Is Caffeine Actually Good For You? [Slidell Memorial Guest Post]

As GreenEyedGuide, I love sharing the science behind common ingredients in energy drinks and other health supplements. In this guest post, Slidell Memorial shares the benefits of getting caffeine from coffee.

As a heart, health, and cancer center that provides several medical services, we at Slidell Memorial Hospital are periodically asked health-oriented questions such as, ‘can caffeine really be good for your body?’ Ultimately, how could this caffeinated, delicious nectar of the heavens be good for you? Aren’t most enjoyable pick-me-ups harmful to us?

Coffee can actually be good for you—but just like everything else; it can only be beneficial in moderation. ‘Moderation’ differs by person, and health issues can vary your ideal coffee intake level. For instance, patients with heart disease that visit our heart center might put extra stress on their hearts if they drink several cups in one day (or a single sitting). Therefore, if you have a health problem, you should consult with your doctor about what your optimal intake levels should be.

7 Ways Coffee Can Benefit You

There are numerous ways in which coffee can aid in balancing your overall health.

  1. Elevates Your Mood

A happy body stems from a happy mind, and coffee is an excellent way to elevate your mood. Several studies have claimed that it can lower depression levels and boost dopamine production… but for some, the mood elevation solely comes from the delectable warm drink and the ‘time out’ that’s taken to relax and enjoy it.

  1. Counters Diabetes

A Harvard study found a connection between the lowering of blood sugar (which can cause Type 2 diabetes in large amounts) and moderate coffee intake. Surprisingly, this is completely irrelevant to caffeine, though, because decaffeinated coffee appeared to have an even larger impact. Researchers accredit this result to the antioxidants that decrease levels of blood sugar.

  1. Provides Antioxidants

Coffee, with or without caffeine, is absolutely packed with antioxidants. These microscopic disease-fighting miracles aid in counteracting the oxidative effects that result in numerous diseases (aside from Type 2 diabetes) such as macular degeneration, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, cancers, and other chronic diseases.

  1. Makes You Live Longer

Another study conducted by the genius minds at Harvard discovered that people who drank between three and five cups a day (this is literally measured in cups—not enormous mugs) “may be less likely to die prematurely from some illnesses than those who don’t drink or drink less coffee.” This is likely to be related to the addition of antioxidants, cardiovascular benefits, and decreasing of blood sugar levels. As a heart center, Slidell Memorial fully understands just how important antioxidant-rich food and drink are, such as coffee.

  1. Protects Your Heart

Drinking a couple of cups per day can avert heart attacks and strokes by bettering endothelial function. This is very important because insufficient endothelial functioning could make you wind up visiting our heart center. It can also help steer you away from heart disease. Although this seems to work better in women than men, both genders are able to lower their risk of heart disease and events with moderate coffee intake (even though green tea works just as well).

  1. Boosts Your Liver

The liver really is underappreciated for the massive role it plays as the hero of the body. The brain and heart receive the majority of the news coverage, but without a healthy liver, you’ll be sure to lack a number of critical functions.

According to recent studies, coffee seems to be hepatoprotective (protective of the liver), but only when filtered. Filtered coffee removes cafestol and kahweol that unfiltered coffee such as espresso, does not (this can lead to fatty liver disease—particularly when mixed with alcohol).

  1. Protects Against Certain Cancers

Let us preface this by stating that coffee does not prevent cancer. Although, it can help protect you from certain kinds by supplying protective functions. Moderate coffee intake has proven in certain studies that it can aid in warding off cancers such as colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and prostate cancer.

All in all, coffee can be healthy, but only if you pace yourself and avoid the extremely sugar drinks.

Now you know—coffee has numerous positive health impacts on the body. However, this is only the case when it’s drunk in moderation. You should also steer clear of candy that’s disguised as coffee because it can be tremendously unhealthy. For instance, a Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbuck’s contains an enormous 40 grams of sugar! Their bottled Dark Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino tops that with a whopping 48 grams of sugar. If you are considering switching to a hot chocolate for your caffeine fix, the white hot chocolate at Starbuck’s is one of their worse sugar-laden offenders—containing a monstrous 62 grams of sugar.

All in all, coffee can be healthy, but only if you pace yourself and avoid the extremely sugar drinks. If you have underlying cardiovascular problems, contact us today to schedule an appointment here at our heart center before you enter a new coffee-laden diet.

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Slidell Memorial Hospital is a 229-bed acute care community hospital located in the heart of Slidell, LA. We provide access to the latest treatments, technology, and expert physicians, including Emergency Room, Cardiac Care, Cancer Center, orthopedic specialists, and Outpatient Rehabilitation, among many others.

