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Good Coffee Bad Coffee: A Dispassionate Guide on Coffee Consumption

Is coffee good or bad for human health? It’s a debate that has been going since forever and a highly polarized opinion has been set for this psychoactive drink. People love or they hate coffee. Very few people are out there who are not obsessed with coffee in either way. In the past, people advocate and censure coffee consumption on personal experience and mere made up facts.  

However, in recent few decades, researchers have been trying to find out the good and bad aspects of coffee under the light of scientific studies. In this article, we try to dissect the use of coffee in the same context. It is important to know the both aspects of coffee drinking because as of the latest survey conducted in the beginning of the year, around 44 % American consumers stated that they drink two to three cups of coffee per day.

Good Coffee

Let’s find out some of the benefits that can be availed by consuming coffee.

A catalyst for weight loss

According to the scientifically obtained nutritional chart of coffee, coffee is rich with micronutrients of potassium and magnesium. Ample amount of these minerals in the body regulates blood sugar level by optimizing the function of insulin which also helps in lowering the cravings for starchy and sugary foods. With regulation of insulin and blood glucose levels, there are also reduced chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Reducing the risk of developing cancerous tumors

According to a research study that analyzed the effects of coffee consumption on more than 40,000 people, drinking coffee on a regular basis can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer and endometrial cancer by 20% and 25% respectively.

Another research study indicates that increased caffeine intake in the form of coffee can reduce the danger of developing squamous cell skin cancer.

Beneficial for elderly

A study conducted by Harvard University tells us that that regular consumption of coffee is linked to the reduced chances of developing Parkinson’s diseases by improving the function of brain parts affected by the disease.

Detoxification of the body

It is a well known fact that coffee contains lots of antioxidants that helps physiological systems of the body with the process of detoxification by getting rid of free radicals and by limiting oxidative stress.

Bad coffee

Of course, there is a bad side to the consumption of coffee as well.

It can result in insomnia and restiveness

Excessive amount of coffee can produce the psychological effects that might lead to agitation and sleep deprivation. Some people are inherently sensitive to the psychoactive substance present in coffee, called caffeine.

Pregnancy complications

According to a research paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, coffee can induce problems for developing fetus in a pregnant mother. Coffee that reaches the fetus through placenta can have adverse effects on the undeveloped metabolism of the unborn child.

Addictive tendencies

According to a research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who regularly consume around 350 milligrams of caffeine exhibit the signs and symptoms associated with drugs notorious for substance abuse. For instance, they possess a never-ending desire for coffee and experience the signs of withdrawals when they try to limit its consumption.

Digestive acidity and ulcers

There are various acids present in coffee beans. With excessive regular consumption, they can increase the acidity in the digestive system and can also damage the internal lining of the stomach and small intestine that leads to the ulcer.

People who are suffering from high cholesterol are advised to consume filtered coffee. Filtered coffee is the one with beans that are free of most of the LDL in it.

What path should be taken?

From the above discussion, one can figure out that the goodness or badness of coffee actually boil down to the degree of its consumption. Consuming coffee in moderation is the way forward. If you are drinking more than 1-4 cups in a day then there is strong probability that you are drinking good coffee. However, if you finish a cup of coffee every hour then it is more likely that you are consuming the bad one.  

Be mindful of you daily consumption, especially if you are pregnant. But looking at the big picture, it is the opinion of this author that the good coffee outweighs the negative potential of bad coffee.

Still not sure, speak to your nutritionist or medical professional who know you and can advise your more thoroughly than any Internat article can do.

Finding and Keeping a Job with Autism

Autistic ChildAutism – A most misunderstood disease. Fact is that people with autism are a great asset to society and should be treated with the same respect as the rest of us, but there are those who just don’t understand the disease and tend to shy away from them.

With that said, what happens when someone with autism spectrum disorder completes his or her education and steps into the real ‘adult’ world? How smooth is this transition and what can be done to aid those facing difficulties due to ASD? 

Autism and Difficulty in Finding Meaningful Employment

It’s difficult for everyone to find and keep meaningful employment. Rising competition and demands from employers regarding experience and educational qualifications has made it impossible for Americans to find decent jobs. Imagine how much harder it must be for people with autism.

Let’s see the numbers:

Only 39 to 42 percent of clients (with ASD) take help from the United States vocational rehabilitation system found jobs between 2002 and 2006. Additionally, many individuals who are employed have trouble retaining their position (most are overqualified for their jobs).  

Another research conducted in 2013 found only about 53% of young adults with autism had even worked outside of their homes in the first 8 years after secondary education. Moreover, only 1 in 5 worked for a minimum age or less with aspirations of a better job or career.

Another point of interest is the difference between younger individuals coming from a low economic background compared to older people coming from a higher income household. Not only are those individuals high functioning in society but are more likely to find a job and advance in the position.

Helping You Find Good Career Prospects – One Step at a Time

Autism isn’t and shouldn’t be a hindrance to individuals facing this learning disability. Most autistic individuals are responsible, dependable, honest hard-workers who will never let you down. You can find companies that hire here and Howard Fensterman is a philanthropist who can offer help to autistic individuals when it comes to finding and retaining good employees. 

