Beneficial Breathing (Sex Health Guru Tip)

June 22, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

Feeling tired? Try this yoga breathing trick to energize again! When you’ve got your mojo back, keep it going with tips from:

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Beneficial Breathing (Sex Health Guru Tip)

April 1, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

Feeling tired? Try this yoga breathing trick to energize again! When you’ve got your mojo back, keep it going with tips from:

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

When it comes to drunkenness, caffeine does not help

February 17, 2011 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

A strong cup of black coffee is not an antidote to alcohol intoxication. Neither are 2 cups. Or even three. Of a caffeine-rich energy drink for that matter.

Caffeine is known as a stimulant that can keep you awake and boost performance. The popular use of caffeinated energy drinks among young people during exams week attest to this.

However, the notion that caffeine is an effective antidote to the sedating effect of alcohol is completely wrong.

The appearance of caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CAB) in the market is causing concerns among health experts. Several manufacturers recalled their CAB products following FDA warnings last year but the practice of mixing caffeine with alcohol has not abated. It is as easy as simply mixing their own cocktail.

According to researcher Dr. Jonathan Howland of the Department of Community Health Sciences and Department of Emergency Medicine, Boston University:

“Although several manufacturers of caffeinated beer have withdrawn their products from the market, there is no sign that young people have decreased the practice of combining alcohol and energy drinks. Critically, CABs may increase alcohol-related risks in a number of different domains, but have been subject to very little systematic research.”

Risky behavior has been attributed to this dangerous mixture including intoxicated driving (either as driver or passenger), committing and being a victim of sexual assault and having an alcohol related injury or accident.

In order to clarify once and for all the belief that caffeine blunts the effect of alcohol, thus allowing one to drink and drive, the researchers tested 129 people ages 21 to 30 drink alcohol with or without caffeine. After 30 minutes, they were tested on a driving simulator. The results showed that all drinkers were not fit enough to drive – regardless whether they had taken caffeine or not. The take home message, according to Dr. Howland, is:

“If you’re intoxicated – whether you have caffeine or not – you shouldn’t be driving. Your performance really falls apart.”

Let us hope we can get the message across!

The dark side of energy drinks, Part I: alcohol abuse

November 23, 2010 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

What is college life without energy drinks? Ask any college student and he or she will tell you.

Energy drinks are pretty “in” among young people nowadays. Increased energy and enhanced performance are just among the desirable of these drinks. However, there is a dark side to energy drinks that we might not know about.

Recent research shows links between energy drink use and undesirable and dangerous behavior. In this series, we explore the dark side of energy drinks.

Energy drinks are handy in staying up late to cram for the following morning’s exam. What is becoming increasingly common is mixing energy drinks and alcoholic drinks, with the misconception that caffeine counteracts the effect of alcohol and there avoid drunkenness. The result is a strong brew of caffeine and alcohol in the bloodstream. A recent study indicates that those who habitually consume energy drinks are at a higher risk of developing alcohol dependence and going on binge drinking.

The study looked at more than 1000 college students and data on consumption of energy drinks and alcohol of the past 12 months were collected. The findings indicate that those who consumed energy drinks at a high frequency (compared to both non- and low-frequency energy drink users) were more likely to

  • get drunk at an earlier age
  • consume more alcoholic drinks per drinking session
  • develop alcohol dependence

Kathleen Miller, research scientist from the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo, warns against the common belief that

  • mixing alcohol and caffeine reduces drunkenness
  • mixing alcohol and caffeine  prevents hangovers
  • alcohol plus caffeine fools a breathalyzer test

“Caffeine does not antagonize or cancel out the impairment associated with drunkenness—it merely disguises the more obvious markers of that impairment.”

Energy drinks, popularly known in the brand names Red Bull, Monster, Rocks Star contain high amounts of caffeine – 3 to 10 times contained in a can of coke. In addition, they also contain other rather questionable ingredients. Last year, German authorities found traces of cocaine in Red Bull Cola, a product declared as 100% natural.

