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Coffee is not just a lifestyle, it’s a lifesaver

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Every morning, I wake up, and the first task on my mind is to brew a hot cup of coffee to get my day started. Coffee is indeed a lifesaving delicacy. It’s no wonder why you see the big line at Starbucks extending past the doorway at 8 AM every morning! It’s even crazier in New York, where the population in a single location drinks seven times more coffee than the rest of the U.S.  

All things have to come in moderation. Here’s a list of the benefits of drinking coffee:

  • Reduces depression and risk of suicide
  • Less risk of heart disease
  • Black coffee prevents cavities by killing bacteria
  • Contains more antioxidants than certain servings of fruits
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Lower risk of Type II diabetes
  • Plus…the taste itself is pretty good.

Keep in mind the number of servings. It’s not wise to go out and drink 5-7 cups a day because you’re exhausted. We may not be mindful that it is an overdose of caffeine intake. Thus, having a cup a day or in moderation can still be beneficial. It’s fine to incorporate coffee into a healthy diet, but may not be beneficial for everyone.

Pregnant women and children are not recommended to drink coffee as it may interrupt with their long-term health. It also depends on genetics and how well your body is able to metabolize the caffeine intake. Some of us may feel jittery up to 9 hours, but others may feel a slight increase in alertness for a few hours. 

Comment below what your favorite coffee recipe or recommendations you may have!

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Lifestyle

Cold Showers Can Improve Your Health

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A cold shower is undeniably uncomfortable and deviates from the traditional way of showering. But did you know that it could be one of the healthiest changes that you make in your life?

In a recent study conducted by Geert A. Buijze and a number of his colleagues, 3000 volunteers in the Netherlands were asked to finish the end of their morning shower with a 30, 60 or 90-second blast of cold water. When this was completed for 30 days, there were overwhelming results when it came to the overall health of participants that were dousing themselves with cold water for the more prolonged period. The participants that had longer exposure to cold water had 29% fewer days where they were sick throughout the study. Therefore, cold showers can lead to fewer sick days and a greater sense of overall health.

In addition, participants that engage in regular physical exercise also experienced a 54% decrease in sick days. Cold showers can make us less sick because it can make us feel more energetic. Just a short dousing of cold water is often all we need to deliver an autonomous response from our body that brings our core temperature up and keeps us more alert. This triggers the body to produce a fight or flight response, which can often result in brief hormonal changes and causes us to feel less relaxed. This often leads to the ability to push through sickness and keeps our energy intact throughout the day.

As well as improving overall health and reducing the number of sick days as proven in this scientific study, cold showers have these benefits as well:

  • Improved Alertness: A cold shower will enhance your alertness throughout the day and stimulate your breathing. This can help to decrease levels of carbon dioxide  throughout the body and improve concentration through the day.
  • Reduction in Stress: Since a cold shower will place a small amount of stress on your body,  this can lead to a process which is called hardening. Your nervous system will be able to handle more moderate levels of stress gradually and this can help you find yourself keeping a cool head in stressful situations.
  • Enhanced Immune Response: Regularly exposing your body to cold water can improve the number of white blood cells you have in your body. The immune response can protect you against diseases and deliver an ongoing benefit in the lesser sick days.
  • Increased Weight Loss: Exposure to cold showers can improve our metabolic rate, and this stimulates the generation of brown fat. This will help us to quickly burn calories and assist with any weight loss efforts you may be taking on too.

Even though taking cold showers may seem daunting, its benefits are promising and can help restructure your health. Let us know in the comments section if you have tried taking cold showers or if you have noticed a difference in your health.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/
  2. https://hbr.org/2018/03/cold-showers-lead-to-fewer-sick-days
  3. https://www.fastcompany.com/3043767/the-scientific-case-for-cold-showers

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Fitness/ Diet

What You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal

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Activated charcoal has taken the modern-day food industry abuzz not just for its mystery and intrigue but also for its health benefits. Did you know it is found in the most ubiquitous foods such as ice cream, donuts, and coffee? Although activated charcoal is starting to become popular, it was widely utilized as a popular product in natural healing around the world. It was used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for generations, and there are recorded uses of activated charcoal that date back to 1550 BC.

