Archive for the ‘Caffeine’ Category

Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired)

July 24, 2016

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If you stifle yawns in 2 p.m. meetings and find yourself passed out cold during the previews on movie nights, you probably already know you’re run down. But there’s a big difference between being pooped out and being exhausted — and the signs aren’t as obvious as just feeling tired. It’s important to know the difference, because exhaustion can be downright dangerous.

“Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated facets of health,” says Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life. “The consequences of sacrificing it can ripple throughout various areas of your life. Exhaustion has been linked to issues with appetite regulation, heart disease, increased inflammation, and a 50 percent increase in your risk of viral infection.” So if you’re tired and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, it might mean you’re exhausted — and it’s time to devote some serious time to sleep, ASAP

6 Clues That You’re Totally Exhausted

1. Your Lips Are Dry
If your lips are cracked, your skin is scaly, and you’re suffering from frequent headaches, dehydration may be to blame. Yes, this is a common woe in cold-weather climates. But, if you’re feeling rundown, you should know it goes hand-in-hand with exhaustion. “You feel more fatigued the more dehydrated you are,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. “If you’re constantly craving something to drink or experience dry skin and lips, you might be dealing with a level of hydration that can lead to exhaustion.”

“You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day.”

Water affects so many systems within your body that it’s impossible to maintain your energy levels if you’re not drinking sufficient amounts of H20, he explains. “People often forget to hydrate because it just isn’t on their minds. Everyone’s different, but I always tell people you should drink water to the point where your urine is clear,” says Breus.

2. Your Mind Is All Fuzzy
Your brain needs sleep like a car needs gas; neither runs very well on empty. “Among other things, your body uses sleep to stabilize chemical imbalances, to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day,” says Dr. Andersen.

This is especially important during the 90-minute period known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When it’s disturbed, your mind might be sluggish the next day. “You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day,” says Dr. Andersen. Exhaustion can leave you vulnerable to forgetting important things, like a big meeting at work, or feeling especially irritable, says Dr. Andersen.

3. Your Workouts Have Sucked
Not crushing it at the gym like you usually do? Being exhausted causes every aspect of your life to suffer — including exercise, according to Dr. Andersen. “Exercising requires mental focus as well as physical activity,” Andersen says. “If your brain is falling behind because you are not well-rested, your ability to properly challenge your body will be limited — and that’s in addition to the many performance consequences that come with poor sleep.”

Another big sign: You can’t even bring yourself to make it to the gym. “Our bodies are programmed to find the easy way out, which was useful 10,000 years ago when survival was difficult. Today that means one night of lost sleep can lead to weeks of missed workouts and unhealthy meals,” says Dr. Andersen.

4. You’re Super Stressed (and Trying to Ignore It)
It’s no surprise that stress can keep you up at night, but the way you deal with it is what might cause exhaustion-inducing insomnia, according to research in the journal SleepFor the study, researchers asked nearly 2,900 men and women about the stress in their lives, including how long it affected them, how severe it was, and how they handled the pressure. A year later, the researchers found that people who coped with stress by distracting themselves, dwelling on the issues, or trying to completely ignore it had higher instances of chronic insomnia, which they characterized as three sleepless nights a week for a month or more. This can turn into a vicious cycle of stress and exhaustion fueling one other. The researchers suggest using mindfulness techniques to ease stress might be a better way to cope.

5. You’re Eating More Junk Than Usual
Find yourself hitting up the office vending machine on the regular? “The more exhausted you are, the more you crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods,” says Breus. Exhaustion often corresponds with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. To decrease cortisol, your brain will often seek out a hit of the neurotransmitter serotonin. “[Serotonin] is a calming hormone. An easy way to access it is by ingesting comfort food full of carbs and fat,” says Breus.

Even worse, all that comfort food can just wind up making you more exhausted. “With highly processed, highly glycemic foods like soft drinks, candy bars, or bagels, blood sugar and insulin levels will rise dramatically,” says Dr. Anderson. “The elevated insulin levels actually cause blood sugar to plummet, so your brain triggers [more] cravings for something full of sugar, fat, and calories.” Then, it starts all over again. Instead of reaching for comforting junk, Dr. Andersen recommends fueling your body with healthy low-glycemic foods like fruits and whole grains that can help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your insulin levels from swinging wildly in either direction.

