By Natural Advocate | December 1, 2012 - 9:48 am - Posted in Energy Enhancement

With the spate of reports in the news lately, it’s easy to make assumptions that energy drinks are simply a danger that should be avoided. However, is there really anything to the fact that several deaths recently have been potentially linked to the victims drinking certain energy drinks (or in the case of 5 Hour Energy, a shot)?

I think that anything that is overly caffeinated like these types of drinks must be consumed in extreme moderation. But as with every other vice here in America, there are those that go way overboard and put their lives at risk by consuming too much and putting their hearts at risk. Even if you drink too much coffee for example, your heart can begin to beat very rapidly and can even begin to express an arrhythmia if you’re not careful.

This is true especially for those of us that are extremely susceptible to the effects of caffeine. Certain individuals are simply more apt to experience these types of effects if they drink caffeine. It can be hereditary, or it can be due to a lack of lifetime exposure to caffeinated beverages and therefore a low tolerance.

There have been several reports lately of heart attacks and other deadly issues occurring that are associated with the drinking of these highly caffeinated drinks which contain numerous other ingredients that can add to the negative effects like taurine and artificial sweeteners or sugar.

5 Hour Energy was the latest to come out as having a possible link to everything from a spontaneous abortion to heart attacks. The FDA has come forward and said there were about 5 reports of possible deaths and other health issues that were linked to the popular energy shot. The company has said that they follow all safety guidelines and takes any health issues that might be associated to their product seriously.

I must say, I’ve used 5 Hour Energy on occasion and I really like it. I’ve also tried some of the generic knockoffs and do not like them at all.

The other energy drink that’s gotten a lot of negative publicity lately is Monster Energy drinks. There were reports coming in allover for a while that the drink may have caused deaths, the most alarming in a very young person who consumed several in one day.

You really have to use extreme caution with these energy drinks and do not consume more than a little at a time. You should also only use them in the case of emergency, when coffee won’t cut it or you need caffeine to your system pronto. Otherwise, the combination of ingredients in these energy drinks seems to have dire consequences for some.

And especially use caution if you have any history of heart defects. That is absolutely crucial.

 

By Natural Advocate | March 23, 2011 - 11:14 am - Posted in Alternative & Herbal Health News, Energy Enhancement

Sometimes I feel guilty about my daily cup of coffee in the morning, a habit which I became addicted to just a few months ago after my green tea with lemon just wasn’t waking me up enough in the morning to prepare for my early mornings and long work days. 

Unfortunately, even though it is perceived as less healthy than other stimulating drinks like green tea and yerba mate, coffee is the only stimulant hot drink that really wakes me up in the morning. Not only that, I strongly prefer it’s taste, aroma and general effectiveness over other stimulants as well.

Caffeine used to make me break out, but I think my body has developed a tolerance to it since I started back up on a daily cup or half cup of coffee in the morning. Well, according to some new research, I may actually be doing something good for my body by drinking that daily cup of joe (aside from the creamer and sugar I put in it of course).

New research has shown that women who drink a daily cup of coffee may actually be at a much lower risk of stroke than women who do not drink coffee.  Might this have something to do with coffee helping to keep the blood vessels dilated? 

Of course, this study, which was done on Swedish women, refutes some other studies which say that daily coffee intake may be bad for your heart (caffeine can induce a more rapid heart rate, thereby making your heart work harder for a short duration).

The study showed that women who drank coffee actually enjoyed a 22% to 25% lower risk of stroke than women who were not big coffee drinkers.  Not bad.

Even though the findings and the numbers are compelling, researchers are quick to point out that they cannot directly prove that the coffee is the direct link to lower stroke risk in these women. They just know that this particular group of women happened to drink coffee every day.

For example, maybe these women take supplements or eat a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which helps increase heart health and decrease stroke risk, or they may eat other foods that are linked to good health. 

There may be other lifestyle factors, genetic factors, or diet factors that are at work there too that were not known at the time.  Well, I guess I’ll take it – it makes me feel less guilty about this one “vice” I have!

By Natural Advocate | August 22, 2010 - 9:13 pm - Posted in Energy Enhancement

So, I’ve prided myself on only drinking coffee on the weekends for quite a while now. Sure, I’d have the occasional cup on a week day before work when I just couldn’t do it without the extra zing in my step I get from the specific caffeine you get from a good cup of joe.

But overall, I pretty much just relegated coffee drinking to Saturday and Sunday. And I LOVED drinking my coffee on the weekends. Truth is, if it were up to me and I didn’t believe that caffeine was ultimately not good for you and that drinking decaffeinated, organic green tea with lemon juice was a thousand times better for you, I’d be slugging down the coffee every morning.

There’s just something about the aroma, the feel of the coffee in your hands, the taste of a freshly ground, nice wholesome bean coffee that’s invigorating, inviting and feels like “home”.  And it really does give me the pick me up that no other drink can in the morning, so I supposed it’s a flavor/habit and feel thing for me.