Following are some steps that can be taken to start the process:

Create a List of Strengths

Writing down all skills and strengths in a list helps get clear perspective about what the individual is good at doing. Next comes listing down dream jobs as well as jobs that you won’t have any trouble doing. Try to match possible job leads to your strengths.  

Other steps to take are:

  • Make a list of all contacts that could help with the job search. Having a good personal network is better than any other. Start with your family, friends, neighbors and other people who know you.
  • Consider joining job search and social networking websites. This will help you increase your contact list.

The rest of us can help make it easier for individuals with learning disabilities to not only find good jobs but become better functioning members of society. It would be a win-win both for you as an employer and the person working for you!

 

An Overview of Liver Transplantation

Anatomy_of_liver_and_gall_bladderLiver transplantation is a life-saving treatment that is part of the standard healthcare practices to treat many end-stage liver diseases. It is the surgical process of removing the malfunctioning liver and replacing it with a healthy liver from a deceased or living donor.

In case of regular liver infections and diseases, the liver can heal itself with a unique process of regeneration.

What is liver regeneration?

Liver regeneration is a complex process of liver homeostasis which activates when part of the  liver is surgically removed or chemically damaged. Studies have proven that 25% of the original liver volume can regenerate itself.

Liver regeneration starts with cell proliferation, which begins with the replication of hepatocytes (the main cells of the liver). The proliferation then completes with the replication of endothelial and epithelial cells.

Conditions when liver transplantation becomes necessary

Human beings are gifted with this innate ability of the liver to regenerate. However, there are instances where the liver is damaged beyond its capacity to self-heal. When this happens, you need help through medical means which provide you the option of a liver transplant.

The disability of liver cells to function normally, the loss of liver cells and the scarring of liver is referred to as cirrhosis. When a significant part of liver is affected by cirrhosis, then there are no other viable options other than going for a liver transplant.  

There are several medical conditions that can lead to dangerous levels of cirrhosis.

Hepatitis B

When hepatitis B becomes chronic and can’t be treated with conventional treatments, patients are recommended liver transplants.

Substance abuse of alcohol

Long term and excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. The disease jaundice is one of these can can be attributed to a defective liver. In addition, overdose of certain pain medications that contain acetaminophen can be damaging to the liver.

Autoimmune hepatitis

Unlike other classes of hepatitis which are caused by different viruses, autoimmune hepatitis is the condition in which a person’s immune system mistakes its own liver cells as harmful foreign invaders. Autoimmune hepatitis is chronic in nature and can lead to liver failure and cirrhosis.

Liver cancer

Liver cancer is mostly diagnosed in old people. In its advances stages, it can only be treated with a liver transplant.

Acute liver failure

Overdose of certain drugs can lead to sudden liver failure. Liver transplant is recommended in fast-acting acute liver failure.

Types of Liver Transplant

There are different types of liver transplants that are offered to a person fighting of dangerous liver diseases.

Orthotopic transplant

An orthotopic transplant is the most common type of liver transplant surgery in which the person undergoing surgery gets the replacement of the whole liver organ from a deceased donor. Orthotopic transplants are done with the help of people who pledge to donate their healthy organs prior to their death.

Living donor transplant

There has always been a big difference between the number of deceased donors and the people who await liver transplantation and it is nearly impossible to facilitate every patient with orthotopic transplant.

With technical advancements in surgical procedure, it has become now feasible to transplant a part of liver in the person which is donated by a willing liver donor.

The success of living donor transplant is based on the concept of liver regeneration. If body does not reject the transplant, then the transplanted part of the liver can regenerate itself to the original size within week or two and the donor’s removed portion of the liver also grows back to its actual size.

Since this type of transplant is complex in nature, there are certain criteria that need to be met.

    • The donor must be in between 18-60 years of age, with good mental and physical health
    • The donor must have a BMI of less than 35
    • The donor and recipient must have a compatible blood type
    • The donor must be free from significant organ diseases and transmissible diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis
    • The donor must not be an active substance abuser

Prevention of liver diseases

It is an old cliché, but there is no doubt that prevention is better than cure. Therefore make sure that your liver remains healthy by keeping in mind the following guidelines.

    • Keep your consumption of alcohol low or moderate
    • Get regular vaccinations for hepatitis if you are more susceptible to the hepatitis virus
    • Take medications cautiously – don’t mix medications with alcohol and non prescribed supplements
    • Practice safe sex
    • Obesity is the major reason behind non alcoholic fatty liver disease, so adopt healthy eating habits

Remember that a liver transplant is the last resort to treat a faulty liver and it is better that you make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy liver first. A standard lifestyle should be sufficient in maintaining a healthy liver. Doing things like heavy drinking or overdosing on OTC or prescription drugs are some of the causes that would cause your liver to acquire a disease.

Most importantly, nothing beats getting regular check ups with your doctor! You get your car maintained. Make sure you do it with your body as well!