A big problem is the fact that energy drinks are largely unregulated, even in the US. According to study lead author Dr. Amelia M. Arria, Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health:

The fact that there is no regulation on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks or no requirements related to the labeling of contents or possible health risks is concerning.”

Coffee and your heart rhyhtm

March 23, 2010 by  

Over the years, a lot of research studies have been conducted to assess the effect of caffeine on heart health. This is a highly relevant topic considering that

  • Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, hot or cold.
  • Energy drink consumption which contains high amounts of caffeine has become a very popular soft drink among the young and even used as performance enhancer.

Many of those studies report inconclusive or contradictory results about the effect of caffeine on heart health.

A latest research study at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, CA explored the common belief that coffee causes palpitations, e.g. irregularity in the heartbeat when the heart literally “skips a beat.”

According to Dr Arthur Klatsky, who is leading the study:

“A lot of people think they have palpitations from coffee, and doctors commonly tell people not to drink it, but there are very few actual data, and the data that are available suggest no relationship. We went into this study thinking there would be no association, but to our surprise, there was actually an inverse relationship. It could be protective, although one observational study doesn’t prove anything yet.”

The researchers looked at 130,054 members of the Kaisers Permanente health plan and asked them to complete questionnaires on coffee drinking habits and other lifestyle factors.

The study results indicate that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk for hospitalizations for arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). In addition, the effect seems to be additive, e.g. the more coffee you drink, the lesser is the risk. As an example, those who drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day have an 18% less likelihood to have arrhythmia-induced hospitalization. The effect of caffeine consumption did not vary regardless of gender, ethnicity and smoking habits.

Is it really the caffeine?

Well, those who drank only decaf coffee did not have this protective effect so the evidence points to caffeine as the protective substance. However, the authors are quick to point out that coffee” is a complex substance and that it includes other ingredients that might be at work, including antioxidants, in reducing the risk of arrhythmias” which might have been drastically reduced during the decaffeinating process.

So what does caffeine do?

Dr. Klatsky and colleagues say the mechanisms behind the cardioprotective properties of caffeine are not fully understood but it may have something to do with caffeine competing with the compound adenosine in the brain. They speculate that the same competition might occur in the heart where adenosine is involved in the conduction and recovery of heart muscle cells after depolarization. However, more studies are needed to confirm these findings, including studies that will look into incidence of less sever arrhythmias that do not result in hospitalization.

However, the authors think it might be tricky to find subjects willing to cooperate with such studies.

It might be a little tricky to get people to give up their coffee, and for those who aren’t coffee drinkers, it might be tough to get them to start drinking four cups per day.”

Either you are a coffee drinker or you are not. I’m partial to lattes and mochas myself. Which one are you?

Alcohol impairment persists till the morning after

January 13, 2010 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

Partying, feasting, drinking. That was what most of us did on New Year’s Eve. Then we crashed into bed in the wee hours of the morning and slept through most of New Year’s Day. So how did you feel the morning after? Some of us may have suffered from mild to severe hang over. Some of us may just feel fine and dandy. But the question is, are really fit enough to get on with our daily routine?

Well, researchers at Brown University have this question in mind when they conducted their study. The study participants consisted of 95 healthy people aged 21 to 33 who were nevertheless heavy drinkers. The participants got legally drunk for a night (legally drunk = 0.080 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration all states in America) and then had 8 hours of sleep. The following morning, the sober participants were tested on how well they cna make quick decisions and pay attention.

The study results showed that even after hours of rest, with blood alcohol level at zero, the participants still exhibited some degree of postdrinking impairment. This impairment can affect the ability to drive a vehicle, operate complex machinery, or make critical decisions.

According to researcher Damaris Rohsenow, professor of Community Health at Brown University:

“Don’t consider driving the morning after the night before. If a person is going to get drunk, they should be doing it on a night when they are not going to be needing to drive the next morning.”

