Tag Archives: caffeine

5 Foods for Senior Moments

[image via R2 Thoughts 4 You]

We’re having a national senior moment.

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are a demographic time bomb. Making up nearly one-third of the population, they’ve reached the age of memory loss, slowed reflexes, and synaptic glitches. That’s 75 million boomers that can’t remember what they went upstairs for.

Brain foods really work.
In the same way that a low cholesterol diet can keep plaque from forming in arteries, there are foods that can keep plaque from forming in your brain. You can unclog your cognitive functions just like you can unclog your arteries.

There are also foods that can sharpen your focus and concentration, enhance your memory, and speed your reaction times. Add them to your diet early enough and you can stave off cognitive decline later in life.

Here are five foods that can make a real difference; if you’re one of those baby boomers, maybe you should write them down.

http://yourbarcelonaguide.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/salmon-steak12_-_resize_large.jpg Nothing preserves cognitive ability like wild salmon. That’s right, wild— not just any salmon will do. Farmed salmon doesn’t develop the same quality or level of essential fatty acids that make wild salmon the ultimate brain food.

http://www.pachd.com/free-images/food-images/matcha-green-tea-01.jpg Just like the wild variety is souped-up salmon, matcha is high-test green tea. Matcha is a type of Japanese green tea that’s ground into a powder. Instead of drinking an extract, like what you get when tea leaves are brewed, you consume the whole thing dissolved into the beverage. The brain buzz of focus and clarity is exponentially greater, and immediately noticeable. And the Kermit-green shade? That’s how it’s supposed to look.

http://www.fitnessgurusam.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/energy-coffee-and-sugar.jpg The brain boost from caffeine or sugar is short-lived but real. They both can make you alert and focused. Too much sugar, though, can actually interfere with your memory.

http://www.blackdiamonduniversity.com/images/monavie-training/product/acai-in-basket.jpg The acai berry is this year’s pomegranate; the ‘it’ fruit that is showing up everywhere, blended into smoothies and dressings, flavoring teas, juices, and sodas. Oddly, for a fruit, its nutritional profile resembles that of wild salmon, high in protein and the essential fatty acids our brains desire.

http://www.cheftools.com/images/13-0938-180.jpg The newest brain food discovery is turmeric. Turmeric is a mildly-flavored, deep yellow spice that is always found in curry powder, and is often used as a less costly alternative to saffron. It is such a powerful brain plaque-remover that it’s being tested as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.


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The Hungriest Organ


image via Walk the Road Less Traveled

According to the Journal of Physiology, your brain is just 2 percent of your body weight but sucks down 20 percent of your daily calories. Feed it right and you’ll be perky, productive, and alert. Junk it up with the wrong foods and you’ll never remember where you put your keys.

A little coffee and sugar can get your brain going in the morning. Caffeine fires you up pretty much instantaneously, and a sweet on the side adds to the effect: the duo can improve physical energy, short-term memory, and problem-solving skills, but it’s temporary, and there’s an equally fast drop in all of those as the caffeine wears off and your body has burned through the sugar.

Keep coffee and danish to a minimum; the better choice: citrus or berries (complex sugars to power up, anti-oxidants to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment), and cereal (protein for long-lasting brain energy, memory, and attention).

An omelette and a salad are perfect midday brain food. The antioxidants in a salad can mop up the cell-damaging free radicals you’ve run into all morning from the ozone and pollutants, and the combination of vitamins C and E can improve cognitive skills and stave off Alzheimer’s Disease. A sprinkle of sunflower seeds, nuts, or dried herbs will add the vitamins, and dark green (romaine, spinach) or orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes) are full of the antioxidant beta-carotene. The eggs are rich in choline, which your body uses to produce a neurotransmitter that snaps your brain to attention and boosts memory.

Have a little yogurt for dessert and you’ll produce dopamine, the happy neurotransmitter, and noradrenalin, the perky hormone. Together they will help you face the afternoon with a smile.

Your brain loves a good snack. A couple of pints of blood move through it every single minute, and the brain is always on the the lookout for nutrients in the flow; its favorite would be 25 grams of glucose in there, which is exactly one banana. Avoid junky processed foods with their trans-fatty acids. Rodents that are fed a steady diet of junk food get seriously confused by the classic rat-in-a-maze experiment, while in humans, highly-processed chips and baked goods have been implicated in a slew of mental disorders, from dyslexia and ADHD  to autism.

Have a cocktail or two to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Eat fish to rebuild the cells and gray matter you were losing all day, and finish up with a dessert containing strawberries or blueberries, which seem to help with coordination, concentration, and short-term memory.

According to Men’s Health, you can tailor your food choices to suit specific mental tasks, from picking the best American Idol contestant to refinancing your mortgage. Check out its list of the best and worst brain foods for the job, which it claims can boost your brain’s productivity by 200 percent.


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Should Kids Drink Coffee?

[image via the New Yorker]

Of course kids are drinking coffee.