Nicotine Craving and Withdrawals: The Main Reason Behind Failed Attempts to Quit Smoking

Smoking Inhibitor
What keeps you from quitting?

Currently, over one-billion people around over the world smoke cigarettes. It is killing machine that sends seven million people to their deaths each year. As we know, there are many serious physical and mental problems that are associated with frequent smoking.

Many people pledge to quit smoking, but most of them fail to keep this pledge because they can’t beat the cigarette or nicotine craving. Many fail to quit smoking because they don’t understand the underlying reasons associated with nicotine withdrawals and they don’t learn how to outsmart those carvings.

There are many ‘remedies’ out there to help people who are hooked on nicotine. For some, they work. For others, they don’t. Remember that quitting smoking is all about resisting those cravings and having the willpower to deal with your withdrawals.

Side effects of nicotine consumption

Nicotine is a potent psychoactive alkaloid that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system by inducing various effects on the brain. However, there are several side effects that are associated with regular consumption of nicotine.

Since cigarettes are the most common type of nicotine administration that uses tobacco as the main source and is thought to have more than 70 carcinogens, nicotine consumption is more dangerous for health than you think.

There are several side effects that are associated with nicotine consumption

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Coughing
  • Constipation
  • Soreness in mouth and throat and change in taste
  • Upset stomach

People who have serious medical problems can get some severe side effects from the regular use of nicotine.

  • Rashes and swelling
  • Irregular heartbeat for long time period
  • Chest pains

If someone experiences these side effects, it is better to get immediate medical help.

Cigarette and nicotine withdrawals

Since nicotine can be as addictive as alcohol, cocaine and other addictive drugs, it results in various withdrawal symptoms when you stop using.

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal depend on the level of your addiction i.e. how long you have been using nicotine and the quantity of your daily nicotine consumption.

Some of the common nicotine withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Loss of concentration
  • Severe headaches
  • Gastrointestinal cramping

The psychological symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are underlined with irritability, bouts of anxiety and depression. In some cases, people also gain weight temporarily when they stop smoking

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are more severe in the following days of quitting but for some people they can persist for weeks or even months.

How to cope with nicotine cravings

While you experience the symptoms of nicotine withdrawals, you are simultaneously craving for it. Therefore if you are planning to quit smoking, prepare yourself for extreme cigarette craving.

Fill up your lungs with fresh air

Nicotine cravings often induce anxiety which urges you to smoke. To relax your mind in this situation, take up deep breathing exercises. Go outside and instead of filling your lungs with harmful carcinogenic smoke, fill them up with some fresh air. Take 5-10 deep breaths at a time. Lowering the level of your withdrawal anxiety will help you to stay on the course.

A healthy snack for each cigarette

Make a list of healthy snacks that are low in sugar and carbs, and treat yourself to them whenever you feel the strong urge to smoke. Citrus fruits and nuts are good options for these types of snacks. Engaging yourself in eating instead of smoking will also help distract the mind. Healthy food plays a role in improving the deteriorated state of your body due to excessive smoking as well.

Social support is vital

Having social support around you significantly helps in fighting nicotine or cigarette cravings. Being alone when your body is craving for nicotine will make you more susceptible to smoking again. When you quit smoking, make sure that you spend most of the time with friends and family.

Avoid smoker’s company

Many times people fail to quit smoking because people around them continue to smoke. Explain to your smoker friends about your quit plan so that they can understand why you are avoiding them. It has been noticed that people who successfully quit smoking once and overcome all the withdrawals and cravings, don’t get tempted by smokers around them again. So, you can rejoin your smoker friends once you are sure that you have got rid of the vice for good.

Apart from all these techniques, keep yourself busy in activities where your mind can be distracted. Start exercising, immerse yourself in reading, and listen to some calming music.

Controlled nicotine consumption

To treat the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal in heavy smokers, controlled nicotine is recommended where you gradually decrease the quantity of nicotine consumption by getting small amounts of nicotine from sources other than cigarettes. Nicotine gums, inhalers, sprays and nicotine patches are used for this purpose. Remember, use these products under the supervision of a professional physician.

What are free radicals and how to counter them with antioxidants?

Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron
Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron, causing it to become a free radical

Many of us have often heard about the negative effects of free radicals on human health. However, very few of us know what free radicals are and how they work against the human body to inflict harm.

In this informational piece, we will discuss how free radicals affect our health and how we can alleviate their harmful effects with the help of antioxidants.

What are free radicals?

Free radical is the name given to any molecule, atom or ion that possesses an unpaired electron. Electrons, when not paired in their atomic orbits are highly unstable and reactive. To achieve stability, free radicals try to pair their unpaired electron through the process of oxidation.

In oxidation, free radicals try to attract or rather steal electrons from other stable atoms and molecules. If they are successful in this attempt, it sets off an oxidative chain reaction which can affect hundreds of millions of molecules and atoms.

Let’s see how free radicals operate in the environment of the human body.

