Thursday, May 29, 2008

Do The New Energy Drinks Really Give You Energy?

Are you feeling a little run down and tired? Don't you wish you had this kind of energy?

Look around at the grocery store or the convenient mart sometime and you will see some new beverages starting to crop up with names like Amp, Battery, Sparks, Blue Charge, Pimp Juice, Liquid Blow, Crunk, Full Throttle, Red Bull, Monster, Bawls, Reload and Rockstar. These are what they call energy drinks. There is really only one problem. They don't really give you any energy. They give you the illusion of energy but, this "boost" — which may last as long as a few hours — typically results from the large amount of sugar and caffeine these drinks contain. (Sugar-free versions of many energy drinks still contain large amounts of caffeine.)

According to a recent article from Reuters News Agency, just one can of the popular stimulant energy drink Red Bull can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The caffeine-loaded beverage, popular with university students and adrenaline sport fans to give them "wings", caused the blood to become sticky, a pre-cursor to cardiovascular problems such as stroke.

"One hour after they drank Red Bull, (their blood systems) were no longer normal. They were abnormal like we would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease," Scott Willoughby, lead researcher from the Cardiovascular Research Center at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, told the Australian newspaper.

The advertising campaigns are really slick. Coca Cola makes a product called Full Throttle and encourages 20-30 year old men to "Let Your Man Out." In order to include women in the marketing mix, "Go Girl" is a sugar free drink that contributes a portion of their proceeds to Breast Cancer research. Over 500 new energy drinks hit the market in 2006. The 3.4 million dollar market for energy drinks is expected to double this year. If you don't know much about them or you just want to know more, watch this review from CBS News.

CBS Energy Drink Review

Some of these energy drinks can contain up to 300 mg. of caffeine, compared with 80 mg for a typical cup of coffee), which can lead to:

Increased anxiety and panic attacks

Increased blood pressure

Bowel irritability


Increased gastric acid

Meanwhile, ingesting 500 mg or more of caffeine (the amount easily ingested in four to eight servings of typical energy drinks) can lead to caffeine intoxication that can cause:





Chest pains

Neurological symptoms



CNN News: School Bans Energy Drink After 18 Students Get Sick

Sparks is a unique beverage in that it combines 87 mg of caffeine and 6-7% alcohol. "Rock Star 21" (not to be confused with regular Rock Star energy drink) also contains 6% alcohol while "Tilt" has 8% and "Joose" has a whopping 9.9%! Before these came out, Red Bull and vodka were very popular with college age students. It might seem good at first glance but you are really mixing an upper and a downer... thats why some people get bad hangovers from this. Sparks has often been consumed on campus in front of faculty who have no idea that it contains alcohol. Just think! If it contained a little nicotine, it would be the perfect "energy drink." It would be like drinking a beer, a cup of coffee and having a cigarette all at the same time! What a concept! If you have an addiction to all of these, it could save you a lot of time.

Seriously, you should never combine alcohol with caffeine. The combination of large amounts of caffeine and alcohol is especially dangerous, since alcohol by itself is known to trigger fast heart rhythms. To avoid this serious health risk — even if you don't have heart disease — you shouldn't combine alcohol with energy drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant. The resulting mix can lead to cardiopulmiary and cardiovascular failure.

Meanwhile, researchers from North Carolina's Wake Forest University revealed that mixing alcohol and energy drinks increases students' risk of harm.

After surveying over 4,000 U.S. students, they found that those who drank alcoholic energy drink cocktails were more likely to:

Suffer injuries

Require medical help

Travel with a drunk driver

Get into trouble over sex

These harmful effects occurred because the energy drinks masked much of the alcohol's intoxicating effects, which allowed students to drink for longer periods.

"Students whose motor skills, visual reaction times, and judgment impaired by alcohol may not perceive that they are intoxicated as readily when they're also ingesting a stimulant," said lead researcher Dr Mary Claire O'Brien. "Only the symptoms of drunkenness are reduced -- but not the drunkenness. They can't tell if they're drunk, they can't tell if someone else is drunk. So they get hurt, or they hurt someone else."

Here are some of the common ingredients in some of these drinks and what affect they can have on your health.

Yellow #5 and 6 - has a tendency to change the color of the tongue and teeth temporarily, after consumption of several of these beverages due to FD&C Yellow No.5.

Sugar - Although the various sugars used to sweeten energy drinks can briefly increase energy, consuming large quantities of sugar is likely to cause weight gain. Sugar can also be addicting and too much sugar in your diet can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

Sucralose - (Also known as Splenda) There have been no independent human tests regarding the long-term safety of this product. That's reason enough to be wary. But there was a study of its effect on rats that was published in the FDA's Federal Register. It showed that rats that were given sucralose experienced shrunken thalamus glands, enlarged livers and kidneys, reduced growth rate, reduced red blood cell count, aborted pregnancies, and diarrhea. Many people dislike it because of the unpleasant aftertaste.

