay away from eggs mistakenly believing they are fattening.

The brain feeds primarily on glucose derived from complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain more ORAC’s overall than vegetables, although kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts rank very high. Although you will derive quick energy from a Snickers bar, you are consuming empty calories! Not recommended.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, milled flaxseed and fish oils keeps your brain cells flexible and fluid.

Eat Fish! Fish oil is amazing! It restores concentration through the brain/blood barrier, speeds up brain waves, calms mental stress and relieves depression. So eat fish, especially the fatty fishth[5] like salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel.  Brain cells are lined with Omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation. Therefore these good fats keep cells fluid, elastic  and fights inflammation. If you absolutely hate fish, then at least take a fish oil supplement such as cod liver oil.

Dark Chocolate boosts antioxidant protective polyphenols properties higher than red wine.

Now Change These Habits:

Quit Smoking! Smoking constricts major blood pathways to the brain which eventually decreases memory and mental capacity. Quit this filthy habit which has no redeeming value and hurts all around you, either through the air they breathe or the pain they’ll suffer when you become incapacitated!

Cut down on sugar! Did you know that high blood sugar stimulates a thickening of the blood vessel walls? No pun intended but think about that! How long do you want to retain your brain cells . . . perhaps just a little longer?

Try reducing colas and caffeinated products which can cause an imbalance in our bodily functions; increasing anxiety, sleep disruptions, higher blood pressure and ages cells. (caffeine in moderation: 2 cups of coffee or tea is fine.)

God gave us a brain for a purpose and we should always aspire to honor God in the way it is used! Honor Him.

 “So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things . . .” (Ecclesiastes 7:25) 

Resolve to Become Stronger in Your Health Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Well not necessarily  – especially when it comes to what you eat. We have a choice and I trust you’ll choose life-giving nutrients.

Have you ever heard someone say that they’re “dying” for a piece of pie, fried chicken, bacon, mac and cheese or a hot fudge sundae? Yes those are delicious and I doubt if consuming a bit of anything will kill them if they are healthy to begin with and eating in moderation. However, if one suffers from diabetes or a heart condition, eventually wrong culinary choices could.

Anything is fine in moderation and there is no formula or one size-fits-all-diet-plan because each person is created chemically unique. With the billions on Earth who have lived, there has never been anyone exactly like you. Amazing isn’t it? (And “diet” is a generic term, meaning only what we consume each day. Therefore everyone’s on some kind of diet daily.)

Whoops wait, regarding that anything in moderation remark! (Written tongue-in-cheek.) I seemingly must add a caveat for those who will write to me and state if one is allergic to it or if it’s a poisonous berry DON’T consume it, so actually everything isn’t fine in moderation . . . sigh. My mother used to say, “Don’t put beans in your ears,” too, referring to whatever is basically common sense and should be easy to figure out as well.

So that being said, have you decided how important is it to YOU to consume healthier food? Do you love food more than playing with your children, hiking in the Alps, dancing at your daughter’s wedding or being  able to sit in an amusement park seat? Sadly, these are true incidents of patients of mine who loved food more than the joys of life itself.

Abundant health isn’t something you can obtain by sending in a form and receiving a certificate in return. Nor is it something you can purchase for any amount of money. Health can only be acquired through individual desire, a denial of self and a disciplined nature. Ask yourself how much do you want to be healthy? Or have you truly made food an idol which you’d rather not give up?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” (Psalm 28:7)

Why do so many think of God as Lucy to our Charlie Brown? Remember how Lucy used to snatch away poor Charlie’s football when he was hopeful she’d finally hold it for him? God only wants to provide GOOD for us! He gave us all these fabulous choices for us to eat, why don’t we choose those? It wasn’t God who messed up our environment – we did just fine by ourselves by greedily plundering the soil of nutrients.

There’s always a trade-off to health.  As mentioned, there’s discipline involved. I’ve seen what wrong choices do, not only to one’s waistline, but to one’s mental capacity as well. We ARE what we eat and I’d prefer to maintain adequate energy and mental function as long as possible. I enjoy being flexible enough to touch my toes as I approach age 70. Please choose health, you won’t be sorry!

This is a time of the harvest when Farmer’s Markets have an abundance of fabulous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs for purchase. Fresh herbs and spices add flavor to foods so much more than plain salt. Experiment with different selections. Praise God for a truly abundant life!

 

Should We Expect Rewards for Bad Behavior?