Reactions of free radicals in our body

When free radicals are formed or enter into our body, they try to get electrons from different molecules, be it proteins, fats, cell membranes or genetic molecules; in other words, they try to steal electrons from the atoms of the nutrients that work to keep us healthy. The removal of an electron from any such molecule within the body changes its basic structure and triggers an oxidative chain reaction. This phenomenon caused by free radicals is also known as the oxidative stress.

What is the free radical theory of aging?

According to the free radical theory of aging, organisms age because their biological cells accumulates oxidative damage of free radicals over time. Even though the debate on the authenticity of this theory is still ongoing,  research studies have agreed on the fact that the oxidative stress can lead to much degeneration. For instance arthritis, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and many other health complications can be caused by the prevalence of free radicals.

According to the free radical theory of aging, if oxidative destruction caused by free radicals can be capped, then it can provide longevity to any living being.

Have we found the fountain of youth?  Most likely not, but have we found a way to keep us healthy to the point that we may live longer? Absolutely.

Sources of Free Radicals

To counter the effects of free radicals, it is imperative to know the sources of free radicals. Either they are produced within the body or we get exposed to them from external sources. Whatever the case, knowing where they come from, holds the key to getting rid of them.

Internal sources of free radicals

  • The human body needs the energy to survive and grow. This energy comes from breaking down the food that we eat into ATP molecules with the help of oxygen. This chemical reaction also produces free radicals as a byproduct.
  • Apart from metabolic byproduct, free radicals are also produced when the body undergoes severe stress levels or inflammation.

External sources of free radicals

There are lots of harmful environmental resources that can expose the human body to free radicals.

  • Industrial pollution (including chemicals and smoke)
  • Radiation
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic Metals
  • Cigarette Smoke

It is practically impossible to get rid of external free radicals altogether since they are all around us, in the air we breathe and in the food and water we consume. The best practice is to try and minimize their levels in your body.

How to do this? Read on for more information.

Antioxidants: Crusaders against free radicals

As the name suggests, antioxidants are substances that inhibit the process of oxidation. Introducing antioxidants in the body means that you can stop the process of oxidative stress triggered by free radicals.

Antioxidants usually stop free radicals from inflicting damage to biological molecules by donating the electron they are looking for.

Like free radicals, some antioxidants are produced within the body, while others can be consumed through dietary products and supplements. Usually, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of some very effective antioxidants.

There are three main antioxidants that are synthesized in different organs of the body and have different reactions.

  • Glutathione
  • Uric acid
  • Ubiquinol

There are several other antioxidants, which although not as vital as the above three, are also necessary for combating the negative effects of free radicals.

  • Lycopene
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Anthocyanins
  • Selenium
  • Polyphenols
  • Curcuminoids

What Foods Contain the Highest Amounts of Antioxidants?

Generally, you can’t go wrong with any types of fruits and vegetables, but of these, the ones with the highest amounts of antioxidants are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Artichokes
  • Elderberries
  • Kidney beans
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cilantro (Chinese parsley)

Making Sense of it All

In general, you can make sure that your body has access to antioxidants by adjusting your dietary habits around fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods are one of the richest sources of micronutrients and antioxidants, and both of these substances are necessary to rid the body of free radicals.

Bottom Line: Keep free-radicals at bay by consuming foods rich in anti-oxidants daily.

 

Improving Your Quality of Life With the Help of Meditation

Meditation can calm the mind and body
Woman in seawater at sunset meditating

Stress and anxiety have become a norm of the modern-day lifestyle. Unfortunately, for a very long time, people didn’t consider these psychological problems as worthy of attention. We were more focused on keeping our bodies physically healthy, and lost focus on the importance of mental hygiene and keeping a healthy mind. However, over time, the perception of various mental issues have changed. Now more people strive to find the solutions for these problems, because they are aware of the fact that without the healthy state of mind it will be difficult to achieve the improved quality of life.  

What is quality of life?

The term ‘quality of life’ is outlined by a set of different parameters like physical health, financial stability, education, family and religious beliefs of an individual. All of these parameters, which determine the quality of life, are strongly associated with one’s mental health. It is safe to assume that no matter how well you are doing with all the mentioned aspects, if you don’t have mental peace then you can’t able to appreciate the quality of life.

If mental problems persist for long, it can negatively affect all those characteristics necessary to attain the improved quality of life.

What is the solution?

In the previous section, it has become quite clear that how important mental health is to lead a happy life. So how one can get rid of all those mental ailments that make it difficult for us to cherish our lives? The answer lies in the mental exercises carried out by humans being for thousands of years. According to ancient Hindu scripts, meditation was nearly started 5000 years ago.

Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware. It is also known as the exercise in which person observes his train of thought without judging and interrupting them. The mindfulness achieved through meditation helps you to focus on the present moment instead of getting distracted by the ever-persisting clutter of thoughts.

There are several benefits of meditation to the mental health that can help you to improve the quality of life.

Meditation: The stress killer

Reducing stress through meditation is the best gift you can give to yourself. Our modern day lives are crammed with so much stressor that our mind gets overwhelmed by all that negativity of the stress. Different stressors basically fires up neurons, the constant stimulation of nerve cells results in agitation. You can tackle this mental agitation by practicing meditation.

