Smart and Skinny with Laurel House… because being just skinny is just stupid

April 27, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

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

This episode of “Living Fit in Real Life: Smart & Skinny with Laurel House” is all about how to be Skinny long-term. There are lots of stupid ways to get skinny. I know, because I have tried too many of them. If you want to be skinny, long term, forget about quick fixes, be smart about it by multi-tasking your meals and working out more efficiently for less time and still burning more calories… because just skinny is just stupid. For more Exercise TV Workout Videos and Products, go to

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

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?

Decaf coffee against diabetes

February 8, 2010 by  
Filed under DIABETES

So what did you drink for breakfast this morning? Coffee? Tea? How many cups? If you’ve had say, 3 or 4 cups of your favourite brew today, you may actually be protecting yourself from Type 2 diabetes. At least that’s what a team of researchers from University of Sydney in Australia is saying.

The researcher performed a so-called meta-analysis of data from 18 separate clinical studies that involved almost half a million participants. And the results of the analysis showed that people who drink lots of tea or coffee have lower risk for type 2 diabetes. A consumption of 3 to 4 cups of the drinks can reduce your risk by a fifth or even more. Each additional cup cuts the risk by 7%.

So what is in a cup of coffee or tea that gives us protection from diabetes? No, it is not the caffeine that provides the benefits because decaf coffee seems to work best. The researchers believe it might be other compounds that are responsible for the protection. Some of the possible compounds involved are the element magnesium and the antioxidants lignans or chlorogenic acids.

This isn’t the first time that decaf coffee gives positive health outcomes. A 2006 study of 28,000 women reported that consumption of 6 cups of decaf coffee a day translates into a 33% diabetes risk cut compared to no coffee consumption. In recent years, tea is also available in decaf form.

The authors concluded:

“The identification of the active components of these beverages would open up new therapeutic pathways for the primary prevention of diabetes mellitus. If such beneficial effects were observed in interventional trials to be real, the implications for the millions of individuals who have diabetes mellitus, or who are at future risk of developing it, would be substantial.”

Now, before you put your kettle to boil, let us slow down a bit. Previous studies on tea and coffee have been linked these beverages to health benefits against cardiovascular disease and cancer, although there are also evidence of harmful effects. More studies are needed to confirm these findings.

According to Dr Victoria King, of Diabetes UK, said:

“Without full information about what other factors may be influencing the type 2 diabetes risk of the studies’ participants – such as their physical activity levels and diet – as well as what the active ingredient in tea or coffee appears to be, we cannot be sure what, if anything, this observed effect is down to… What we can be sure of is that the development of type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to lifestyle, which means that many cases could be prevented by keeping active and eating a healthy balanced diet that is low in fat, salt and sugar with plenty of fruit and vegetables.”

Something’s in your coffee that’s linked to cancer

November 16, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

cup of coffeeThere’s something in your coffee aside from caffeine that may be very important for your health. Introducing trigonelline or “trig” for short identified by scientists at Texas AgriLife Research.

So what is so special about trig? Well, for one thing, it acts like the female hormone estrogen. And because it is estrogenic, it can be a contributing factor to estrogen-dependent breast cancer but can help prevent colon cancer.

Does that mean we should stop (or step up) drinking coffee? Not so fast according to Dr. Clinton Allred, nutrition scientist at AgriLife Research.

“The important thing to get from this is that ‘trig’ has the ability to act like a hormone. So there is a tie to cancer in the sense that we are looking at estrogen-dependent cancer cells. But that doesn’t suggest that it would actually cause the disease. I don’t believe there should be any concern about drinking coffee at this point.”

Trig is natural compound used in traditional Indian medicine to relieve symptoms in postmenopausal women. However, the estrogen-mimicking properties of trig is surprising since its chemical structure is not similar at all to estradiol, one of the three estrogen hormones.