If you ingest Splenda in any amount, I urge you to read firsthand accounts of its harmful effects. There are more than 30 posted on Dr. Mercola's website

Aspartame -
Nutrasweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal-Measure are all synonymous with aspartame. Aspartame is a known neuroexitotoxin. Some people react to aspartame immediately, while others can take 10 to 20 years for the aspartame reaction to become noticeable. Problems attributed to aspartame include:

* anxiety and panic attacks
* problems concentrating and focusing
* loss of memory
* depression or irritability
* dizziness
* headache or migraine pain

Sodium Benzoate (to protect taste) - The reason it protects taste is because it is a preservative that prevents bacteria growth, yeast and fungi. One of the big concerns has been the apparent dangers of it being combined with vitamin C (ascorbic acid). When this happens, it forms a chemical called Benzene which is carcinogenic (causes cancer). Benzene has shown the ability to affect mitochondria and produce cell death.

- is a stimulant, which also can temporarily perk you up. When taken in moderation, the caffeine in coffee has shown the ability to increase athletic performance. A study conducted in 1979 showed a 7% increase in distance cycled over a period of two hours in subjects who consumed caffeine compared to control tests. Other studies attained much more dramatic results; one particular study of trained runners showed a 44% increase in "race-pace" endurance, as well as a 51% increase in cycling endurance, after a dosage of 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. The extensive boost shown in the runners is not an isolated case; additional studies have reported similar effects. Another study found 5.5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body mass resulted in subjects cycling 29% longer during high intensity circuits. But too much caffeine can cause adverse side effects, such as nervousness, irritability, increased blood pressure and insomnia. Caffeine abuse can also make your heart beat faster and trigger abnormal heart rhythms, which is especially dangerous if you have any type of heart disease. While some energy drinks have as much as 300 mg. of caffeine, I would look for one that uses a natural source of caffeine like green tea. Look for a drink that has a lower 80 mg. of caffeine. That is about the same amount as found in a normal cup of coffee.

Guarana Extract
- the guarana fruit is about the same size as the coffee berry but with three times as much caffeine.
Again, be careful of the caffeine content. A little can be beneficial but a lot can be harmful.

Phenylalanine - may be used to reduce chronic pain by stimulating pathways in the brain to control pain. It is also given to people for the treatment of depression as it promotes the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. If you are taking antidepressant medicines already, phenylalanine may cause an increase in blood pressure leading to a stroke or heart attack.

Taurine - Despite its presence in many energy drinks, taurine has not been shown to be energy-giving. Taurine does alleviate muscle fatigue in strenuous workouts and raises exercise capacity. Taurine has also been shown in diabetic rats to decrease weight and decrease blood sugar.

In some of the more health conscious energy drinks, you might find the following ingredients:

B Vitamins - increases the rate of metabolism and fights the symptoms and causes of stress and depression. Niacin (vitamin B3) is involved in the biological process of producing energy.

Rhodiola rosea (Golden Root, Roseroot) is a plant that grows in cold regions of the world. It may be effective for improving mood and alleviating depression. Pilot studies on human subjects showed that it improves physical and mental performance as well as reducing fatigue.

Ginseng Extract - is widely used to lower cholesterol, increase energy and endurance, reduce fatique and effects of stress and prevent infections. The roots of Asian and American ginseng contain several saponins named ginsenosides that are believed to contribute to the adaptogenic properties. They are used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve stamina and combat fatigue and stress. Saponins are interesting natural compounds found in many plants, herbs, roots, and beans. Saponins have potential in the prevention and treatment of diseases of the heart and circulatory system. For instance, they inhibit the formation of lipid peroxides (fat oxidation) in cardiac muscle or in the liver, they influence the function of enzymes contained in them, they decrease blood coagulation, cholesterol, and sugar levels in blood, and they stimulate the immune system.

L-Carnitine - boosts energy by stimulating the body's burning of tryglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood) as fuel, and sparing the supply of glycogen stored in the liver for heavier exertion. During exercise, the body will burn fat at a rate of 75-80% of maximum exertion, thus less glycogen from carbohydrates is burned. L-carnitine allows the body to burn more fat, save more glycogen, and ultimately boost stamina and endurance. By providing more fat to the muscles, carnitine makes accessible an otherwise unavailable energy source.

Calcium and Magnesium - Calcium is needed for muscle contraction and magnesium for muscle relaxation. They also
play an integral role in the body's energy generation and enzyme production at the cellular level.

D-Ribose - Enhances cardiac energy levels and support cardiovascular metabolism. Ribose has been shown in clinical trials to enhance the recovery of heart muscle ATP levels and improve myocardial function following exercise. Studies suggest that ribose supplementation can increase the tolerability of the cardiovascular system to exercise-induced fatigue.