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Can Forskolin Help You Reach Your Health/Fitness Goals? (Organic Newsroom Guest Post)

Forskolin has been described with words like “fat-burner”, “ergogenic”, and “testosterone booster”, but how much of this is scientifically correct? As GreenEyedGuide, I love sharing the science behind common ingredients in energy drinks and other health supplements. In this guest post, Organic Newsroom breaks down the food science behind forskolin to help you decide if this supplement is for you.

Forskolin is a curious herbal extract, taken from the roots of a plant known as Coleus Forskohlii. This powerful natural compound has the ability to provide some serious health benefits such as helping in weight loss, promoting good heart health, and even boosting hormones such as testosterone. Celebrities such as Dr. Oz have latched onto this supplement as the latest in their push to market weight loss miracles. While forskolin may not live up to the hype that marketers have surrounded it with, research has shown that it is able to provide some remarkable health benefits.

The Health Benefits of Forskolin

Forskolin is no miracle supplement, but if taken in addition to a healthy diet and exercise it has the potential to help produce some serious results. Research has shown that forskolin has the ability to reduce overall body fat percentages. However, this research was conducted among those already on a weight lifting program; so it’s conceivable that it simply magnifies your body’s natural process of burning fat and building lean muscle. This type of research is where the forskolin hype is rooted and, while not really monumental, was fairly conclusive. Bottom line, if you’re already on a program to build lean muscle, forskolin can help accelerate your progress.

Bottom line, if you’re already on a program to build lean muscle, forskolin can help accelerate your progress.

Additionally, forskolin is able to provide powerful benefits to your heart as well. Doctors have been using a pure forskolin extract for years, administering it via IV to patients suffering cardiac events. In acute cases such as these, forskolin is able to dilate the heart tissue, which allows more blood and oxygen to flow into the heart. On a long-term scale, it boosts your levels of an enzyme called myocardial adenylate cyclase, which promotes overall heart health. Also of note, is research that shows forskolin demonstrating the ability to boost overall testosterone levels by up to 30%! This may be part of the mechanism forskolin uses to help lower overall body fat levels and promote lean muscle growth. Generally speaking, these types of boosts are considered to be within levels that are safe for men and women.

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Side Effects of Forskolin

Generally speaking, forskolin is very safe for general use and very few people report experiencing side effects. One potential pitfall of this compound is it could cause dizziness and unsafe drops in blood pressure for those with low blood pressure issues. Since forskolin works your heart tissues to expand, this is to be expected. For nearly everyone, this side effect would not be an issue. There is also some evidence to suggest that forskolin might affect DNA to some degree—although the study showing that was never replicated. Being that forskolin increases testosterone levels, many wonder if forskolin for women is really a good idea. Your doctor is the only one that can truly give you an answer but, generally speaking, this increase isn’t enough to cause unwanted effects.

One of the most worrisome issues with forskolin is that it is regarded by many people as being a one-stop-fix-all supplement.

One of the most worrisome issues with forskolin is that it is regarded by many people as being a one-stop-fix-all supplement. A lot of personalities such as Dr. Oz have led many to believe that forskolin is capable of providing dramatic weight loss even to those not motivated to change their diets of start an exercise program. While it might seem crazy, many people do believe that by taking a single pill they can lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner. Many people see this type of over-zealous marketing and wonder does forskolin really work at all? The truth is; pure forskolin extract can be a great healthy way to fortify your health, as long as you keep your expectations reasonable. For example, a reasonable forskolin diet plan would be to follow the advice of your nutritionist (or the advice of a nutritionist), and use forskolin as an additional part of your program.

Healthy Balance Above All Else

Forskolin can only ever play a part of your overall diet and exercise program. To ensure you get the most benefit from and pure forskolin extract that you buy, you’ll want to ensure that you purchase from some quality brands. Lots of supplements contain some nasty ingredients, and sometimes don’t even contain the ingredient listed on the label. To learn more about which supplement brands are best, you can read an article we wrote about which brands of vitamins and supplements are the most trustworthy. Simply put, you get what you pay for—and the more expensive brands guarantee maximum potency.

Supplements will only ever be a piece of the puzzle to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Natural compounds such as forskolin can help you fill nutritional gaps, as well as nudge yourself in a positive direction. Supplements have the advantage of working gradually, and therefore presenting much lesser risk of unwanted side effects. Foskolin has demonstrated the ability to help boost hormone levels, lower body fat, and lower the risk of heart disease. While this natural compound may not quite be the ‘miracle’ compound that many make it out to be—pure forskolin certainly has the ability to help balance your health!

Contact: mailto:zack@organicnewsroom.com

 

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The Organic Newsroom publishes articles and product reviews related to healthy and organic products that promote a balanced and organic lifestyle. They are committed to promoting valuable health information, helping to share insights on personal health care, as well as providing in-depth discussions related to fitness and nutrition.