Trig is found in coffee beans but the amount of this estrogenic compound in your cup of coffee will depend on the following:

  • The variety of coffee beans. Trig is found in the two main types of bans consumed in the US.
  • The method of roasting the coffee beans. The more the bean is roasted, the less trig is contained.
  • The method of brewing. Trig has been detected in a normal cup of brewed coffee.

How do estrogenic compounds such as trig affect cancer? Well, “Estrogen-dependent tumors in the presence of estradiol will grow faster,” according to Dr. Allred. His research team observed this in a series of lab experiments. Trig is definitely estrogenic even at low concentrations.

The researchers caution against jumping into conclusions and misconceptions:

“…people often narrow one compound in a food without considering the total mix of compounds and how they interact with each other or in a human body.”

“…menopausal women seek over-the-counter phytoestrogen compounds to relieve symptoms such as hot flashes.”

The researchers believe these behaviors are not advisable. The latter is especially dangerous since women might have estrogen- dependent breast cancer without even knowing it. It takes 30 years from the start of a tumor until diagnosis.

But not everything about trig is bad. Estrogenic compounds have been shown to prevent colon cancer formation. Thus, trig is a potential treatment for colon cancer provided the patient does not have estrogen-dependent cancer.

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

Check out what your drink does to your heart

September 9, 2008 by  

Heart experts from all over Europe and the world met in Munich, Germany last August 30 to September 3 to share the latest research findings on cardiovascular sciences at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2008. Today and in the coming days, I will be presenting some extracts from reports presented at the Congress.

One of the most interesting presentations under the topic “Cardiovascular Disease Prevention – Risk Assessment and Management” is entitled “The gourmand’s heart – a bitter sweet relationship?” where Spanish heart expert S.S. Menendez summarized the latest updates on the health effects of four common food and drinks in the Western diet, namely tea, coffee, wine and chocolate.


Dutch researchers reported that tea showed beneficial effects on cardiovascular health in many studies (but not all) conducted in Europe. The substances responsible for the positive effects are most likely the strong oxidants flavonols and catechins found in tea.


The caffeinholics among us will immediately ask – what about coffee? Greek researchers reported that coffee does not increase the long-term risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Nor does it worsen existing conditions of CVD. However, coffee consumption may increase blood pressure and interact with cigarette smoking, leading to adverse effects. Also, the health effects of coffee may differ depending on the type of coffee and the way it is prepared.


Researchers from the land of chocolate – Switzerland – reported about the positive effects of cocoa. Cocoa benefits cardiovascular health by “lowering blood pressure, improved endothelial function, improved insulin sensitivity and platelet function.” However, these effects are only true for unprocessed cocoa from the cacao beans but not necessarily for the chocolate goodies you see in Swiss confectionaries. Processing of cacao may lead to loss of its antioxidant properties.


Now, the list won’t be complete without touching on wine. Italian researchers reported that moderate alcohol consumption reduces CVD risk, CVD mortality and total mortality in healthy people and in patients with a history of CVD. Wine, especially, should be alcoholic drink of your choice. For maximum cardiovascular protection, 1 to 2 glasses per day for women and 2 to 4 glasses per day for men are recommended. However, overconsumption of alcohol can lead to major health problems as discussed in a previous post.

In conclusion, tea, cocoa, and wine showed beneficial effects on cardiovascular health but the effect of coffee is not clear. As parting shot, the author gives the following prudent recommendation:

Take a coffee or cocoa drink for breakfast, drink green tea during the day, a glass of wine in the evening and … a piece of dark chocolate before going to bed !!!

Photo credits:

woodsy at stock.xchng

wine at stock.xchng

Diabetes and Coffee

March 11, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

It is pretty early, at least here on the East Coast of the U.S., so I would like to share a cup of coffee with you. If you would prefer tea, go right ahead and brew up a cup. I will just sit here and wait while you get it.

La, la, la, oh look, there is a sale. Surf, surf, surf, no . . . I don’t want to visit that site thank you very. . . Oh. You’re back. Hi.