What Does Activated Charcoal Look Like and How is it Made?

In terms of its looks, activated charcoal usually comes in the form of black powder. It is usually produced by burning a substance without oxygen that builds a deep char. The substances can include anything from bamboo to coconut shell charcoal. When synthesized in the lab, the char is heated to a high temperature and exposed to various gases to activate the charcoal.  This leads to a porous end product that is safe for consumption.  Once the activated charcoal has been activated, it can bind to a substance and eventually gets absorbed. Activated charcoal is tasteless, odorless and completely non-toxic.

What are Some of Its Health Benefits?

  • Removing Poison and Toxins: Activated charcoal is considered one of the most effective G.I. tract decontaminants on the market. It can quickly absorb 50-60% of unwanted elements that are found in the intestines and the stomach; in fact, these absorption effects can last for up to 2 hours. The positive effects of activated charcoal can continue to last up to two hours after it’s ingested. Many emergency rooms regularly use activated charcoal for handling certain types of poison. Charcoal can bind to and remove substances even after they enter the bloodstream.
  • Oral health: Activated charcoal can be particularly powerful at removing materials from the digestive system and your teeth. It doesn’t directly neutralize toxins, but it can bind to them and quickly remove harmful substances from your mouth. Activated charcoal can quickly remove stains from the teeth and whiten teeth in just a few uses.
  • Skincare: Activated charcoal also has many uses in beauty products. It’s commonly found in many facial scrubs and it’s widely effective at removing chemicals, dirt, and bacteria that can often build up along your skin. Regularly treating your skin with activated charcoal can be an excellent anti-aging solution. It will regularly remove toxins that can make you age faster.
  • Regulating Cholesterol Levels: Activated charcoal can work to remove bad cholesterol and increase the incidence of good cholesterol just as you would receive from any prescription medication.
  • Reduces Bloating: It can be extremely beneficial in removing gas caused by byproducts in food items. Taking 500 mg of activated charcoal can help to reduce bloating and gas regularly after a meal that contains these items.

Is Activated Charcoal Safe?

Activated charcoal is non-toxic; however, if you have any health risks, you should consult your primary care physician before internal use.

Sources:

  1. https://wellnessmama.com/247/activated-charcoal/
  2. https://www.homeremediesnaturalcures.com/2018/11/25/activated-charcoal-can-be-used-to-remove-years-of-toxins-poisons-and-mold-buildup-in-your-body/

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Interviews and Stories

Meet Jody Margolis M.S., R.D.

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Jody Margolis is a registered dietician at the University of California, Irvine who is passionate about health, wellness, and food. She has been working in the field of nutrition for over 20 years and strives to educate college students on weight management, wellness, nutrition, and meal prep techniques. Here is the interview that Margolis did with Word of Health in which she discusses her profession, influences, and beliefs about the field of nutrition.