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”  (1 Corinthians 9:27)

I haven’t posted about our pup, “Mr. No-no” in a while. How quickly times flies. He’s 17 months now and still mischievous. Honestly though, he’s so gosh-darn-fluffy-cute & affectionate, I can’t stay angry at him long.

Unfortunately I must be more stubborn than the pooch or I’d have a very spoiled dog and no one likes that. He gets away with some bad behavior occasionally, but mostly he’s a  joy to be around, sweet but challenging.

In spite of all the toys he has to play with, we’ll still catch him chewing on the edge of our carpet. We know he realizes right from wrong because as soon as I gasp at what he’s doing, he’ll run into his crate and give himself a “time-out” and look absolutely  sorrowful for what he’s done.

Or is perhaps the real reason he’s miserable, is because he got caught?!

How like unruly pooches we are too. Many of my patients were extremely sorry after consuming all those chemically-based, fattening foods which evolved into heart disease or diabetes. But were they really  (???) . . . or was it the fact that their behavior caught up with them and they had to face the consequences of their actions which caused the sorrow?

Everyone realizes that choosing unhealthy foods MOST of the time isn’t good for us – that’s a “duh” statement. But we do it anyway, don’t we? It’s the main reason I enjoy counseling because getting to the root of  why we self-destruct with foods must come first.

Our American diet has become so unhealthy: Breakfast of bacon, 3 egg cheese omelette, hash browns, buttered toast followed by fast-food double cheeseburgers, French fries and shake for lunch. Then for dinner fried chicken and a “diet” coke. (Or the equivalent daily.)

Recently we were visiting at someone’s house and our dog kept jumping up, demanding a treat. I asked the friend not to give it to him unless he sat first. The man laughed, shook his head and stated, “Oh that’s okay, he’s just a puppy.” and promptly gave Mr. “No-no” a treat. So what did our dog learn? That jumping is acceptable and you’ll be rewarded if you keep it up.

That’s so contrary to Scripture. What if God laughed at our ungodly behavior and smirked, “Well, that’s just Fred. He’s a new Christian. Here’s a treat . . .”

No! Actions have consequences. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)  Or as we say in today’s terms, “Garbage in, garbage out.” God stated anything is permissible. but not everything is constructive. (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Sure consuming BBQ ribs, fries, milkshakes, steaks, etc. is permissible. Simply eat less and balance  nutrients out. Personally I avoid most fattening foods because fat actually coats the tongue which prevents us from really tasting our food. Therefore we eat more, trying to derive more flavor. That first bite of ice cream or donut might taste fantastic but after a while, we don’t reap as much enjoyment because our taste buds are covered.

80% of the time choose healthy nutritious foods. What God created in Genesis 1:29 and 9:3, He preferred us to eat. He provided us with excellent and varied choices for our best metabolic function. We should always attempt to honor God with our lifestyle and diet. If we abuse our bodies, remember it was our choice.

Discipline your body! Don’t create an idol out of food, because actions always have consequences.

 

 

 

 

Want to Buy a Little Snake Oil?

Image result for snake oil salespeople       I’ve often criticized False Diet Guru’s (FDG) because they proclaim  “truth” while desperate dieters trustingly follow searching for that elusive magical pill. These FDG’s  are false prophets, leading good intentioned people down a destructive pathway. I pray you are not one of them. Seek Truth!

What is Truth? For one thing Truth is Absolute: Gravity, the Laws of Physics, Thermodynamics and Physiology equal Truth. It amazes me how those who believe in evolution don’t acknowledge the Second Law of Thermodynamics; meaning all life is  deteriorating/breaking down.

I realize some will argue, “You’re only going on faith!” But so what? I have nothing to lose by believing. I’m living a happy, healthy life by eating a godly diet. Everything in moderation. Don’t agree? Okay, fine. I’ll leave that up to God and He can explain later.

But what are you losing if I’m right? Are you still seeking a snake oil formula which can possibly harm you? Truth is, on any diet plan of course you’ll lose weight . . . and will you be able to keep it off? The only good diet is one that you can stay on forever while feeling physically fit and vibrant!

FDG’s place every dieter in a box with a one-size-fits-all bow and profess everyone will lose if they practice their made-up diet plan!  Actually there’s a little truth in every diet and desperate people will cling to that half-truth. Truth is, we are uniquely created by God and lose at different rates, in different body areas.