Evil Coffee!

Even after scientists discovered that coffee and tea both have antioxidants and other compounds that are great for the body, people avoid coffee. They say there is too much caffeine in it or quote studies from decades ago concerning the beverage.

Many will avoid the drink their entire lives, citing good health as the reason. For those who avoid it because they do not enjoy the taste, that is a totally different matter. Taste is taste, you either enjoy it or you don’t. But, do not let the small amounts of caffeine deter you from having a cup of joe if you previously loved the stuff!

Power packed Java.

Coffee is a plant based beverage and as with all drinks made from plants, it has benefits from the original source. Four years ago, scientists discovered that people who drank coffee had a lower risk of developing diabetes and that there is a compound in coffee that helps the body metabolize sugar.

If you want to drink coffee to help prevent diabetes or if you would like to enjoy the other benefits of the coffee bean, try decaffeinated.

One More Thing

If you are a tea drinker, you are already aware of the health benefits of tea. But, did you know that drinking tea, real not herbal, can improve your insulin activity by up to fifteen times? According to the research, you should not use milk in the drink, as it can interfere with the compounds in the teas acting properly.

Get Rid of Coffee Forever – Without Pain

November 14, 2007 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

By Karen M. Pina

Myth: Drink coffee for an energized pick me up

Truth: In truth, coffee puts your body in a stressful state. The stress produces an alertness from a chemical reaction, which is often mistaken for “energy.” Don’t get caught up in the coffee junkie jive!

Have you heard?

There is a product on the market called Bawls. It’s a high caffeine soft drink that many college kids are using to stay awake for extended periods of time to study for tests and do homework. And guess what? One 16 oz. bottle is the equivalent of 100 mg or 9 cups of coffee. Just so you’ll know, that is way over the the USDA daily dosage intake amount.

Find out more about the product BAWLS [Google it] so you can keep you and your kids away from it.

Four Ways Caffeine Limits You

1. Interferes with sleep
2. Elevates hormone levels
3. Dehydrates body, which, over time, effects how quickly you’ll age
4. Impairs digestion and regular bowel movements

10 Good Reasons To Kick The Habit

You want to:

1. lower blood pressure
2. reduce stress
3. get rid of heartburn
4. eliminate migraines
5. sleep better at night
6. increase your iron
7. reverse bone loss (osteoporosis)
8. prevent enlarging your prostrate glands
9. avoid pregnancy and childbirth complications
10. be free from anxiety and anxiety attacks

Here’s my strategy to get clean. We suggest you try reducing your coffee intake and increase your herbal coffee intake. There is no caffeine in herbal. It’s rich in natural ingredients like chicory root, dates, almonds, figs, and roasted carob. You can learn more about this strategy of weaning yourself from coffee and other tips for living a healthier life in our e-book,

When you get rid of the caffeine, your body may exhibit these symptoms:

• low energy
• fatigue
• constipation
• fuzzy thinking

This article is about kicking the habit without pain. So, here’s how to do so with grace and ease:

* To combat fuzzy thinking, supplement with Gingko biloba.
* To alleviate low energy, take a B 100 vitamin supplement.
* For constipation, licorice or a flax seed/selenium laxative works miracles.

For a multi-prong approach for all the above, exercise and take St. John’s Wart.

I encourage you to stick it out until you get back to your lively self. Take this wisdom challenge…try kicking for the habit for at least 30 days, if you don’t like your healthier less stressed life, then by all means go back to drinking coffee.

Karen M. Pina is a leadership coach and the CEO of Gifts Ordained by Direction, a coaching practice that addresses everyday leadership issues. Pick up a copy of Karen’s book “Leadership FITness” and get FIT physically, financially, and spiritually.

Mine for the gems in your career, relationships, and leadership development by joining the many readers of Gem News. Subscribe now and instantly receive a free audiobook chapter on career fitness. You can partner with Karen for more support around what you have just read or allow her to mentor you to become a certified coach.

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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.