Cacao Extract - Known to decrease blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity in healthy persons. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Mar;81(3):611-4.

Choline Chloride - Is a member of the B-complex group of water-soluble vitamins (vitamin B-4). Those who do strenuous exercise may drastically reduce their levels of choline. The probable reason for this is the need for choline to metabolize fat. This need increases during exercise. It also works in movement control. Choline chloride is found in concentrations in the tissues of the nervous system.

Coenzyme Q10 - is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is found in virtually all cell membranes. CoQ10's key role is in producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), needed for energy production in every cell of the body. Secondary to that, CoQ10 functions as a powerful antioxidant.

Biotin - Helps us use carbohydrate, fat, and protein to produce the energy that allows us to stay alive.

An Energy Drink Alternative
Why not energize with something that is good for you? Developed by USANA’S nutrition experts, Rev3 Energy is a superior alternative to crash-and-burn energy drinks.

You can experience the energy of Rev3 in two great-tasting ways—Rev3 Energy drink or Rev3 Energy Surge Pack, perfect for your water bottle.

Rev3 Energy™
  • Cleaner - crisp, all-natural taste
  • Smarter - contains smart sources of caffeine and low-glycemic sugars while providing important vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals
  • Stronger - Complete and proprietary energy complex with the energy-producing ingredient L-Carnitine. Formulated to help improve the body’s response to stress and fatigue.*
Rev3 Energy Surge™ Pack
  • Cleaner - crisp, all-natural taste
  • Smarter - contains natural caffeine from a blend of teas to improve mental alertness and stamina. Teas also provide important antioxidants and phytonutrients known to be beneficial to health and metabolism
  • Stronger - formulated with green tea, Korean ginseng, and rhodiola rosea to improve the body’s response to stress and fatigue.*
Click here to see how Rev3 compares to three other popular energy drinks.

Click here to see what the actual ingredients are and make your own comparison.

If you are looking for some other natural ways to increase your energy, here are three things that will provide you with the all-day the energy you need:

  1. Get plenty of uninterrupted sleep.

  2. Eat low glycemic meals that will not spike your blood sugar.

  3. Exercise at least 20-30 minutes per day (if not longer)
If you are looking for foods that will naturally energize your day, check out the following article"

Eight Healthy & Delicious Foods that Will Provide You a Major Energy Kick

Are Your Vitamins Synthetic Or Natural?

About 40% of Americans popped a vitamin or mineral within the past month. The most common vitamins taken include vitamin C, B12, B6, niacin, thiamin, B2, E, A, D and folic acid. But are they the right kind? For many years, the pharmaceutical companies have produced synthetic vitamins in a laboratory setting. The "Whole Food" supplement industry claims that only natural vitamins from whole food sources will give you the health results your body needs and deserves. They claim that "Natural" vitamins from whole food sources are safer and more effective (absorbable) than a synthetic vitamin made in a lab. To defend their position, they site several vitamin studies that have come out over the last few years that seem to suggest that taking synthetic vitamins could be useless and even life threatening.

Although I would agree that many vitamins that come from a natural source are more superior to a synthetic source, I will not get into the flawed science of these studies today. I have covered this before. It is nothing but a regurgitation of the old anti-supplement propaganda. When the “Whole Foods” multivitamin companies use these studies as a proof that all synthetic vitamins are bad, they show themselves to be intellectually and professionally irresponsible. They prove no such thing. Here are a few links that might explain what I mean.

Vitamins Found To Be Risky And Impotent

Rebuttal to the Recent FLAWED Report that Antioxidants Shorten Lifespan

Vitamin Studies: Rebuttal to Allegation That Certain Vitamins May Shorten Lifespan

Many of these studies used synthetic forms of vitamin E that are petroleum-derived products or they used dosages that were 100 times higher than the safe upper limits would allow. In some cases, they used dosages that were way under the amount that would be therapeutic for their condition. Would you take a tenth of an aspirin for a headache? How about 100 aspirins at one time? If you drink to much or not enough water, it could kill you too.

But what about multivitamins? Can I trust them to be balanced and safe? According to the following report from MSNBC, Consumer Labs studied 21 products and found that only 10 met
the stated claims on their labels or satisfied other quality standards. Two contained high amounts of LEAD and one (for children) contained a dangerous amount of vitamin A.

Synthetic Vitamins vs. Whole Food Supplements

Some claim that synthetic vitamins are the problem and encourage you to trade your synthetic vitamins in for whole food supplements which they claim are safer and more effective. I have noticed at least a dozen different companies that are marketing a "natural" whole food supplement in the last year. My chiropractor believes that vitamins should come from natural sources. Synthetic vitamins do not absorb well into the body and can sometimes do more harm than good. He claims that 90% of all synthetic vitamins are not absorbed and that they go down the toilet. He recommends an all-natural vitamin that is made from real fruits and vegetables. He sells it in his office. I read over the literature that he gave me and did a little research on my own. Let me ask you a question. Which one of the following three pictures looks "natural" to you?