  1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and why you are interested in the field of nutrition?
    • I was a biology major at UC San Diego on the pre-med track. I took a nutrition course in the biology department and fell in love with that subject. I decided to investigate the field of nutrition and shadowed a registered dietician. After UCSD, I went on to get my Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Metabolism. Growing up I was a dancer; I was always conscientious of what I put into my body. Healthy eating and general wellness was always important to me, and learning how nutrition impacts so much of our physical and mental health made nutrition a match. I knew I wanted to be a healthcare provider, but nutrition is what really aligned with my passions.
  2. What are your past work experiences and how did you get into dietetics?
    • I went to Boston University to get my graduate degree and did my internship that is required to be a dietician. I then worked on the clinical side in a hospital, and I loved being in that hospital setting. When I moved back to California, I moved to outpatient community setting, and I worked as a specialist in HIV medicine for 8 to 10 years. At the time, the AIDS epidemic was really bad, and doctors had not discovered medications that are as effective as they are today.  I worked in side-effect management, as these medications caused a lot of gastrointestinal side effects. A lot of people had wasting syndrome and lost quite a bit of muscle mass and body fat. I helped provide education on basic food safety and the importance of food nutrition throughout the HIV disease process. I then decided to make a change and moved over to treat childhood obesity and received a certificate in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management. I then transitioned into adult weight management and now I am in collegiate health.
  3. What is your greatest professional achievement?
    • I have received a Prevention Award from the Irvine Prevention Coalition and last year I was interviewed in OC Parents Magazine. The highlight for me was to spread the message of the importance of a healthy, balanced diet to kids and their families. This is the community I live and work in, and to know that I have an impact within that community is rewarding.
  4. What or who is the greatest influence in your life?
    • My parents always taught me the importance of eating together as a family and preparing fresh homemade food. At the same time, however, I saw people in my life who mattered struggle with being overweight and dealing with heart disease. I always wanted to help them and understand why some people struggle with their weight more than others and their relationship with food.
  5. What is your most and least favorite thing about your job?
    • My favorite thing about my job is being able to connect with people and feel like you have helped them to learn about their relationship with food and how they can improve their eating habits to make them feel better. The biggest challenge is that sometimes you can put tools in someone’s toolbox and they are just not quite ready to use them. I can educate and motivate them but sometimes they are just not in a place of readiness to make the change. And sometimes that is okay. In college, students are alone and learning how to be independent. I want to be an ear to listen to them, and help them with adulthood through cooking and meal-prepping skills. I also educate students about stress eating and disordered eating. I also give them a safe space to talk about depression and anxiety and how it may be affecting their diet and refer them to a therapist. Being that listening ear to students is extremely rewarding.
  6. What is your favorite go-to recipe to share with students?
    • I try to teach students how to make different Chipotle-like bowls at home. It can be the Mexican style bowl, but it can also adapt to different cuisines. For example, you could swap out the beans and Mexican vegetables for tomatoes, cucumber, and hummus to make a Mediterranean style bowl. Or you can do an Asian Buddha bowl and add tofu, edamame, and other spices. It is really about finding where students spend a lot of time and money—at Panda Express and Chipotle. You can make that cheaper and healthier at home. You can change the flavor through the seasoning but keep the key elements the same with meat, legume, grain, and vegetable.
  7. What are your thoughts about health policies regarding nutrition?
    • The US lags behind Europe in specific policies, especially through marketing unhealthy food to children in commercials. We think about Happy Meals or things with high sugars in breakfast cereals. Europe has been much stricter in marketing things that are unhealthy. We have a long way to go in constructing policies to prevent the obesity epidemic.  It is a free society and people want to have choices, but at the same time, our nation has an obesity epidemic, so we need more public health policies to support nutritional health.
  8. What are some misconceptions that patients may have about nutrition/diet in general?
    • It is so important to know that nutrition is evidence-based. Many people get misinformation from the internet, and getting information from a website that is full of testimonials but not backed by science can be harmful and can lead to following fad diets, disordered eating, etc.  I try to teach students where to get the right information. At the same time, I make sure I stay up to date on the latest developments in my field via conferences, webinars, scientific journals, etc.
    • Coconut water and gluten-free products are things that I have seen rise in popularity. For the most part, I remind people that food companies are in business to make money and it is important to be an educated consumer. I also worry about fad diets on the internet, which are not scientifically backed.
  9.  What are your thoughts on nutrition and wellness?
    • Being a more mindful eater is extremely important in terms of thinking about how sustainable a food product is and how it impacts the environment. We can make changes for ourselves, but that can create a ripple effect when that change is made by others.
  10.  What are some of your additional hobbies and how does that connect to your profession?
    • I love to travel, and I have traveled to 5 of the 7 continents. I also love to hike and do yoga. Connecting to nature is how I connect my hobbies to my passion for nutrition, and I think that shows through my cooking, as I try to focus more on plant-based food. With traveling, you learn from new cultures. It exposes you to the differences and similarities in humanity. For so many people, food is a celebration, culture, and traditions. The food might vary, but we all like to honor different moments of our lives in similar ways. It makes you realize that we are not all that different from one another.

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