There’s been debate over whether caffeine is truly physiologically addictive, and I am definitely of the camp that it is. Some of the telltale signs I see in myself after sometimes just drinking it two to three days in a row and then going cold turkey is a massive headache and irritability.

And God forbid that I drink it for five days straight for some reason and then decide to go cold turkey.  Then you’re really talking trouble. It’s funny because the headache starts to rage right around the same time every day at work when I experience the caffeine withdrawal, about ten a.m or so, so I’m not sure why it happens then.

Maybe my body’s clock knows that by then if I haven’t had my “fix” then it’s not going to get it and it rebels. Who knows!  While there are some good properties of coffee like antioxidants, it’s the stuff I put in it to make it more palatable that worries me, like the cream and sugar.

Also, coffee beans are typically heavily sprayed with insecticides, so it’s heavily recommended that you buy organic when buying coffee, that way you’re not brewing up a toxic brew!

By Natural Advocate | July 12, 2010 - 10:16 am - Posted in Energy Enhancement

Vegetarians are often faced with somewhat of a challenge when looking for complete, good sources of protein, such as the type that can be found in meats and fish.  For example, one of the hardest nutrients to come by that is often found in red meat, which obviously vegetarians don’t eat, is the combination of iron and vitamin B12. B12 is absolutely essential to energy levels, and often those that do not eat meat are hard pressed to find good, readily usable forms of this vitamin in alternative protein sources.

Another complexity of finding protein is to find one that is complete. That is, one that contains all of the essential amino acids. Actually, there is one that I really love the flavor of and happen to eat frequently since being introduced to it a short while ago, and that is quinoa.  It contains all of the essential amino acids, and is therefore an excellent complete source of protein, especially for vegans, who are even more hard pressed to find good sources of protein that are healthful in other ways.

Spirulina, which you have probably heard of before, is actually a blue green algae that partly gets it’s name from it’s spiral structure. It is found not only in fresh water, but also in sea water, and it is thought to carry some beneficial health effects as well, although some of them are argued.

For example, there is supposed to be vitamin B12 in spirulina, but the bioavailability of it is in dispute. This means that even though there may be some amount of this vitamin in spirulina, it may not be used by the body properly and is therefore useless if this is true.

Spirulina does, however, contain a complete source of protein, and for that reason it has been used therapeutically as ways to keep weight on cancer patients as well as a way to get vegetarians and vegans a complete, energy giving source of protein.

Spirulina also may have benefits for those with allergies, as it is thought to have effective prevention effects against allergies.  It is also used as an energy enhancer. I have eaten spirulina in little energy snacks that can be found at health food stores, and I also like to drink it in smoothies that can also be found at health food stores, and it may just be psychosomatic, but I swear I do get a nice energy boost from it.

By Natural Advocate | May 14, 2010 - 5:13 am - Posted in Energy Enhancement

So, there has been a lot of back and forth about both the adverse and the positive health effects of drinking coffee, the number one caffeinated beverage of choice here in the US. It is estimated that over half of the adults here in the US are habitual coffee drinkers. Sheesh, no wonder why there’s a Starbucks around every corner and new coffee shops popping up every day.

Not only that, but how many coffee machines do you see around? I know at my job, there are five coffeemakers just in our downstairs rest area alone. A lot of people can’t even function in the morning until they’ve had their “fuel” – their coffee in the morning. Why is this? Because of the caffeine content. Coffee has plenty of this addictive substance in it, and that is why it gets the bad health rap that it does.

Caffeine really isn’t that great for you when you look at many of the aspects of it, but there are actually some arguments that it may help you in certain ways. However, the health benefits that have been found to be had by coffee are actually not chalked up to the caffeine content, but instead are attributed to other factors of nutritional substances that are found within the coffee bean.

Some of the drawbacks of the caffeine aspect of coffee are that it can cause nervousness, heart palpitations, and sleeplessness. Some studies even say that it can contribute to anxiety. I’d believe that, because I think I’ve actually experienced all three of those side effects myself.

What scientists are finding though, is that coffee drinkers, who drink several cups of coffee a day are definitely exhibiting some health benefits that non coffee drinkers are not. One study shows that men who drink coffee every day (several cups) showed less signs of dementia and alzheimers in their older years. Another showed that women who were habitual coffee drinkers had less risk of several health issues like heart disease and cancers.

They think that all of these health benefits either haves something to do with the antioxidant values in the coffee, which contains lots of polyphenols, or they may also have something to do with other lifestyle habits that coffee drinkers tend to have. Coffee does have antioxidants in it, and if you are someone that drinks it often, you are getting a steady dose all day long, which helps you maintain those antioxidant levels all day long, and your body reaps the benefits all day.


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