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Energy Drink of the Month — Sept 2016: Six Star Pre-Workout Explosion

Are you setting new resolutions for a new school year, trying to get used to a new schedule, or just trying to get in shape before the holiday season? This month’s pick is dedicated to September, and all the changes it brings.

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The Energy Drink of the Month for September 2016 is Six Star Pre-Workout Explosion.

One serving is one scoop of powder, delivering 135 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. Though this is a dry powder and not a Ready-To-Drink (RTD), we’ll review the Who, What, and When as we do for every Energy Drink of the Month.

 

Who is this for? Target Audience

As it says right on the label, Six Star Pre-workout Explosion is for active men and women, bodybuilders, and strength athletes. But to find out if this product is worth a try, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you workout for more than 20 minutes? Does your workout exceed the intensity where you find it hard to talk normally / find yourself out of breath?
  • Are you more concerned about limiting sugar and calories than avoiding artificial colors and sweeteners?
  • How much caffeine can you handle?

What is in it? Ingredients and Function

The key ingredients in this product include caffeine (duh), beta-alanine, arginine and citrulline, creatine, vitamin C, and vitamin B3 (niacin).

Caffeine is a stimulant, but it also has been shown to increase muscle endurance and athletic performance in reliable scientific studies. Have you seen my YouTube presentation, Caffeine in Workout Supplements and the 5 Levels of Fatigue yet?

Arginine and citrulline are ingredients we’ve reviewed in depth during for the Ingredient Focus series. In general, citrulline and arginine help the body remove biochemical waste, and they help improve blood flow. For more detail, see the Ingredient Focus three-part series on citrulline: What It Is, What It Does, Dosage and Side Effects.

Creatine and beta-alanine are both ingredients intended to help build muscle and increase muscle strength. In both cases, total doses of 3-6 grams per day are needed on a regular basis to have an effect. Beta-alanine has some fascinating studies behind it (nerd alert!), especially since one brand (CarnoSyn) owns the market and has been responsibly proactive about proving this ingredient’s benefits. In general, beta-alanine is claimed to increase muscle strength and power output. However, the specifics on how much one really needs and how exactly this ingredient works is worth further investigation. Beta-alanine will be our Ingredient Focus pick for this month, so stay tuned for that!

Niacin is like the person everyone wants at their party. Did you know that niacin participates in over 200 reactions in the body – most of them used to produce ATP (the chemical form of energy)? Did you know that niacin deficiency symptoms include the three Ds: dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis? Niacin is one of my favorite vitamins to talk about, especially since it disproves the idea you can never have too much of a water-soluble vitamin. It’s a popular vitamin in energy drinks, and yet with a 35 mg dosage, some people experience “niacin flush”.

If you’re a nerd like me and you want to learn more about what niacin does and why its story of discovery and application is so interesting, check out my book “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks – How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”

 

When to take it? 5 Levels of Fatigue

During grad school, when I was doing research on energy drinks and their ingredients, I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue. This system is designed to match the type and potency of caffeinated beverage with one’s true level of fatigue. In short, if you always reach for the strong stuff when you’re bored (not tired), it won’t work when you really truly need it.

This product contains 135 mg caffeine per serving, but the label of this product encourages people to have TWO servings! While the EFSA has ruled that up to 200 mg caffeine is safe to consume in one occasion, TWO servings would be 270 mg caffeine. That’s more than a whole can of Rockstar, more than the EFSA recommends consuming in one sitting, and more than half the safe daily max of 400 mg caffeine per day. According to the 5 Levels of Fatigue, this product is Fatigue Level 4. In short, this Pre-Workout Explosion may be too powerful for some people (and there’s no shame in that!).

While the EFSA has ruled that up to 200 mg caffeine is safe to consume in one occasion, TWO servings would be 270 mg caffeine. That’s more than a whole can of Rockstar, more than the EFSA recommends consuming in one sitting, and more than half the safe daily max of 400 mg caffeine per day.

 

Bottom Line

There’s a good reason Caffeine Informer considers pre-workout supplements one of the 8 Most Dangerous Caffeinated Products.  This is a large dose of caffeine per serving — not larger than what is considered safe in one sitting, but large enough to warrant careful consumption by the user.

I’ve been using this product as my pre-workout for about one month (*individual results may vary*) and I have found I don’t need any other source of caffeine the rest of the day. What helps most is that I add one (non-heaping) scoop to a 20 oz water bottle, and it takes me the full 90 minutes of my morning workout to get through the whole drink. Moderation and pacing are critical to consuming caffeine safely and effectively.