The vitamin that my chiropractor was selling had a vegetable based pill and a fruit based pill with several fruits and vegetables packed into a tiny pill.
The American Society for Nutritional Sciences published a study of this vitamin in the Journal of Nutrition five years ago. The vegetable blend for the vitamin was made of carrot, broccoli, spinach, tomato juice extract and kale leaf powder, which contain a variety of carotenoids.The claim was that it lowered your chances of getting a heart attack through the lowering of plasma homocysteine in men.

In a response to that study, two German scientists observed that the vitamin was fortified with ß-carotene, ascorbic acid, vitamin E and
folic acid. After testing the plasma levels of test subjects, they found a significant increase in ß-carotene but the other carotenoids levels like plasma lycopene and lutein+zeaxanthin did not change at all. They suggested that the dried vegetables in the vitamin had carotenoids that were either not bioavailable (not well absorbed) or that there were none in there in the first place. In other tests, subjects who ate real vegetables saw a rise in plasma levels of the carotenoids missing in the vitamin takers (source: Fruit and Vegetable Concentrate or Vitamin Supplement?).

A whole food supplement sounds like a good idea in theory. Eating more organic fruits and vegetables is certainly the way to go but sounds questionable when put in the form of a pill. What happens to the fruits and vegetables that are dehydrated and ground into a powder form? Remember, fruits and vegetables contain some vitamins but are not pure vitamins. You would have to eat 7-10 oranges to get 500 mg. of natural vitamin C. You would have to eat 33 pounds of spinach or drink a whole quart of canola oil to get a therapeutic level (400 mg) of natural vitamin E. How do you fit that in a few tiny little pills?

Fiber Reduces Heart Disease
What happens to the fiber? According to the American Heart Association, it is the fiber in our diet that contributes to lower incidence of heart disease. The whole food supplements are devoid of most or all of the fiber they once contained. They take all of the water and fiber out so that they can fit it into the pill form. People who don't get enough fiber in their diet pop a few veggie or fruit pills thinking this will make up for their lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. This becomes their excuse for not eating and lulls them into a false sense of security. Less fiber in your diet has been linked to more obesity, higher blood pressure and cholesterol. How much fiber should you be eating per day? Click here to access a fiber calculator that will tell you how much you need personally. Remember, the average American eats about 14 grams of fiber per day. That's way below what is considered healthy.

Taking Whole Food Supplements is not the same as eating whole foods.

When preparing a whole food (fruit or vegetable) for use in supplements, the water must be removed by either spray or freeze drying the food. The amount of food left is usually within a ratio range of 10:1 and 5:1. In other words if you had a supplement containing say 500mg of a particular freeze dried whole food then that would be equal to between 2.5 – 5 grams of the real fruit or vegetable. Consider that in relation to an average sized banana (which weighs approximately 125 grams). So, our 500 mg supplement provides the gross weight and nutritional value of only about 1/25th to 1/50th of a banana! That's one TINY bite of the Banana. It also means you'd have to swallow 25 to 50 (500 mg) supplements just to equal one average banana!

Fruits and Vegetable Have Declining Nutrients

Of the 13 major nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, six have declined substantially over the last fifty years, according to a study by Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas at Austin.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Davis concludes that recently grown crops have shown decreases of up to 38 percent in protein, calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus, iron and riboflavin when compared with produce from past decades. According to the Journal Of The American Medical Association, "low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E, and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases. Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements."

Because of our depleted soils, green harvesting, cold storage, processing, and food preparation methods, our foods have a significant decrease in nutritional value. This is certainly true of the micronutrients, especially the antioxidants.

So, if the vitamin content of fruits and vegetables is dramatically declining, what are you getting in a whole food supplement? Maybe a better question is, what are you not getting?

What is in a Whole Food Supplement?

I looked at the ingredients of a popular new whole food supplement. They have a veggie and a fruit supplement. Here is what I found. The veggie supplement contains broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, celery, asparagus, bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, tomato, spirulina, dunaliella, chlorella, cilantro, parsley, milk thistle, aloe vera gel, vitamin A as beta carotene plus mixed carotenoids, real vitamin C from camu-camu, alpha lipoic acid, green tea extract, grape seed extract, barley leaf, acidophilus and bifudus, inulin fiber, Bioperine, ginger, clove, garlic, lycopene, lutein and Indole 3 carbinol. The fruit supplement contains wolfberry , blueberry, bilberry, elderberry, cranberry, strawberrry, camu camu, noni, orange, lemon and lemon peel, lime, tangerine, grapefruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, grape, cherry, apricot, apple, pear, watermelon, tumeric root, cayenne, cinnamon, malodextrin, vitamin B12, Dulse, coral powder and several other ingredients that are also found in the veggie supplement.

