Healthy Drinking? Yes, and here are the healthiest drinks

When listing healthy drinks, first let’s exclude the liquefied salad slurry, where you toss in peanut butter, berries, whatever’s going bad in the veg drawer, and a sprinkle of flax seeds or whatever. Yes, that sludge is actually healthy for you, but peanut butter, flax, and kale are not drinks, they’re foods.

Now that we’re on firm footing, what are the healthiest drinks available. Water is good for hydration, but doesn’t carry nutrition and isn’t even the most hydrating of drinks!

Basically, the healthiest drinks are the ones that you make a tea out of. For example, to make tea you take specific leaves, pour in hot water, which extracts the healthy aspects of the leaves into the water. Then, you drink that.

In other words, you make a tea of the leaves.

The same thing happens with coffee and cocoa. Pour in hot water, allow it to steep and think about itself for a while,  and the healthy parts of each release into the water, and you drink that on chilly days with fuzzy socks on.

It turns out that cocoa and tea (especially green/black teas) have more antioxidants than any other drink, and are crazy healthy for you for that reason. In fact, short-term intake of cocoa and green tea flavanols … affect selected markers of one or more measures of oxidative stress, inflammation or hemostasis in obese adults at risk for insulin resistance. (reference)

And … in 19 randomized clinical trials comprising 1,131 participants, our study suggests that cocoa flavanol intake has favorable effects on select cardiometabolic biomarkers among adults (reference). 

For Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

A 2007 review of studies showed a positive effect of coffee consumption on reducing the risk for AD by ~30% compared to non-coffee drinkers [].

A 2010 review of epidemiological studies involving middle aged adults, associated a daily intake of 3–5 cups of coffee with a risk reduction of 64% [].

Two meta-analyses reported that as coffee consumption increased, disease incidence decreased [].

For Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

As reported here, coffee drinkers were at a 30% lower risk of PD as compared to non-drinkers [], which is consistent with the latest meta-analysis from 2014 and the conclusion that the strongest positive effect (28% lower risk) was observed for the daily intake of 3 cups of coffee [].

Additionally, that analysis demonstrates a linearly dependent correlation between caffeine dose and risk for disease. Daily increase of caffeine consumption by 200 mg resulted in a 17% lower risk for disease.

Just keep in mind that many of these studies are correlational only — meaning that people who drink these drinks also have a reduced risk of getting those diseases. But something else may also be going on, so maybe it’s not the coffee, the tea, or the cocoa?

All that said, even persnickety researchers agree that these drinks are probably great for you, and certainly not harmful. So, while we’re waiting on them to make up their minds, we might as well wrap our hands around a steaming cup of yumminess and enjoy!

 

Cancer Awareness Month: Blood

Approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States (US) is diagnosed with a blood cancer (source: https://bit.ly/2dcsntk). In other words, by the time you finish reading this post, another person will be diagnosed. And if it takes you 9 minutes to read through the “Close Look” below, someone else will have died from Leukemia, Lymphoma, or Myeloma.

These kinds of numbers throw the importance of the issue into sharp relief.

Cancer Awareness Month: Prostate

You’ve probably heard it said, “If you live long enough, you’ll get prostate cancer.” That’s because its onset is at least partially due to increased age, with the average age of diagnosis at 66 years old! (source: https://bit.ly/2krh8jL).

And now that we have a test for it (the PSA), it is detected far more often — even when it is small and still benign (source: https://bit.ly/2RbjAcm). In fact, most men diagnosed with this disease do not die from it. This doesn’t mean it’s not a serious disease because it is, only that context is needed when talking about this particular cancer.

Cancer Awareness Month: Lung

This is stunning:

Worldwide, lung cancer is the most common malignancy and the most common cause of cancer deaths in the past few decades. In 2012, a total of 1.8 million new cases were estimated, accounting for 12.9% of all new cancer diagnoses. (source: https://go.nature.com/2xPytsH) And the single most important risk factor for all these deaths, as you might guess, is tobacco use.

Cancer Awareness Month: Colon

Colorectal cancer is the 2nd most commonly occurring cancer in women, and the 3rd most commonly occurring in men (source: https://bit.ly/2xLYFEP). One key suspect in this particular cancer formation is processed meats, particularly those cured with nitrates and nitrites (current thoughts on cancer boosters and blockers here: https://bit.ly/2IKBNcc.

Tired of Being Tired? Go Mental!

Debilitating fatigue can have physical or mental sources, and both of them leave you feeling like you’re completely out of energy. And this sense of exhaustion will be true even if you haven’t expended any energy through the day!

One of the largest sources of mental fatigue comes from chronic stress and anxiety that are not well managed. This kind of fatigue can also accompany headache, irritability, dizziness or blurred vision, loss of appetite, short term memory problems, lack of focus, difficulty making decisions, and/or lack of motivation.

What To Do?

The most important first step is to identify the source of the stress and work to manage it. This may involve changing that source, creating routines that help keep stressors from “getting inside” where they can create the tension that can lead to fatigue.

Young Businesswoman Stretching At Workplace In Office

Another useful technique shown to help reduce mental fatigue is yoga. This exercise is a perfect combination of physical stretching and mental relaxation. This study showed that even a “a 30 min programme of yogic stretch and breathing exercises … had a markedly invigorating effect on perceptions of both mental and physical energy and increased high positive mood.”

If you are a person who needs structure in your life, in order to follow through on your commitments, join a yoga class. They are now quite commonplace and span a continuum from meditative to being very physically demanding.

That said, if you are a person who can set your own routines in your own home, the routines and postures are easily found online, with plenty of instructions. Whichever one you choose, in the end you’ll be helping calm your mind, exercise your body, and energize your life in the process!

Tired of Being Tired? Here’s the antidote!

Here’s some irony for you. When you’re low on energy, you just don’t feel like being active. Maybe if you rest for a while, your energy will come back.

But it turns out that this is exactly the wrong answer. It seems like a body might need rest so it can recharge and give more energy, but just being active creates more energy within your muscles and your cardiovascular system. 

In fact, a 2017 study showed that participants with work-related fatigue improved their energy levels after six weeks of exercise intervention. This went along with an improved effort at work, sleep quality, and cognitive functioning.

Why would this be?

  1. Your cardiovascular system becomes more efficient when you are active, so it transports oxygen more efficiently through the day. More oxygen, more energy.
  2. Research shows that sleep quality is improved when you are active. How active? Just 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity over the course of an entire week. Mood is elevated as well.
  3. Activity benefits your mental energy levels as well. This study showed that 24 weeks of moderate aerobic exercise improved cognitive function, concentration, and even short term memory.  
  4. Any physical activity that elevates your heart rate can raise your energy level and give you more stamina. Aerobic exercise is the most obvious, but lower-intensity exercises like yoga have also shown benefits as well.
  5. An excellent exercise for a long term energy boost comes from resistance training. Any kind of resistance work, done consistently, can build background muscle tone. This is important because that muscle burns more calories than anything else except your brain. The effect is that it can raise your basal metabolic rate, leaving you with more energy through the day.