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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Through Our Brokenness, God Heals

After the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, women in Japan at first experienced only pain. They found their cherished but broken ancestral pottery destroyed, strewn across a desolate landscape. As they began the process of picking up the broken pieces of their lives, they lovingly gathered the broken pieces of pottery as well. Through their brokenness they created intricate, beautiful necklaces, selling them around the world. Through this godly  testimony, they began to recover financially, creating something to be proud of, thus reclaiming their dignity.

If you will allow Him, God will heal the pain of your past too. He touches and changes hearts. When God is with you, it’s never hopeless. There is no challenge you’ve experienced or anywhere you can hide that He isn’t there with you! He is the only one who can fill the void. Drugs, alcohol, food, activities simply mask the pain. Only God can truly heal and renovate your hurting heart, starting from the inside.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Desire to change must come from the inside.

Many of us place smiles on our faces and when asked how we are, profess the superficial, “I’m fine, how are you?” meanwhile holding our pain secretly within; believing, “People only want to be around happy personalities.” or “If they really knew me, no one would like me.”

Sometimes it’s a trust issue. Perhaps in the past a friend betrayed them, family member belittled or a boss ridiculed them in front of others. Therefore they place that shield around their heart. It’s safer that way. “If I don’t get close, no one can ever hurt me.”

But it becomes a vicious circle. Telling yourself you have no need of  relationships comes  across as unfeeling, mean-spirited or apathetic which drives others away. Something else then numbs the pain of loneliness.

Sadly, the covering surrounding our heart becomes so tough, no one except God can break through.

Others have been taught as a child that one doesn’t show their true feelings in public. They put on a false front. Sad? Place a smile on your face! Scared? Put on a swagger and bravado that shows a confident attitude. As they have grown they have mastered their feelings. But God has known us since the womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) He understands feelings; after all He created them!

Become proactive, trust our Lord and we won’t feel out of control!

  1. Memorize Scripture.  God knows you can be strong!  1 John 4:4. 
  2. Talk to a true friend; one who wouldn’t tell you only what your itchy ears want to hear ( 2 Timothy 4:3) or allow you to wallow in self-pity.
  3. Seek out wise women of God who allowed God’s Word to change their broken spirit. Learn from their example. Become precious in God’s sight.

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.”  (Psalm 25:11)

It’s true some days we might feel like Job. Life is messy. Worlds crash through no fault of our own. At that time, the last thing we need is to sit and mope. Our first thoughts should go to the Lord. He understands heartache, betrayal, hunger . . . suffering. He was tested, tempted, overcame and endured it all. Cling to our Almighty Fortress and find Strength.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Water, The Great Equalizer

As I watch the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the heartbreak of those who have lost so much, my heart goes out to them. Through no fault of theirs the Houston and additional Texas areas are enduring trials I can’t imagine.

Expectedly the hurricane with its torrential rain turned north after striking Corpus Christi, hitting the beautiful area of Houston hardest with still-rising flood waters. Leaving their beloved home, memories and animals behind, residents called out for safety.

Floods demonstrate how water is the great equalizer. It didn’t matter if one owned a shack or a multi-million dollar estate; water devastated each one. It didn’t matter if someone was a field laborer or CEO, water took away their livelihood. When we come before God, keep in mind that it won’t matter if we are janitors or celebrities because no one can purchase Heaven with fame or money. Salvation by Faith is a free gift and will be the only fact that determines eternity.

I wonder how many of them thought of the Scripture in Matthew, Chapter 24. Jesus told his followers; as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it will be when Christ returns to rescue his Believers. For a hundred years Noah urged his friends to renew their lives through faith in God. But some, believing they had all the time in the world, mocked his warnings. Failing to heed God’s Saving Grace, they perished. Water became the great equalizer. Many today believe they have plenty of time to accept Christ. Until then, God is mocked and other idols replace our Lord.

Unexpected disaster can occur at any moment in our lives, even death. Some seem apathetic to death as well. “I’m young!” They say, “I have plenty of time, couldn’t happen to me!” But “Now is the time of Salvation!” (1 Corinthians 6:2)

Some will blame God for their circumstance; failing to understand that God originally created all things, “Good.” Remember it was man’s choice to mess everything up. Mankind became so evil that God sent a worldwide flood to reclaim and renew His original Creation. But in His Mercy and Love He didn’t destroy all but rescued eight faithful people and began again.

As residents evacuated, many had to leave their beloved pets behind, praying they would be saved eventually. When Christ comes to rescue his Believers, some loved ones will be left behind. Do everything you can to ensure they are saved!

Baptism by water immersion represents a rebirth and dedication to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If one confesses sin and turns from their old ways, Baptism washes it all away. God will never forsake us and offers us a safe place of refuge. Find refuge with Him.

Accepting Christ makes one new through a newly-created attitude and mindset. Some experts say it will take years to rebuild Houston but accepting Christ and becoming a New Creation only takes a moment. God is giving you a way out of your despair, accept Him today!

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) NASB

How Does One Determine Happiness?

How many times have we overheard someone say, “If I could only win that lottery, my troubles would be over!” “If only we lived in a larger home, we wouldn’t fight all the time.” or “If only I were thinner, I would be happy!”

Would incredible wealth, a great home, a CEO position, perfect body or perhaps gourmet meals with servants to wait on you every night really make us happy?

What happens when you reach that goal but there is still emptiness within your soul? What fills the void then? Food? Food can’t hug anything but your hips.

Adam was created by God Himself, with the perfect physique, placed in a perfect world but he still wanted something more. Walking with God wasn’t enough for him, and he reached for something he shouldn’t. Even living in a perfect environment didn’t bring happiness!

Don’t judge him too harshly. Today we call it “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Many desire what someone else has: an 80-inch TV, a Lamborghini, luxury vacations, an Oscar . . . a 22-inch waist.

Will having a perfect body make you happy?

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

A pure and grateful heart is more pleasing to the Lord than a small waistline or celebrity status.

Perhaps relationships will make us happy? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob thought that, but quickly discovered that spouses, siblings, friends and children can break a heart. Humans have character flaws and will eventually let you down. Let our plumb line be centered not on others, but on Christ who is truly perfect.

David was “a man after God’s own heart.” He found God’s favor and yet it wasn’t enough. He lusted after something he couldn’t have – Bathsheba. He knew better, yet risked God’s wrath for momentary pleasure. Sexual addiction can’t bring joy but one cannot build a foundation of happiness on someone else’s pain. God’s Word who should anchor one’s marriage.

Maybe money will instill happiness? It is futile to believe that if we won the lottery, our worries would be over. Does great wealth provide security?

No, not even King Solomon found happiness in wealth. Solomon possessed greater monetary possessions than anyone and yet declared, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1b). Power and other materialistic provisions require a heavier responsibility.

Searching to fill a void in your life without God leads to various addictions to mask pain. People fill life’s empty voids with things. Food is also a thing. The chemicals found in food indeed increase endorphins, providing comfort, happiness and energy but it is temporary. So are matrial possessions. You will ultimately search for additional fulfillment.

Find real joy from within by trusting in Christ’s sacrifice which brings Salvation, Peace and True Joy. It is a gift from the Lord!

The apostle Paul began his life with great wealth but gratefully relinquished it for God’s greater glory. He discovered what was important in life: contentment within God’s boundaries. Let Christ be the center of your influence and experience real Joy!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)