Practicing meditation and mindfulness helps you to shape up the responses of your brain to the incoming stressors. When you are more in control of your brain, it is less likely that brain will go haywire all of a sudden by releasing the stress hormone cortisol. It has been reported that mediators takes less toll of the stressful conditions as compared to other people. Shedding considerable amount of stress from your everyday life automatically contributes to improve the quality of it.

Meditation gives you a less distractive mind

We are living in an era where we have been distracted by a plethora of things in every given moment of the day, thanks to the technological innovations. Our concentration levels and attention spans are greatly affected by those distractions. Loss of attention and concentration contributes to the poor grades for students and less productivity of the working professionals. Quality of life is strongly connected to good education and professional success.

Since meditation is about ‘focusing’ on the present, it helps in increasing the capability of mind to focus and concentrate which assist person in different life affairs.

Meditation makes you more self-aware

Meditation also increases the level of self-awareness in a person which helps him in becoming less harmful to himself. Simply put, highly self-aware person tries to adopt healthy lifestyle. People start to eat healthy and many people quit smoking and excessive drinking after regular practice of meditation.

Meditation helps in accepting oneself

Accepting one’s self is the hardest thing many people come across with. Meditation helps you to accept yourself with all the faults and shortcomings. People can’t able to experience the feel of present moment just because they don’t want to accept their present self and they keep continue to chase the illusion of perfection. Meditation helps people to accept themselves with ifs and buts and that helps them to experience and feel the happiness of the given instant.

It is given that all the discussed benefits of mediation can certainly increase the quality of your life and also of the people around you.

A Short Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Checking WaistlineObesity has become a worldwide concern due to the multiple health complications associated with it. People living in the developed countries are especially affected by the problem of weight gain. To address the issue of obesity, nutritionists have introduced many different diets and eating patterns. There are experts advocating to adopt the eating habits of the Stone Age in the form of paleo diet. Then there are some who are in favor of fat-based diets to curb the malevolence of obesity.

The one common denominator with all these eating plans is to eat healthily. Among all these diet programs, intermittent fasting* has gained much popularity among the weight loss aspirants. However, it seems as if many people still don’t know exactly what intermittent fasting is and therefore, they hold certain reservations and misconceptions about the concept.

What is intermittent fasting?

Simply, it is an eating model in which an individual goes through alternative cycles of eating and fasting. Intermittent fasting is not about what you eat, rather it’s concerned with when to eat. There are several sub-categories of intermittent fasting, all of which depend on the duration of fasting and eating periods.

Misconceptions regarding intermittent fasting

Misconceptions often hold us back from adopting the right habits. Here are some of the widespread misconceptions about the functioning of intermittent fasting.

You are allowed to binge eat during the eating period

Many people think that intermittent fasting is all about going extreme with your eating routine i.e. for a period you have to starve and then for a time slot you are entitled to non-stop eating. That’s not the case at all; otherwise, you won’t be able to get any benefits from this eating pattern.  

Only water is allowed during the fasting period

This is another false fact associated with intermittent fasting that you are only allowed to drink water during the fasted phase. You can consume caffeine products (green, black tea and coffee) during the fasting period. Supplements and other drinks with zero calories can also be used during the non-eating phase.

Longer fasting periods are better

No, this is not true. Fasting for more than 20 hours can become counterproductive. Remember that a fasting phase doesn’t entail starving yourself.

Feeling hungry is bad for health

There isn’t any substantial body of research behind this claim that feeling hungry is harmful to your health. So don’t get worried that a mere feeling of starvation will result in the loss of vital mass (muscles) of the body, no such thing happens during the fasting period.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

Now let’s’ delve into some of the proven benefits of perfectly carried out intermittent fasting.

Losing abdominal fat

Losing abdominal fat in order to reduce weight and to get back into shape is the primary reason many start intermittent fasting. There are certain characteristics of intermittent fasting that helps in losing excessive fat:

  • Overall, you consume fewer calories during the complete cycle of fasting. Fewer calories mean there will be less amount of residual fats produced from the excessive calories.
  • Fasting helps in enhancing different beneficial hormone functions of the body resulting in revved-up metabolic rate which also helps in burning more calories.

It means intermittent fasting is a two-pronged method of reducing weight. It limits the average calorie intake of an individual while simultaneously increasing the metabolic rate.

Preventing and lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes

In recent years, type 2 diabetes has become one of the most prevalent diseases all around the world. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where blood sugar or glucose levels exceed their normal limits in the bloodstream due to lower insulin levels in the blood. A research study indicates that intermittent fasting can improve insulin resistance which helps in reducing blood sugar levels.

Health concerns related to intermittent fasting

While with its benefits for the people facing obesity and type 2 diabetes, there are certain downsides of intermittent fasting as well that can affect certain individuals.

Dehydration

In some instances, the fasted phase can result in dehydration. It usually occurs because people practicing intermittent fasting are not getting the fluid portion of the solid food items.