Soda is out—high fructose corn syrup, you know. Sports drinks aren’t any better.
Certainly not milk—even if you get past the lactose-intolerant crowd, there’s all that animal fat. Juice boxes? Too sugary.
The pickings are slim; it was either going to be coffee or kid-friendly bourbon.

And what exactly is so wrong with that?

Coffee doesn’t stunt anyone’s growth. That turned out to be a giant fallacy.
And it has health benefits, reducing the risk for Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis, and gallstones, although they’re not exactly pediatric ailments.

Of bigger concern is of course the caffeine. Coffee does rev you up and can cause jittery nerves and insomnia, although some feel that coffees’ dopamine boost actually calms down kids with ADHD. Best is to keep a tally of caffeine intake from all sources—soda, candy, hot chocolate, ice cream, and even cold medicine could already be gunning their little engines.

Tolerances and responses to caffeine differ widely among individuals, but it’s pretty safe to assume that the younger they are, the less coffee they probably should drink. The United States hasn’t developed dietary guidelines for kids and caffeine, but Health Canada recommends no more than 45 mg/day for 4 – 6 year olds;  62.5 mg/day at 7 – 9 years; and 85 mg/day for 10 – 12 year olds— compared with moderate adult intake of around 400 mg. (about 3 coffees’ worth).

The real problem isn’t even the coffee.
It’s the vanilla syrup and the caramel drizzle, the steamed milk and whipped cream. It’s all the frozen, blended mochafrappacappalattaccinos that masquerade as coffee. And there aren’t many kids who take it black.

There are coffee concoctions from Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks that hover in burger-and-fries territory in terms of fat and calories. For kids, that can add up to breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in a single to-go cup.

Here’s a little math homework:
N= (2F)x 52
N is the number of times this year that your child will ask you for a 5-dollar bill to feed a twice weekly frappuccino habit.
Solve for N and you’ll have one of the best reasons for kids to cut the caffeine habit.

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Hung Over? You Need Food!


The office party. The neighbors’ open house. Too much holiday cheer. Nogs and bubbly and toddies.
Forget about the hair of the dog; you need food.

Eating before drinking is a good thing. Food in your stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream and gives your body a little extra time to process alcohol’s byproducts. Dairy products can also protect the stomach lining. Smoothies and sports drinks can help maintain electrolytes and keep you hydrated. Fried and fatty foods stick to the stomach lining the longest. In Mediterranean countries it’s traditional to down a spoonful of olive oil before imbibing.

Last Call
Replenish before bed with a few glasses of water. It fights dehydration and helps break down the alcohol still in your stomach and dilute what’s in your bloodstream. Even better are enhanced waters and sports drinks that can replace the salts and minerals lost through drinking.

The morning after
Before you reach for the coffee, try some juice. The fructose will give you a boost of energy and metabolize any residual alcohol, and the vitamin C can flush out toxins. Experienced drinkers swear by the restorative effects of prickly pear juice.

Eggs are a good choice for breakfast. They contain large amounts of cysteine, a substance that breaks down the hangover-causing toxins that alcohol leaves in your liver. And what about mopping up the eggs with burnt toast? There’s an urban legend kind of remedy that claims that the carbon in burnt toast will act like a filter to remove alcohol and toxins, akin to the carbon that is pumped into the stomach of a poisoning victim. But a hangover and alcohol poisoning are two very different animals, as are activated carbon and blackened toast.

Now, the coffee
The caffeine will help fight fatigue. It can also alleviate a headache by constricting blood vessels in your head that the alcohol swelled. Unfortunately, coffee is a diuretic and will exacerbate dehydration so that ultimately that hangover headache will come roaring back. Hydrate. And hydrate some more.

The best cure of all is time. Most hangovers disappear within 8 to 24 hours.

Need more suggestions?

The Chowhound board has a thread dedicated to hangover foods.

NationalGeographic.com features an interactive chart of hangover cures from around the globe.

Over at Hangover School, they rate the cures, including a new breed of preventive treatments.

Deep-fried canaries, Polish pickle juice—the LA Times has a slideshow of the world’s worst hangover cures.


Posted in beer + wine + spirits | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Starbucks’ New, Flavorless Coffee Beans.

roasted and unroasted coffee beans image via Smithsonian.com .


Customers have long complained that Starbucks coffee tastes burnt. Apparently, the company has been listening. Maybe a little too well. Starbucks is rolling out a new beverage made from unroasted, green coffee beans.

What, you might ask, does unroasted coffee taste like? According to Starbucks’ vice president of global beverage Julie Felss Masino, “It’s coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee.” In fact, the company refers to the green coffee extract as ‘flavor neutral.’ It also doesn’t have a coffee aroma, and contains a mere fraction of the caffeine. And the point of this new beverage is…?

Starbucks has rolled out two flavors of the iced, green coffee beverage called Refreshers. Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus get their flavor from added fruit juice and are sweetened with stevia.