After DNA was discovered, science had to acknowledge truth.  Sonograms recognized the fact that babies weren’t simply a blob of cells within their mother’s womb as thought in the 1970’s. Fetus’s actually formed a beating heart within a few weeks.

 Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

FDG’s ignore proper physiological science. They have told us to avoid all carbs (never distinguishing between simple and complex carbohydrates) cut out all fat, but consume high protein which harms kidneys. And I never knew “Paleo” man consumed cold cuts and bacon with nitrates and chemicals but not sweet potatoes and legumes. We need balance! (1 Corinthians 10:23)

FDG’s speak in half-truths. So did the serpent when he spoke half-truths to Eve. “You won’t die . . .” Well, of course, not at that moment . . . but eventually. When Eve noticed she didn’t die on the spot, she questioned if God really did know all.

FDG’s focus on sensuality. They will hire celebrity endorsers who get paid to tell others that they lost all this weight and if you also want to look as great as they do, simply buy the recommended product. The commercial fails to say that these celebrities have personal trainers, a private chef, spa treatments and massages weekly. How nice, do you?

(There are some excellent spokespeople out there for Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and both of these companies teach physiology and how to strategize as well.)

These are questions one should ask before attempting any new diet plan: Are you consuming healthy, whole foods or chemically motivated Speed? Will you lose vital nutrients and become anemic? Will your hair fall out and your skin become dry without proper omega 3’s? Will your kidneys or liver fail from artificial or dangerous stimulants?

Of course anyone on a low-calorie diet will lose. But health is more important than weight loss. Eat a balanced diet plan and forget snake oil salespeople!

 

How Does Food Control Us?

Do you wonder also why you suddenly crave something salty, crunchy or a piece of chocolate? As a nutritional counselor, studying the mind and body is a fascinating profession. Many false beliefs will challenge my patients. Some believe eating right is simply a matter of willpower, but it’s not.

Here are several reasons why we eat:

Reason #1:

The answer literally starts in the mind with the hypothalamus. Our bodies need nutritional balance, which we often don’t select. The hypothalamus acts like a little drill instructor indicating what nutrients you require and what food supplies it.

For example, if you haven’t consumed enough copper, the hypothalamus will torment you until you reach for a food containing it. Kale contains copper – so does chocolate.  Which would you reach for? (Yeah, sure you’d choose the Kale chips.)  Therefore it is important to  eat a well-balanced diet from the beginning or it’ll take enormous effort to overcome unhealthy cravings. You’ll become frustrated and quit, believing it’s your lack of willpower. It isn’t, it’s about physiology.

Reason #2:

Emotions and memory can be your best friend or worst enemy. One example: your childhood affects your eating habits today.

If you were poor or had to compete with eight siblings, you might be a fast eater. You might believe that it’s not going to be there tomorrow, so I better eat as much as I can now! Therefore, you’ll consume food without chewing enough to release enzymes or place more on your plate than you can eat.  Did your mother ever profess, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!”

As you age, hopefully you understand that you are neither poor nor have to fight off others for that last cupcake or slice of pizza. But now you can have as much as you want, whenever you want, creating gluttony or closet eating.

Talk yourself into success, recognizing that you are an adult and only answer to God for your eating behaviors. Do you believe God would allow you to starve?  On the contrary, He only wants what is best for His children as He cared for the Israelites when they wandered in the desert:

“At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”  (Exodus 16:12)

God however, provided enough meat and manna only for one day. God never stuffed His children with more food than they required for energy. Still the Israelites complained, didn’t they? Human nature never changes! “I don’t want salad! I want a big juicy hamburger with greasy French fries and a frosted malt and I want it NOW!”

Reason #3:

Insulin. Have you ever had a hazardous encounter? Driven on ice or thought someone was following you? Under stress your heart raced and your body instinctively went into a “flight or fight” mode. That drew blood away from vital organs into your outer extremities, ready for action. What happened next? When the threat was over, you probably reached for comfort food. Why?

When the body is under stress, it readily prepares for the next crisis. Routine blood insulin is lost quickly.  Therefore, under constant daily stress (work, children, finances) you are always hungry, seemingly “for no reason whatsoever” in your mind. I just need more willpower, you tell yourself. Not true. What you need, is find a way to relax . . . a walk, bubble bath, Bible meditation, soft music or other activity to conquer your stressful life.

Health begins in the mind. Recognize the many reasons your body protects you physiologically and strive to honor it for doing so!

“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)