High-stress levels and headaches

During the initial phase of intermittent fasting, one can experience increased stress levels resulting from disturbed sleep pattern and headache.

If carried out properly, intermittent fasting can provide you with its benefits. However, it is always better to consult a nutritionist before adopting a new eating pattern.  

* Note: You should always confer with a health professional prior to beginning any weight loss program!

Why are Whole Grains Preferred Over Refined Ones?

Man Eating Biscut
Maintain a healthier lifestyle by being vigilant as to what are processed foods and what is not.

With a prevalence of obesity in this country, where complications of diabetes and other health ailments occur as a result, people look for ways to control their dietary habits. People are more inclined to now focus on dietary items that are raw and less refined. Among these natural healthy food options, whole grain top the list in terms of popularity. However, many experts suggest that there is still a long way to go.

A worrying statistic indicates that nearly 60% of calorie consumption is from ultra-processed food; that is, extra ingredients that are placed into the food in order to make it taste better and sometimes “to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product,” as per a study by Carlos Augusto Monteiro, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.  These foods contain high amounts of sugars, saturated fat and sodium, which can present such medical dangers as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

Health risks of refined grain

Wheat Grain in a FieldMany of us have become overly reliant on ready-made food items, such as products that are processed with refined wheat, rice and barley. Flour, for example, is crushed into fine powders, which then form the basis for many types of bread and a large variety of processed foods, from cereals, crackers and pizza dough to cookies and cakes.

Apart from having less nutritional value, refined grains also pose significant health risks to the people consuming them on a daily basis.

Following is a list of just some of the health hazards that can be acquired when eating refined products.

Accumulation of abdominal fat leading to heart problems

Refined grain, as the main source of getting nutritional values in your diet, accumulates layers of adipose tissues (fat) around your organs. It results into inflated waste along with complications of heart health.

Development of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the condition in which artery walls get thickened. Thick arteries can result into hypertension and in worse conditions culminates into heart attacks. It has been found out that consumption of refined grains for a long time can lead to this ailment. 

Diabetic conditions

Due to its lack of fiber, minerals and other micronutrients, refined grains can make the human body more vulnerable in acquiring diabetes, especially in people with a genetic history of the disease.

How Do We Know Which Foods are Ultra-Processed?

Boxes_of_cereal_in_a_supermarket
The decision to buy non-processed foods can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for
Whole Grain Stamp
Foods with the whole grain stamp label on its packaging indicate that the bran, germ and endosperm are still present in the grain.

Read the label. If it says the food contains artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, there is not much doubt they are processed with ingredients that can be harmful to your health.

Conversely, foods that still contain the bran, germ and endosperm, and subsequently, the nutrients that accompany them will have a label on its packaging indicating that the food within contains whole grains.

Those foods that have been processed organically will have a clear label indicating this.

What are whole grains?

Simply put, whole grains are natural grains present in their untreated form. They are edible plant seeds usually known as the term ‘kernel’. The grain kernel consists of three distinctive edible parts that are enclosed in a shell, a natural protection for grains from excessive sunlight, insects and crop diseases.  Let’s break down the three individual parts of whole grains to understand the nutrients within them.

Bran

Bran is the outermost layer of kernel consisting of many layers.
Nutritional Benefit: It is full of fibers, vitamins B and vital antioxidants.

Germ

Germ is the nucleus of the kernel and acts as the plant’s embryo.  Nutritional Benefit: Germ of the whole grain is loaded with proteins, healthy fats and micronutrients in the form of minerals and vitamins.

Endosperm

Endosperm is the area of kernel surrounding the germ. It provides the plant’s energy through its abundance of nutrients.
Nutritional Benefit: Endosperm contains almost all of the carbohydrates of the kernel, with a portion of proteins and some micronutrients.

Whole grain is more nutritious because the germ and bran, which is part of the kernel are not destroyed and excluded in the process refinement. To get yourself more acquainted with the usefulness of whole grains, the following are some of its advantages:

Improved digestion

We all know that how much of our adult population is bugged with digestive issues. The rich fiber content present in whole grains improves the bowel movement which means you don’t have to rely on laxatives. The presence of lactic acid in whole grains helps the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine. Presence of good bacteria in the intestine helps in rapid nutrient absorptions and strengthened immune system.

Instills the feeling of satiation

Whole grains are famous to keep your appetite low with their satiating effect. It takes longer for the digestive system to digest whole grains which means your brain will not signal you for untimely eating. This innate quality of whole grain can help people who are striving to lose weight.  

Blood sugar regulator

Whole grain helps in controlling the spiked up levels of blood sugar. With its low glycemic index as compared to refined grains, less glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, helping in maintaining the blood glucose levels.

Whole grains are also proved to be beneficial in reducing the inflammation within in the body. Medical sciences tell us that inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases. Antioxidants present in whole grains can also reduce the risk of different types of cancers. In general, increasing the quantity of whole grain in our daily diet can ensure a healthy lifestyle.