There are misconceptions about the duration of the effects of alcohol.  Many people think that alcohol can easily be “slept off”. Others believe a strong cup of coffee would easily do the trick. However, alcohol’s effects persist long after the last drink has been downed. Alcohol in the stomach and intestine will continue to enter the blood stream. Once in the blood, the alcohol circulates throughout the body and into the brain.  Alcohol easily penetrates the so-called blood-brain barrier and once in the brain, it stays there for a while and cause impairment.

What about the effect of caffeine?

Does coffee really sober you up?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Caffeine may help with drowsiness, but it doesn’t counteract the effect of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and even more time to return to normal. There are no quick cures—only time will help.”

Can caffeine reverse memory decline?

July 22, 2009 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

coffee-machineMornings aren’t the same without a cup of coffee in hand. Whether it may be a broadsheet you have in front of you or your computer monitor, hold that coffee cup nice and tight because a new research shows that coffee has more than just antioxidants under its belt of health benefits.

The research involved genetically modified aged mice that exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease being proportionally given an equivalent of five cups of coffee a day worth of caffeine. The results were astounding. The cognitive issues of the said mice were reversed, according to a report coming from the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Researcher Center (ADRC) researchers lead by Dr. Gary Arendash.

Recently published studies show that caffeine is a very good inhibitor of the protein linked to the disease, based on test results from both blood and the brains of the mice that showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These studies are considered as a continuation of previous research conducted by the Florida ADRC team showing that introduction of caffeine during early adulthood inhibits the onset of cognitive problems in old age in mice genetically modified to develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

55 mice were bred to exhibit dementia as they age, mimicking the symptoms of the said disease. Behavioral tests were then done to confirm the test mice aged18 to 19 months were showing signs of cognitive issues at an equivalent age of 70 human years. Half of the animals were given caffeine through their drinking water (test group) while the control group was given plain water. The test group mice took an equivalent of five cups of regular coffee every day. This is the same amount of caffeine you get from a large frap drink from your local coffee shop, or 20 soda cans or 14 cups of tea.

After two months of research, not only have did the caffeinated mice scored better on their tests measuring cognitive skills, researchers also have verified that the memory skills of the said mice were of the same level as to normal mice of younger age exhibiting no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The control mice showed very little or no difference at all with their memory skills.

Results also show a very significant decline (around 50% reduction) in the percentage of beta-amyloid, the protein responsible for the plaques on the brain, which when in abundance, is a classical sign of Alzheimer’s. Caffeine not only inhibits beta-amyloid but also suppresses inflammatory changes in the brain that lead to the high production of the said protein.

Promising as it may seem, questions always arise to clarify certain possible issues that may have been overlooked or questions that may lead to further knowledge or new discovery. Since it has been established that caffeine boost the memory of mice with Alzheimer’s, is it then safe to say that those that are exposed to caffeine from a very young age will do better in terms of memory? The researchers wanted to know if there would be any difference. To set things straight, another set of mice were given caffeine this time with the group being normal and is from young adulthood through old age. After a long research period, they collated the results for the control group and the caffeinated mice with both groups performing as well as the other.

“This suggests that caffeine will not increase memory performance above normal levels. Rather, it appears to benefit those destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease,” according to Dr. Arendash.

Though further, more rigorous research is needed, the use of caffeine has the great potential as a viable treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine is easily available and cheap. Give or take a couple of years from now, these new findings may be the start a new line of therapy and prophylaxis for Alzheimer’s. Caveat: do not forget that caffeine is not completely harmless. Excessive caffeine intake does come with health risks!

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Can coffee protect you from stroke?

February 23, 2009 by  

Now you see them, now you don’t. I am referring the health benefits/adverse effects of coffee. Previous studies indicated that excessive  caffeine consumption may have some bad effects on our health. But this new study seems to bring good news to coffee lovers.

This joint study by American and Spanish researchers recently published in the journal Circulation however, says this is not the case. The study looked at the data of 83,076 women as part of the Nurses’ Health Study. The study participants were followed up for more than 24 years, their caffeine consumption recorded, as well as any cardiovascular events that occurred during the follow-up period. The results show that there is no evidence of increased stroke risk in women drinking 4 or more cups of coffee per day. On the contrary, the results actually suggest coffee consumption results in a modest but still observable decrease in risk for all types of stroke.