It sounds great! What is in the supplement does not bother me. It is what I don't see, that concerns me. How much wolfberry is actually in each pill? How much of anything is in each pill? Why won't they disclose this? If I want to compare how much vitamin C is in there compared to another vitamin, how would I go about that? If I want to compare anything to that vitamin, it would be very hard without knowing how much of anything is really in there.

According to the literature, they claim that it is not about the quantity. It is about the balance of cofactors and the synergy between all of the ingredients. Vitamin C is better absorbed when it's cofactors of bioflavonoids are present. According to them, "less is more."Unfortunately, they will not independently verify the ingredients and the vitamin potency of those ingredients. The marketing is energetic but the science is weak.

According to the
Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, synergy of all the vitamins and cofactors are also important. So is quantitiy and quality. The conclusion of the author and biochemist, Lyle MacWilliam and 13 other nutritional experts (whose opinion are noted in the book) is that vitamins work best when they are in balance with each other and in balance with their cofactors. While many vitamins (A, C, E) are best in their natural forms, some vitamins are more readily absorbed and more efficient in their synthetic form.

Are Synthetic Vitamins Poorly Absorbed?

According to a recent advertisement for a whole food multi, 90% of all synthetic vitamins are not absorbed. They just make "expensive pee." Again, this is an intellectually irresponsible statement that makes a distortion of the truth.

A multivitamin might be made up of 40-100 different ingredients. Some are more absorbable than others. Calcium, for instance is poorly absorbed (~25-35%), no matter what form it is in
- and for good reason, to prevent dangerous "calcium intoxication." The idea that any calcium is 100 percent absorbed by the body is ridiculous and if true, would be potentially hazardous. Coral calcium is a form of calcium that has been touted as a superior form of calcium because it is natural. It is nothing but the dead remains of a coral reef that has washed up on some beach. It is made up of calcium carbonate and is the same thing as the calcium carbonate in found in "synthetic" vitamins. It does not absorb any better than the "synthetic" form.

There are many factors that can affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body. Some of these factors are a function of the person taking the nutrient and are dependent on the age of the person, the integrity of their digestive system, the state of their health, the time of day, the person's gender, and if the supplements were taken on a full or empty stomach. People whose nutrient needs are greater - such as growing children, pregnant or lactating women, and those who are currently deficient - may have significantly enhanced absorption rates for certain nutrients.

Boron, molybdenum, and iodine can be absorbed at over 90 percent, while the average absorption rates of zinc, copper, and selenium can range from 30 to 80 percent depending on the form.

Asking The Wrong Question

Assuming that all synthetic vitamins are bad and all vitamins derived from whole foods are good is not wholly accurate and misses the point. There is a common misconception that "natural" vitamins and minerals are extracted from plants in their pure form, and as such, are superior to "synthetic" vitamins and minerals which are made in a laboratory. This is a very misleading distinction.

First, it is not possible to extract pure vitamins from plants without considerable and significant chemical processing. Dehydrating and grinding the plants into powder is a form off processing too. Some of the natural qualities of fruits and vegetables are lost in such a process.

Next, the biological activity of a compound has nothing to do with its source but is determined by its chemical structure. In other words, it makes no difference whether the chemical originates from a leafy plant or a test tube - it is the same compound, regardless. Some (not all) vitamin and antioxidant compounds can be efficiently synthesized in laboratories to produce products that are identical in chemical form to those found in nature, and that are totally pure and totally safe (and oftentimes much less expensive than their "natural" counterparts).

In addition, some synthetic vitamins are preferentially absorbed over food sources. One good example is folic acid, which is preferentially absorbed and utilized over natural food folates that must go through several conversion processes to be utilized as folic acid.

Vitamins should not be chosen based on whether they are "natural" or "synthetic." Ingredients should be chosen based primarily on their effectiveness, bioavailability, purity, and safety.

When choosing a vitamin supplement (natural, synthetic or a combination), choose one that is

  1. A pharmaceutical-grade product. Most vitamins are manufactured on a food-grade level. The difference between the two are like the difference between how pizza and penicillin are produced. When you make a pizza, it doesn't matter how many or how much of any one ingredient you put on there. You don't have to be that exact with pizza. If a rat hair gets in there, no one will know. Penicillin, on the other hand has to be exact and pure. Every pill must have the EXACT amounts with no other traces of anything else in there. Vitamins that are manufactured at a pharmaceutical-grade level should insure the potency, safety and purity of their product. What is on the label should be guaranteed to be in the bottle.
  2. Certified by an independent lab. Vitamins are not regulated by the FDA, so there is no way you can know if there are contaminants (lead, steroid, pharmaceuticals) in the product without having it certified by an independent lab like the NSF, Consumer Lab, Natural Products Association (NPA), True-Label Program, USP Dietary Supplements Verification Program, NHPD (Canada's version of FDA), Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA - Australia's version of the FDA) and Independent ISO 17025 verification.
  3. Rated Highly in the Comparative Guide To Nutritional Supplements . If you are from the United States or Canada, watch the first movie clip about the Comparative Guide to find the top rated supplements. If you are from Australia or New Zealand, watch the second clip about the Comparative guide and the top supplements in your country.