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ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH YEAR IN REVIEW (YEAR 1 AND YEAR 2…year 3 coming soon…)

Explore the CAFFEINE INFORMER database

Visit the Energy Drink Guide Facebook page (Woo-hoo!!! 100 Likes!)
Follow the GreenEyedGuide on Twitter
Follow GreenEyedGuide-the-NPC-Figure-Athlete on Instagram and Tumblr

Get your copy of “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”

Confessions of a Shady Supplement Supplier

After reading a research review on the adulteration of dietary supplements, I was inspired to write a confession. I work for a supplement company that gets complaints for being “too diligent” with our auditing and micro testing requirements, but I’ve seen enough to make me think twice about buying supplements online. If this confession makes you angry, remember this is a fake confession. The bad news is some supplement suppliers are ACTUALLY this negligent. The good news is you can spot the shady ones by asking the right questions…let me demonstrate.
Read more

Happy Caffeine Awareness Month! Top 10 ways to improve your caffeine IQ

March is Caffeine Awareness Month, and what better way to celebrate than to revisit some of the most popular caffeine-related GreenEyedGuide posts! Remember that rebuttal to BroBible’s energy drink article or the open letter to Time magazine? How about the three tips for parents or the two Year-In-Review lists of all the “Energy Drink of the Month” winners? Do you remember what happens when energy drinks dress up like workout supplements?
(Click the title to open the article in a new tab)

ONE – BroBible on Energy Drinks — All the Facts They Got Wrong

BroBible may be have expert insights on some matters, but their article on energy drinks proves biology and food science isn’t in their wheelhouse. Here’s the point-counterpoint to all the misleading statements in their article.

BroBible's misleading infographic on energy drink "science"
BroBible’s misleading infographic on energy drink “science”

TWO – Open Letter to Time regarding energy drink article in “The Answer Issue”

As a food scientist who’s studied energy drinks for over 10 years, Ms Sifferlin’s article came across as yet another “all energy drinks are lethal” story. While the article was missing many crucial facts, there were three points in particular that should be part of the conversation.

energy drink spread

THREE – Caffeine in Workout Supplements and the 5 Levels of Fatigue

This presentation covers the effects of caffeine when it’s consumed before, during, or after a workout. We also review how the Five Levels of Fatigue helps people determine which caffeine products (if any) are right for them.

FOUR – Energy Drinks and the ER — perspective

Energy drinks are in the news again, and this time the story is the reported increase in emergency room visits attributed to energy drinks. Are these stats more indicative of consumer misuse or that energy drinks are inherently more dangerous than other caffeinated beverages? Some clues to consider.

FIVE – Friends with the Monster? 3 Crucial Counterpoints to the Energy Drink Debate

As always, my goal is to educate and inform, to provide an alternate perspective to help people look past confusing scientific jargon and learn the tools to making the best choices for their lifestyle. Caffeine is not always the answer but to find the right answers we must ask the right questions.

SIX – Pop Quiz: Test your Caffeine IQ

Do you know the most common energy drink ingredient? (NO – IT’S NOT CAFFEINE!) Test your caffeine IQ with these 5 questions.

 

SEVEN – Kids and Energy Drinks — 3 Things Every Parent Should Know

How concerned do parents need to be about the use of energy drinks in kids and teens? In the Green-Eyed Guide guest blog on The Scientific Parent, we review the three major details often left out of these conversations on caffeine, and how these details can dramatically boost our efforts to keep ourselves and our kids healthy and safe.

Sci Parent

EIGHT – Caffeine Consumption in the USA

A study published in January 2014 involving over 40,000 people defines beverage caffeine intakes in the US, revealing the amounts of caffeine consumed and from what source per age group. As your Green-Eyed Guide, I’m going to explain what it all means.

Used with permission from Caffeine Informer. Source: Caffeine Safe Limits
Used with permission from Caffeine Informer. Source: Caffeine Safe Limits

NINE – Caffeine Consumption in the USA Part II: The Specifics

What can 42,000 people tell us about the caffeine habits of the US population? Plenty, if you look at the right details. Understanding this information is critical to any conversation about caffeine safety.

TEN – Putting Caffeine in Gum is a BAD IDEA, here’s why…

With new caffeinated foods popping up, the FDA is getting more pressure to reevaluate the safety of caffeine, particularly for adolescents. We evaluate the impact of caffeinated gum and why CANADA has the best caffeine regulations.

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ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH YEAR IN REVIEW (YEAR 1 AND YEAR 2)

Visit the Energy Drink Guide Facebook page (sooo close to 100 Likes!)
Follow the GreenEyedGuide on Twitter
Follow GreenEyedGuide-the-NPC-Figure-Athlete on Instagram and Tumblr

Get your copy of “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”