Compared with women who drank less than one cup of coffee a month, the stroke risk was found to be

Other caffeinated drinks such as tea and soft drinks did not show any association, positive or negative to stroke risk. However, decaf coffee also showed a trend towards lowering the risk. This suggests that whatever gives protection against stroke, it must not be caffeine but something else. The authors think coffee contains antioxidants that may reduce inflammatory processes and improve endothelial function. Previous data analyses indicate that coffee may have some beneficial affects that can be protective against coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Since coffee drinkers also tended to be cigarette smokers, the researchers also looked whether the protective effect of coffee can counteract the adverse effects of smoking. Well, smokers have to be disappointed. Coffee doesn’t help at all in lowering smokers’ stroke risk. But neither does it increase it. Thus, “the potential benefit of coffee consumption cannot counterbalance the detrimental effects smoking has on health“, according to the authors.

Thus, the researchers emphasize that this reduced stroke risk due to coffee is only true for healthy, non-smoking women.

And before you load up on coffee upon heating this good news, take note what the authors conclude:

“Anyone with health problems that can be worsened by coffee (insomnia, anxiety, hypertension or heart problems) should talk to their doctor about their specific risk.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Energy drinks and their caffeine content

October 30, 2008 by  

It is a well-known fact that large amounts of caffeine can affect your health and your heart. Therefore, beware! Many energy drinks – purported to dietary supplements are anything but nutritional. They contain lots of sweeteners – and caffeine. Lots of it.

A recent study by Johns Hopkins scientists reported that many energy drinks could actually contain 5 to 10 times more caffeine than a can of coke or a cup of coffee. However, we consumers do not know it because the actual amount is not reflected on the label.

Softdrinks, according to US FDA requirements can contain a maximum of 71 mg caffeine in a 12-ounce can. Popular sodas such as Coke and Pepsi contain about 35 mg of caffeine. A cup of brewed coffee contains a bit more – about 80 to 150 mg. Energy drinks, however, could contain up to 500 mg caffeine per can!

So you might want to ask, what wrong with caffeine?

Well caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It affects our moods, alter mind functioning, and makes the heart work faster. It is not well-known but there are actually many caffeine-related disorders. One is the so-called caffeine intoxication, a clinical syndrome recognized by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Symptoms of caffeine intoxication include agitation, anxiety, insomnia, and heart palpitations.

Recently, there has been lots of concern about the potential abuse of caffeine through consumption of booster energy drinks among young people. These drinks are especially popular among the young as performance enhancers as they cram for exams and rush to finish term papers. The so-called “caffeine rush” has been described as jolts of energy that makes one feel alert and energetic. However, there also comes the “crash episodes” afterwards.

 So how much caffeine is actually too much?

According to Mayo Clinic, caffeine depends on a lot of factors such as:

  • Body mass
  • History of caffeine use
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Smoking habits
  • Food and alcohol intake
  • Use of certain drugs
  • Certain medical disorders

However, generally speaking 500 to 600 mg of caffeine intake per day is considered too much and can bring about the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tremors
  • Nausea, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems
  • Sleeplessness

High caffeine intake is indicated against people with heart disease and mental disorders, pregnant women and young children.

Caffeine, however, does have some medical value and are often used as additives to certain medications, including over-the-counter drugs. OTC cough syrup, for example, can make a person drowsy and not fit to drive or operate a machine. However, caffeine additives in the drug can counteract the sleepiness. However, as is in all medications, the exact caffeine content of these drugs are declared in the drug labels.

Experts are calling for a re-evaluation of the current requirements for energy drink labelling. After all, drugs and alcoholic drinks are required to reveal their contents in detail. With the health effects of caffeine and the potential for abuse, caffeine-energy drinks should also be subjected to such scrutiny and transparency requirements.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.