Green coffee bean beverages aren’t exactly new. Like green tea, green coffee beans are  the youngest and least processed form that, on their own, produce a grassy, astringent brew. And like green tea, they have a longer history in Eastern cultures where they are prized mostly for medicinal uses. Recently, green coffee and its extracts have been available in weight-loss aides, and Nestlé has been selling its Nescafé Green Blend and Nescafé Protect, both containing one-third green beans to two-thirds roasted, which Nestlé is promoting for the health benefits provided by high levels of naturally-occurring antioxidants.

Next time you want a cup of coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee, smell like coffee, or pack much of a caffeine punch, you know right where to go.


Posted in coffee | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Ooh, My Aging Brain

      image via R2 Thoughts 4 You

We’re having a national senior moment.

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are a demographic time bomb. Making up nearly one-third of the population, they’ve reached the age of memory loss, slowed reflexes, and synaptic glitches. That’s 75 million boomers that can’t remember what they went upstairs for.

Brain foods really work.

In the same way that a low cholesterol diet can keep plaque from forming in arteries, there are foods that can keep plaque from forming in your brain. You can unclog your cognitive functions just like you can unclog your arteries. […]

Posted in health + diet | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Iced Coffee is Hot Hot Hot!


Iced coffee is expected to rack up yet another season of double-digit sales increases.

The big boys are tripping over each other with new product launches as each tries to cash in on our growing affinity for iced versions of our favorite beverage. Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and McDonalds will be going head-to-head this summer, each with its own frozen-dark-roasted-choice-of-flavored-syrup-blended-ginormous renditions. […]

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Coffee: How Much is Too Much?

image courtesy of Cocobean


Do you have a child named Joe? Get your minimum daily requirement of calcium from half and half? Have a line item for coffee in your budget? Do you think maybe you drink too much coffee?

How much coffee is too much coffee?

The medical community tells us that we should limit our caffeine intake to 200 – 300 mg. a day, or about two cups of coffee.

A little coffee is a good thing. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, alleviates fatigue, and increases wakefulness. It increases strength and endurance in athletes. Coffee is full of antioxidants that reduce risks of certain diseases like type-2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer. It’s been linked to lower rates of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. There are fewer suicides among coffee drinkers. […]

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Giving new meaning to the question Would you like whipped cream on that?

Seattle is well known as the first city of coffee. Starbucks and Seattle’s Best both got their start there. The city consistently ranks first in the U.S. for coffee consumption. Now Seattle might again break new ground as the first municipality to outlaw bikini baristas.

Competition is fierce in Seattle with thousands of coffeehouses, carts, kiosks, and drive-throughs vying for a share of the local caffeine dollars. A few years ago a local entrepreneur latched onto a plan to stand out from the crowd with scantily-clad baristas pulling the espresso shots. Similar coffee shops began popping up throughout the Pacific northwest– with names like  Brewlesque, Twin Perks, and Java Juggs– all hiring attractive young women to serve up steamy coffee drinks.

As competition heated up between these coffee establishments, the bikini baristas upped the ante to keep the big tips coming. Bikinis begat G-strings and pasties. Some cafe workers catered to special requests for extra hot or hold the foam. Five baristas were busted for prostitution.

Seattle and neighboring cities are seeking to regulate the coffee houses under adult entertainment ordinances. This would mean zoning restrictions and minimum age requirements. Baristas would be required to cover up if they are visible in a drive-through or storefront.

Could this spell the end for bikini baristas? Or the start of a First Amendment defense?

I’m just here for the cappuchino!

Sure you are…that’s why Bikini-Baristas.com lists 117 locations where you can get your, uh, caffeine fix.

Cowgirls Espresso is offering franchise opportunities. Get a good look at the business plan with more than 5 minutes of cowgirl footage on their website.


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Slow Your Roll: anti-energy drinks

image courtesy of flickr

Remember 2007?

Unemployment was low and the Dow was high. We were mainlining energy drinks— $7 billion worth— just to keep up. If the party wasn’t stopping then neither were we.

These days, we’re all frazzled nerves. We’re looking to be soothed. We need something to bring us down from the ledge of our own anxiety. […]

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Hungover? You need food!


The office party.  The neighbors’ open house. Nogs and bubbly and toddies.  A little too much holiday cheer?

Forget about the hair of the dog; you need food.


Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Buzzkill: FDA looks to ban caffeinated alcohol beverages


Last week, the Food and Drug Administration notified a few dozen beverage manufacturers that they have 30 days to provide evidence that beverages with added caffeine and alcohol do not pose a risk to health or safety. While singly the substances are approved, the FDA requires approval for each specific use.

The problem is that caffeine, a stimulant, can mask the intoxicating effects of alcohol, a depressant. The body feels less fatigued, the mind is more alert, the drinker perceives a lessened degree of intoxication, which can encourage more excessive drinking. In fact the opposite is true. […]

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Caffeine: It’s not just for coffee anymore.

image courtesy of AlmaNewsimage courtesy of AlmaNews

We do love the buzz. Whether we’re waking up to a morning cup of coffee or popping open a can of Diet Coke for an afternoon pick-me-up, caffeine is our drug of choice. It has psychoactive qualities, is highly addictive, and we just can’t seem to get enough. […]

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