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How Coffee Affects Your Health

coffee-cup-200-300We seem to hear different things from the medical community every few years about either the positive or negative effect that coffee has on our health. So what is the most current information? Is coffee good or bad for your health? The answer, in short, is that it’s a little of both.

Too much coffee can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure, anxiety and upset stomach, in addition to its ability to become addictive. And don’t forget that added cream and sugar contribute to weight gain. For example, a 24-ounce Starbucks venti double chocolate chip frappucino contains a mind-boggling 520 calories!

Despite these drawbacks, moderate coffee consumption can actually have a protective effect, helping to reduce your risk of many problems, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, liver cancer, gallstones and Type 2 diabetes, to name a few. It can also lower the risk of stroke in women.

Current research has indicated that there is no increased risk of heart disease or cancer from moderate coffee drinking. The studies done earlier that reached that conclusion were flawed in that they did not take into consideration other lifestyle habits that went along with increased coffee drinking, such as smoking and lack of exercise, two major causes of these diseases. In fact, coffee has been shown to protect against many kinds of cancer.

A recent study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that there was a 25 percent reduction in cases of endometrial cancer in women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day. Scientists believe this may be due to the fact that coffee has the ability to lower concentrations of free estradiol and insulin, in addition to the cancer-fighting effect of coffee’s antioxidant phenols.

Even a few cups of coffee every day can cut men’s risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 percent, with those consuming six cups of coffee a day reducing their risk of a dangerous form of the cancer by a whopping 60 percent.

Coffee also reduces your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma by up to 20 percent, according to scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who drink coffee (four cups per day) have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than those who drink no coffee at all.

It is recommended that you get no more than 500-600 mg of caffeine intake per day, the equivalent of about 6 to 8 cups of brewed coffee. Obviously, the amount of caffeine in a cup of espresso will be more than that in the equivalent amount drip coffee.

The key point to keep in mind is to consume coffee in moderate amounts, especially if you are pregnant. But all in all, the benefits of coffee consumption far outweigh the risks for most people, so grab a café grande and drink up!

Nutrition is a very complex and our understanding of it is constantly evolving. If you have questions about your current nutrition or supplement plan, please ask. We are here to help!


What is “Brown Fat” and How is it Different from “White Fat”?

While many of us struggle to keep the amount of fat in our bodies to a minimum, there is one type of fat that we may want to encourage more of.  Brown fat (also called brown adipose tissue) is our friend in that it has the ability to burn calories at a great rate, particularly when it is stimulated by exposure to cold temperatures.

As opposed to white fat, whose purpose is to store calories, brown fat essentially sucks white fat from the body to use for fuel, leading to a reduction in overall body fat.  Researchers are now looking into ways of stimulating the body to replace white fat with brown.

Both human babies and animals are born with a significant amount of brown fat in the body.  In infants it is concentrated around the upper back and trunk area to provide insulation and heat-generating activity to keep an infant warm, as they do not have the ability to shiver to generate heat.  It was originally thought that this type of fat was no longer present in adulthood, but researchers have found residual amounts that are activated when people are exposed to cold and when they exercise.

Interestingly, those who are obese have been shown to have little or no brown fat.  It appears in the greatest amounts in people who are thin, which is perhaps why they are slender in the first place.  Women have more brown fat than men, and young people have more than older people. It can increase the metabolism by up to 80 percent and generates warmth.  The presence of brown fat can be seen around the lower neck, the clavicle and along the spine on a PET scan when the subject is put in a cold room.

Until very recently, researchers did not know what particular mechanism caused the brown fat to be activated.  However, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have discovered a protein that spurs brown fat into action.  Dr. Yuriy Kirichok, associate professor of physiology, and colleagues found that the protein called uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) causes the mitochondria in the cells of brown fat to burn energy and generate heat.  There are more mitochondria in brown fat cells than in the body’s other cells (including white fat cells), so theyf have greater potential for energy burning.

Those who have low levels of brown fat have also been shown to have low bone mineral density.  Dr. Clifford Rosen, professor of medicine at Boston’s Tufts University School of Medicine was shocked by the state of the bones in his mouse study subjects.  “The animals have the worst bone density we have ever seen,” he said. “I see osteoporotic bones all the time, but, oh my God, these are the extreme.”

So brown fat has the possibility of not only aiding in weight loss, but may also aid in maintaining good bone health.  Researchers still have a lot of work to do, but they intend to take what they have discovered about brown fat and develop therapies that may be able to help people generate more of their own brown fat in the future.


Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP.

Dr. Dubois,a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst hispatients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levelswho benefited from his chiropractic care.



Does it Matter Where I Get My Probiotics? Aren’t They All the Same?


Our intestines contain over 400 species of microorganism that help with the digestive process and prevent the growth of harmful pathogens in the bowel. Keeping our internal ecology in order is therefore very important, but a number of factors can upset the balance of organisms such as unhealthy eating, age, illness and certain medications.

Probiotics (also known as good or friendly bacteria) are live microorganisms that are similar to those found in the digestive tract. Examples include bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus (such as L. acidophilus and L. casei) and Bifidobacterium (e.g. B. infantalis and B. animalis). Ingesting probiotics in live yogurt (yogurt containing good bacteria) or as a dietary supplement is commonly thought to have a beneficial effect on the intestines by maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria.  Advertising reinforces this idea.

Probiotic supplements from a number of different manufacturers can be found in most health food stores at a variety of prices. The question is, do some of these work better than others or should we just buy the cheapest brand and be done with it? Are they effective at all? On the other hand, might it be better to consume probiotics in another form altogether, such as live yogurt or probiotic fruit juice? Probiotics also occur naturally in other foods such as miso, kefir and fermented soy products.  What’s the truth?

Let’s start with yogurt. It has been suggested that live yogurt is actually a very ineffective source of probiotics, as the presence of micro-organisms is at a relatively low dose and they have no protection to ensure that they survive the less than friendly stomach acids to actually make it as far as the bowel. The effect of other natural probiotic foods is thought to be similarly minimal in impact.

Given that the gut contains over 100 trillion microorganisms, it needs a pretty large number of probiotic microbes to have any effect at all on the internal ecology of the bowel. For this reason, low-strength probiotic supplements containing less than 10 million CFU (colony forming units) of bacteria are thought to be just as unhelpful as yogurt or other natural foods, unless the supplement is either enterically coated or contains acid-resistant bacteria, both of which help survival in the stomach.

The CFU number of a probiotic supplement is a good general guide as to how effective it might be, but other factors are also important. A single-strain supplement (containing just a single probiotic species) will not be able to work anywhere near as effectively as one containing multiple strains of good bacteria.

However, it is not necessarily the case that a supplement containing more strains will be better than one containing fewer, since each additional strain is present in proportionally lower numbers. Recent studies suggest that between three and seven strains are optimal for effectiveness, and any species present in numbers fewer than 2 million CFU are pretty much a waste of space. In addition, some species of good bacteria are themselves ineffective. Strains from the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are thought to be the most reliable. Some strains of Saccharmyces , such as S. boulardi,  may also be effective.

In addition to buying a quality supplement in the first place, there are some other things you can do to improve the effectiveness of your probiotic. First, always keep your probiotics in the refrigerator. Second, consume foods known as prebiotics that improve the growth of good bacteria. Prebiotics include the amino acids lysine and methionine, which are found in proteins such as whey and fish, and galactose, which is a constituent of dairy products and sugar beets.

Neck Pain? Back Pain? Call us, we can help 919-484-1400

Dr. P. Dubois, DC, CCSP

Dr. Dubois,a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.


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