A Perfect Breakfast for Nutritional Health

To begin, let’s start with of two slices of 100% whole wheat toast. This bread is loaded with bran, germ and endosperm. The bran provides B vitamins, as well as iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and antioxidants. For a spread, let’s not add butter, margarine or cream cheese. Instead, how about some dark chocolate hummus! Yes, dark chocolate hummus. It is said that middle-eastern food contains some of the healthiest foods around and hummus is one of the best middle-eastern foods you can consume.

Can’t Go Wrong with Hummus

Hummus is made up of chickpeas, which is rich in many nutrients; such as, iron, which keeps your blood healthy. If you don’t have enough of this nutrient, then your body won’t be able to create the healthy red blood cells it needs. Folate decreases the risk of birth defects and helps to reduce depression. Phosphorus keeps your bones strong and Improves digestion. Chickpeas contain B vitamins, together, known as the Vitamin B Complex, allows us to stay energized, promotes healthy skin and helps avoid memory loss. Then there is protein, an ingredient that most of us are familiar with is a  is a “macronutrient” – a requirement of our body to have a large amount of. Protein assists in maintaining strong bones and builds muscle. It is also a building block for our skin and blood. Then there is fiber, a super nutrient for your digestive system and it also lowers cholesterol levels.

Dark Chocolate – A Chocolate Lover’s Health Dream!

Add dark chocolate as a bread spread (you can get hummus dark chocolate at a variety of supermarket chain stores). The seeds from the cocoa tree are extremely rich in antioxidants, resulting in keeping those unwanted free-radicals at bay. Free-radicals are substances that your body can definitely do without. Dark chocolate, called the antioxidant superfood is also beneficial for blood pressure, the heart and helps towards cancer prevention. And believe it or not, dark chocolate is actually good for your dental health!

An Egg Omelet a Day!

Egg Yolk with Egg White on sandwich
The common egg contains many nutrients

Now, to the entree of breakfast health. Do you like omelets? Most omelets contain some amount of eggs as one of their major ingredients, so let’s delve into the benefits of eating eggs. In a nutshell, eggs increase the good cholesterol (HDL), they reduce the risk of type 2 Diabetes, reduces blood pressure and helps to maintain good eye health, but the bulk of the nutrition is in the egg whites, which contain protein,sodiumcalciummagnesiumphosphorus and potassium. Consumption of potassium is very good for the heart and blood pressure, as well as helps relieve anxiety.

Let’s not stop with just an egg omelet. How about one rich in healthy vegetables; such as spinach? Spinach contains generous amounts of antioxidants. It also contains vitamins A, another free-radical fighter, but spinach also plays an important role in the maintenance of the heart, lungs and kidneys. Spinach has vitamin B2 and vitamin C, rich in antioxidants and helps to strengthen the immune system, but most importantly, it also contains vitamin C, which is a super nutrient for bone health. The vitamin K* in spinach contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.

Add an assortment of mushrooms, which decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

* Those who are taking blood thinners or other medications might want to consult with a doctor prior to consuming foods that contain vitamin K.

Kale – A Super Veggie

SJM Graphicstock 111117 Kale
baby kale salad leaves

Saving the best breakfast ingredient for last – kale (and doesn’t only have to be for breakfast). A super veggie that contains a huge amount of vitamin A, which maintains healthy vision, neurological functionality, healthy skin and a ton of antioxidants. Kalea also contains vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium and magnesium. We have already spoken about the benefits of vitamin C. Vitamin B6 helps maintain a healthy nervous system. Manganese supports bone health and helps prevent Osteoporosis. Calcium, also a great bone benefactor and studies have shown that most people do not get enough of. Copper is a brain stimulant and helps cure Arthritis. Magnesium assists in the prevention of migraine headaches and is also an anxiety reducer.

Now let’s discuss vitamin K. Studies have shown that this nutrient helps brain functions, bone health, assists in the reduction of blood pressure and is excellent in preventing blood clotting. Don’t leave your home without it!

Add some potatoes and a little bit of tasty melted cheese. Most cheeses contain an assortment of nutrients; such as calcium. Cheeses also contain protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12.

To wash it down, gobble down some 100% fresh squeezed orange juice. I like it with pulp. When the pulp is there, you know you are getting it fresh squeezed. You will benefit from high levels of vitamin C.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Blueberries over plate of cottage cheese
Fruits such as blueberries are great antioxidant foods

A side dish of your favorite fruits is highly recommended. How about some blueberries, which supports the skin, heart, fights cancer and provides more antioxidants to your body; strawberries, another cancer fighter, supports the eyes and regulates blood pressure; grapes, the fiber and potassium support your heart; and cantaloupe, which contains potassium, vitamins B1, B3, B6, and folate, as well as vitamin K, magnesium, and fiber. Place it over cottage cheese for a healthy antioxidant super fruit combination. Yummy.

Coffee – The Most Misunderstood Drink for Your Health

HotcCoffee on a plate
Yes, coffee can keep you awake – and that’s a good thing, but coffee also protects against diseases.

Your breakfast would not be complete without brewing a nice hot cup of coffee. Yes, coffee, one of the most misunderstood drinks when it comes to the subject of health.