    U.S and Canada

    NutriSearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements

    Australia and New Zealand

Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, Australia-New Zealand Edition

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Can Coffee Be Good For You?

I dropped by my local coffee shop last week to get a fresh cup of joe. The sign above the counter said, "Any unaccompanied children will be given a large cup of expresso and a free puppy!" I'm sure that has struck fear in many a parents heart. The effects of caffeine can last up to ten hours. Yikes!

I've always been told that coffee and caffeine were bad for me. Now there is news that, taken in moderation, it could have a lot of health benefits.
At least six research reports show that people who drink coffee are up to 80 percent less likely (men not women) to develop Parkinson's, have a 25 percent drop in their risk for colon cancer, an 80 percent drop in their risk for liver cirrhosis, and an almost 50 percent lower risk for gallstones.

Other studies find that coffee could help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, gout and heart disease.

Click on the following link to watch a news clip from CBS about the health benefits of coffee.

CBS NEWS - Study: Coffee May Help One Live Longer

When taken in moderation, the caffeine in coffee has shown the ability to increase athletic performance. A study conducted in 1979 showed a 7% increase in distance cycled over a period of two hours in subjects who consumed caffeine compared to control tests.
Other studies attained much more dramatic results; one particular study of trained runners showed a 44% increase in "race-pace" endurance, as well as a 51% increase in cycling endurance, after a dosage of 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. The extensive boost shown in the runners is not an isolated case; additional studies have reported similar effects. Another study found 5.5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body mass resulted in subjects cycling 29% longer during high intensity circuits.

And the controversial information on coffee and diabetes is still in great debate. Some research indicates that coffee consumers actually have decreased risk for Type II diabetes (54 percent for men and 30 percent for women)as it may help regulate glucose levels, but because of the increased risks of increased homocyteine and other factors related to heart disease with coffee, many authorities strongly advise diabetics against it.

On the one hand, preliminary findings from a small study suggest that drinking moderate amounts of coffee may put healthy individuals at risk for decreased insulin sensitivity, or an inability to process blood sugar efficiently. Decreased insulin sensitivity is a precursor to diabetes.

Caffeine reduced insulin sensitivity by 15%. The decrease in insulin sensitivity was comparable to the increase in sensitivity produced by taking diabetes drugs.

The caffeine group also had higher blood levels of free fatty acids than their peers in the comparison group, the report indicates.

Caffeine's ability to decrease insulin sensitivity could occur because the drug boosts levels of free fatty acids, as well as the hormone epinephrine. The caffeine group exhibited a five-fold increase in blood levels of the hormone.

On the other hand, a systematic review that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association seems to indicate that coffee consumption by 193,473 participants from several studies actually lowered the chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

One of the huge benefits of coffee is that it contains a great deal of antioxidants that help control the cell damage that can contribute to the development of the disease and inflammation. A typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than typical servings of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries and oranges.

Consumption of coffee is associated with reduced risk of death attributed to inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases in the Iowa Women's Health Study

A 2002 study at Duke University
found that even if people don't consume caffeine after 1pm, the effects remain until they go to sleep. That's because caffeine takes a long time to deteriorate in the body - twelve hours after consumption, the body still contains one-eighth of the original amount of caffeine. With regular consumption, these long-lasting effects could increase the risk of heart disease.

In the study, 47 regular coffee drinkers consumed 500 milligrams of caffeine - about the same as four 8 ounce cups of coffee -- in the form of two pills, and no later than 1pm. They took these active pills one workday, and inactive pills the next day, never knowing which type of pill they were consuming. The researchers monitored their blood pressure, heart rate, and quality of specific substances in their urine.

The subjects showed higher stress levels on days they consumed the caffeine pills, and produced 32% more epinephrine, a stress hormone. They also had slightly higher blood pressure with the caffeine pills.

Is Coffee Good For You?

Before you stock up on coffee, keep in mind that unless you drink it black, you could be drinking a lot of extra sugar with your cup of joe. And watch out for "mega-coffees" that pack in extra caffeine. Starbucks coffees always seem to have a lot more flavor as well as more caffeine.

One more word of advice: Don't drink coffee after about 4:00 in the afternoon. The caffeine stays in your system for a long time and can interfere with the length and quality of your sleep.

Do you ever wake up in the morning and you cannot start your day without a cup of coffee? Do you get headaches if you don't get some? Are you dependent on caffeine to function throughout your day? Are you addicted? There is nothing wrong with a little caffeine now and then but it can become addictive and destructive. Some of the signs of caffeine abuse are
nervousness, irritability, anxiety, tremulousness, muscle twitching (hyperreflexia), insomnia, headaches, respiratory alkalosis and heart palpitations.

Do you have a rough time getting to sleep at night? Do you have a rough time getting up in the morning? Your body may not be producing enough cortisol due to caffeine drug abuse. Your adrenal glands are exhausted from being over stimulated. Watch this short clip about how caffeine can destroy your health.

If you try to stop drinking coffee "cold turkey" you will likely experience symptoms of withdrawal that can include severe headache, fatigue and depression. This can be avoided by cutting down the amount you drink gradually over a period of days or even weeks. It's also important to drink plenty of water during the process in order to keep your body well hydrated.

If you find that you miss your morning coffee-drinking ritual, replace it with a new tradition that will also boost your health and energy. Vegetable juice makes a great coffee replacement.
Furthermore, because caffeine increases the production of stomach acid, high usage over time can lead to peptic ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

A study done on coffee drinkers in Finland
showed that people who drink many cups of coffee every day appear to be at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Those who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, compared with people who drank less coffee. Most of them drank boiled coffee that was not filtered. That may have made the difference. I don't know. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2000;59;631-635. The Iowa Womens Health study came to the same conclusion using decaf coffee.

Unless your coffee is organic, you might be drinking some things that you might not like. Since most coffees are not grown in the United States, they contain a great deal of toxic pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers.

I drink about five or six cups per week as well as drinking juices and green teas. I am highly aware of the addictive qualities of coffee and caffeine. That is why I limit my intake to small amounts. Caffeine is one of the most abused drugs on the planet. I was addicted once and it took me a while to get free. I just don't want to go there again. I like coffee now and then and I like the health benefits it gives me but, like most things, it needs to be taken in moderation and with care.

I have found a way to brew a healthier cup of coffee. It is called the Toddy Cold Brew Systemand it uses cold water to make 48 oz. of concentrated coffee.
You simply take a pound of coffee and put it in the brewing container. It has a filter and a cork in the bottom. Then you put 9 cups of cold water in and wait 12-18 hours. It's kind of like sun tea in that it contains 67% less acid and slightly less caffeine than regular coffee. Since there is no heat involved, there is less oils released from the beans too. It keeps for a week in your fridge or for longer if you freeze it in your ice cube tray or several small containers. When you want a cup of smooth coffee, you simply put in one part concentrate to three parts water. If you like stronger tasting coffee, add less water. Heat it on the stove or microwave.
You can pick one up at Gloria Jeans Coffee Beans or Seattle' Best Coffee in Borders Bookstore.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Winning The War On Cancer. For Real, This Time.

I watched intently last night as Elizabeth Edwards, Lance Armstrong (cancer survivor) and entrepreneur Steve Case appeared before Congress to give testimony about renewing the war on cancer. All three of them urged our government to make a new plan to deal with cancer on a more comprehensive basis. Over 560,000 people died from cancer last year alone.

Evidently, the war on Cancer has been going on since 1971 when president Nixon first declared it. That's 37 years! Let's take a look at a few other wars that we have been in. Here are the total American casualties from our last six wars.

Iraq war – 4000+ and counting

Vietnam war - It lasted 9 years from 1964 to 1975.

  • 90,209 Americans were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served.

  • During the Vietnam War the national debt increased by $146 billion (1967-1973). Adjusted for inflation, the debt in 1992 dollars was $500 billion. If you adjusted for inflation for 2008, the number would be much higher.

The Korean war lasted for three years between 1950 and 1953

  • 36,940 died in theater during the war

  • 54,246 deaths from all causes

World War II lasted 6 years from 1939 to 1945

  • From 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 in Europe the Allies had 200,000 dead and 550,000 wounded

  • Total U.S. Casualties came to 405,399

World war 1 = 116,516
Civil War= 498,332

Total wars = 1.2 million

If at least 500,000 people have died from cancer every year (for the last three years), that would equal 1.5 million people. More people than have died in our last six wars combined!

Our government has spent over 1.3 trillion dollars on the war on cancer in the last 37 years and over 800 million on the war in Iraq in the last few years. It is interesting to hear the politicians rant and rave about the failed policies in Iraq. What about the failed policies in the war on cancer?

If you listen to the propaganda from the cancer establishment, you would think that we are winning the war on cancer. They report that survival rates are increasing and cancer is more treatable than ever before. According to Dr. Ralph Moss, nothing could be further from the truth. He writes two articles that expose the shell game that we have been fed.

Three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies and statistics.