Just for starters, coffee can help reduce the potential of acquiring dementia and subsequently, Alzheimer’s Disease. It also protects against Parkinson’s Disease – the second most common neurodegenerative disease and its caffeine inducer also assists in strengthening the liver. Coffee is a benefactor in lowering the risk of Type II Diabetes. If that’s not enough to get your blood warming for coffee, it helps to burn fat and increases energy levels, due to the caffeine. Some of coffee’s nutrients are Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin (B3).

But coffee is not without some downfalls; however, we believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

While your heart and bones are loving every minute of your nutritious breakfast, there is one more healthy liquid that you should drink besides juice and coffee. And that is the most natural ingredient your body will ever need. H20, otherwise, known as water! Drink an abundance of water, not just at breakfast time, but throughout the day. You can’t go wrong with water and you can’t go without it!

Whether you are cooking breakfast in your own kitchen or going to the local diner or restaurant, be sure to order these antioxidant fighters of diseases and have peace of mind that the vitamins and nutrients in a complete breakfast like this will be the start of a great day!

How E-Cigarettes Harms Your Health

E-Cigarette canistorPhoto by Adrian.Today – yayimages.comIn our last article, we compared E-cigarettes with conventional cigarettes. In this article, we are going to dwell deeper into the actual effects that you body is subjected to when using these apparent ‘safer’ non-nicotine equivalents of the standard cigarette.

Electronic cigarettes are sold as a safer alternative to consume nicotine as compared to conventional cigarettes. They have been becoming increasingly popular with many people, especially youngsters in order to fulfill their nicotine needs.

Apart from the e-cigarettes stylish look, which attracts many impressionable teenagers, many people genuinely consider them harmless for oral health.  But with more scientific study on the subject, dangers of e-cigarettes are coming to the foray.  

Misconception: E-cigarettes are harmless to Oral Health

One of a recent study conducted in University of Rochester Medical Center reveals that electronic cigarettes are equal in their extent of damage to oral health as conventional cigarettes. It is an extensive research study, first of its kind, which studied the harmful effect of e-cigarettes on gums and teeth. It concludes that this form of nicotine consumption is equally and in some cases more damaging to oral health. These oral health problems include tooth loss, gum inflammation and even oral cancer.

The liquid used in e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco in its conventional form, which is notorious for its harmful impact on health. However, it contains nicotine, flavoring agents and other chemicals that can compromise the user’s health.

Laid Back Attitude Towards the Harm of E-cigarette

Due to lack of awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes, society does not perceive it as a threat to health. Stats from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows rapid increase in the use of e-cigarettes among youngsters. In 2015, around 16 percent of high-school students were using e-cigarettes as compared to just 1.5% in 2011.

One of the reasons is that it is still considered relatively safe for heath is because its long-term effects are not known yet. There is very limited data available on the subject which lags the process of research on the subject.  

However, the research from the University of Rochester has given a substantial proof of negative effects of e-cigarette vapors. Research has used nonsmokers to observe the effects of e-cigarettes and it has been concluded that the vapors cause damage to tissue cells of gum. When cells are exposed to nicotine-led vapors, it results in the denaturation of inflammatory cellular proteins resulting in high levels of stress within cells. Stressed tissue cells make gums more vulnerable to different oral diseases. Another study finds out that vapors of e-cigarette can kill mouth cells at a rapid pace.  

Apart from dangerous to oral health, e-cigarettes are also considered bad for many other reasons.

Suppression of Immune System

A comparative research study on the effects of conventional and e-cigarettes reveals that e-cigarettes suppress the activity of 300 immune system-aiding genes as compared to the conventional smokes. The research is conducted on nasal epithelial cells. The conclusion of study clearly points out that the vapors of e-cigarettes contain immunosuppressive effects on the body.

Electrical Hazard

Since e-cigarettes are operated through batteries, they contain an inherent electrical hazard that can be very dangerous for users. The lithium ion batteries used in e-cigarettes can overheat to cause a small explosion which can severely injure the mouth.

Unregulated Amount of Nicotine

Nicotine is a psychoactive chemical compound. Its continuous and excessive use can transform into substance abuse. In most of the e-cigarettes liquids, nicotine is included without any regulation and users are not aware of the quantity they are consuming.

Aerosol of E-Cigarettes Contain Metal Particles

Researchers have studied the constituents of e-cigarette aerosols. It has been found that metals such as tin, silver, iron, silicate and chromium were present nearly on the same levels as they have been found in conventional cigarette smoke.  Presence of these nanoparticles in the body is associated with different health complications such as respiratory diseases and abnormal cell growth.

Its Liquid is Poisonous

According to press release issued from CDC, the number of calls into poison centers involving e-cigarettes liquid had increased 215 times in the span of four years. The incidents involve the cases of ingestion, absorption and inhalation of the liquid. Many of the emergencies involve children who might be attracted to the candy and fruit flavor of the e-cigarette liquid.

Due to all these problems originating from e-cigarettes, it is very evident that they are injurious to heath and can cause damages akin to conventional smoking.