Here is an excerpt from one of these articles:

The US News article further claims that "nearly 10 million Americans are living with cancer. Most were diagnosed five or more years ago; many who would have died just 15 or 20 years ago are alive today.." This is highly misleading. As the Fortune article showed, it is METASTATIC cancer that kills the great majority of those who die, and for the most common forms of the disease (such as cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate) metastasis is still the relentless killer it always was. There has been virtually NO change in the survival from metastatic cancer over the last 50 years. The apparent improvement in the survival figures has mainly been due to the earlier detection of illness: people appear to be living longer, whereas in fact what has often happened is that they have received a diagnosis earlier, and have been officially on record for longer before metastasis overtakes them. In other words, many of them are the beneficiaries of a statistical artifact.

Sophisticated screening and early detection tests have also succeeded in finding many patients who have conditions that are not life-threatening (for example, some very early precancerous or encapsulated lesions of the breast or prostate). These people are often labeled as cancer patients, thereby weighting the statistics to make it appear that people with cancer are living longer overall. But many if not most of these people would not have died of cancer even if their tumors had not been detected. Of course, none of these statistical irregularities is a secret to the biostatisticians who are the gatekeepers of data analysis in the cancer field. But these are not the sort of facts that it is considered wise to share with the general public, upon whose generosity vast enterprises such as the American Cancer Society depend.

According to an article in Fortune magazine, author Clifton Leaf explains “Why We Are Losing The War On Cancer.”

Leaf gives some facts about cancer that are well known to insiders but will come as a shock to many readers:

--More Americans will die of cancer in the next 14 months than have died from every war that the US has fought combined.

--Cancer is about to replace heart disease as the number one US killer. It is already the biggest killer in many age groups.

--Even adjusting for age, the percentage of Americans dying from cancer is about the same as it was in 1971 (when Nixon declared the war on cancer) or even back in 1950! Meanwhile, age-adjusted deaths from heart disease have been slashed by 59 percent and from stroke by 69 percent during that same half-century.

--The much-vaunted improvement in survival from cancer is largely a myth. "Survival gains for the more common forms of cancer are measured in additional months of life," says Leaf, "not years."

--Most of the improvement in longevity of cancer patients can be attributed to life style changes (the promotion of which has not been a conspicuous priority for the National Cancer Institute) and especially to early detection.

--The few dramatic breakthroughs (such as in Hodgkin's disease) mainly occurred in the early days of the war on cancer. There has been little substantial progress in recent decades despite nearly ubiquitous claims to the contrary.

--According to one biostatistician at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, long-term survival from common cancers such as prostate, breast, colorectal and lung "has barely budged since the 1970s."

--According to Andy Grove, the chairman of the Intel corporation and a major "player" in funding research, "It's like a Greek tragedy. Everybody plays his individual part to perfection, everybody does what's right by his own life, and the total just doesn't work."

Today, Leaf concludes, the cancer effort is "utterly fragmented - so much so that it's nearly impossible to track down where the money to pay for all this research is coming from." And what money! Leaf estimates that US $14.4 billion is spent each year on cancer research. "When you add it all up, Americans have spent close to $200 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, since 1971." It is certainly justifiable to ask for an accounting of that one-fifth of a trillion dollars.

The Cancer industry and the Pharmaceutical industry have gotten rich off of their cancer treatments and drugs. If a real cure for cancer ever came along, I wonder if they would embrace it or try to bury it? If cancer dropped by 20%, I wonder how much of a hole that would put in their wallet?

It seems to me that there are two things that would go a long way towards finding a cure or at least lowering the incidence of cancer to a significant degree.

  1. Support and fund promising new treatments. As I wrote in another post, there are several new treatments out there that might save hundreds of thousands of lives each year. By funding the research, we could get these treatments to the public in a much more timely manner. I mentioned a few of these at Cancer: Hope For A Cure.

  2. Prevention. Teaching people how to eat in order to lower the chances of cancer is very important. Exercise and supplementation with nutrients that have been shown to have a positive effect on cancer should be part of the curriculum of every grade school and high school. Vitamin D3 could even be the answer to lowering cancer by 60% according to some doctors. Click here to read an article about this from Science Daily.

The last time we as a nation declared war on Cancer, it was a political move by a savvy politician to get more votes. If we have any failed policies on war, it was the 37 year failure to barely make a dent in the progress we need to defeat this foe. Unlike, the Iraq war, we cannot afford to walk away from this one. We need to take it serious this time.

Big Bang - Let The Games Begin

Want to increase your Technorati authority as well as your page rank?
Then join the *Big Bang* movement and add this list to your blog post and post your comment
with your name and the site u want to add to the master list and seat back and watch your technorati authority and your google page rank shoot like a rocket Lol!

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*Start Copy Here*
You do not have to be tagged to play along. This game is simple and so are the rules.

1. Copy from *Start Copy Here* through *End Copy Here*

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3. Tag or don’t tag, your choice, however, the more tags you create the longer the list will grow.

4. Let me know your blog’s name and url by leaving me a comment HERE. I will add you to the master list. (If you would like a scroll box code, leave me your email address and I will email it to you.) Scroll Box Example. (I decided not to use the box for the Big Bang for ease of copying.)

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