6. You Sleep Poorly Even Once a Week
You probably know that chronic insomnia can trigger exhaustion. But did you know that even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day? In a study in the journal Sleep Medicine, 61 study participants slept for eight hours for one night. The next night, their rest was interrupted by four phone calls that instructed them to finish a short computer challenge before they could continue sleeping. Researchers found that after a night of fragmented sleep, people experienced worse moods along with weaker attention spans, suggesting that interrupted sleep might be as detrimental as the exhaustion that comes with full-on sleep restriction.

Or, maybe instead of dealing with interrupted sleep, you just go to bed way later than you should. “Bedtime procrastination” is the latest buzzy term in sleep medicine. In a study in Frontiers in Medicine, researchers discovered that on nights when the 177 participants reported procrastinating their zzz’s, they slept less and with worse quality. Plus, they experienced more intense fatigue the next day. “Set your bedtime and stick to it, counting back seven hours from when you need to wake up to determine the ideal start to your sleep latency period, or falling asleep time,” advises Dr. Andersen. “Decrease stimulation 30 minutes before you plan to sleep by shutting off cellphones, televisions, and other devices.”

Ready to make a change? Check out this guide for a better night’s rest.

Updated January 2016  on 1/15/2016
http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/exhausted-signs-tips/

 

Surviving the HSC

October 19, 2014

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Practical advice for the whole family

If your child is studying for the HSC, you’re probably feeling the stress too. Many parents want to help but don’t want to interfere.

As well as pre-exam tension, there are other common factors that can make life seem even more challenging for the whole family.

Year 12 is often the year when kids:

  • lose interest in school
  • have no plans for after the HSC
  • develop an intense relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • get their driver’s licence
  • experiment with legal or illegal drugs
  • have a part-time job
  • are a member of a sporting team
  • develop an eating disorder
  • suffer from depression.

If any of these concerns sound familiar, don’t despair. You’re not alone – and this won’t last forever.

How you can help

Richard Cracknell, counsellor and district guidance officer at Inverell High School advises that “the most obvious forms of support parents can offer are the practical, physical things,” and recommends parents:

  • Provide a good place to study, that’s quiet, comfortable, with good ventilation, good lighting, adequate desk or table space and free from distractions such as TV, noise, a telephone, interesting conversations, little brothers and sisters.
  • Provide healthy, balanced meals.
  • Encourage sleep and regular exercise.
  • Encourage them to avoid late night parties and alcohol consumption.

Less obvious, but just important, is giving your child the support they need in the lead-up to exams, which can be hard when emotions run high.

Tips to remember

  • Be supportive and encouraging.
  • Highlight strengths and successes. Encourage your child not to dwell on failures, but to see them as “mistakes”, which can actually be something they can learn and benefit from.
  • Appreciate your child maybe feeling very stressed, even if it’s not obvious to you. Many kids fear letting their family down so beware of setting unrealistic expectations. Some worry they can’t do as well as a sibling, or friend. Many Year 12 kids are feeling overwhelmed about what lies ahead: leaving home, leaving lifelong friends, the prospect of having to live in a new city.
  • Understand people under pressure become supersensitive and explosive from time to time. Family members are usually the first targets. Try not to overreact.
  • Be realistic in your expectations as to where the HSC leads. Not all HSC students will go on to university – but they can still have a wealth of excellent and satisfying career options. If they don’t get the HSC marks they needed and still really want to go on to tertiary education later, there are many other pathways. Interestingly, the success rate of mature age students is much higher than for those who go straight from school.
  • Encourage your child to seek help from teachers or the school counsellor if they are having any difficulty with subjects, study organisation, stress or anxiety about examinations.
  • Encourage a healthy balance between work and leisure. Some times kids need a total break from everything for a weekend  or so, to recharge their batteries.
  • Take an interest in what your child is doing, if they’ll allow you to (some won’t). This can include the subjects or topics being studied, how their study timetables and programs have been organised and their leisure pursuits. (Note: “Taking an interest in” does not mean interfering.)
  • Remember the occasional hug and “I love you” don’t go astray, even when they are 18 years old.
  • Encourage and allow your child to be as independent as you can possibly stand. The more independent your child is in meeting the demands of Year 12, the better prepared they will be to succeed at a tertiary level or in the workforce.

Just before exams:

  • Don’t stress about the little things like leaving lights on, leaving the lid off the toothpaste and not doing chores.
  • Don’t panic when they announce on the evening before the examination that they know nothing. (Reassure them, even if you think they could be right. “Just do the best you can. We know you’re giving it your best shot.” is a good standby.)
  • Avoid nagging, which doesn’t mean you can’t give a nudge or gentle reminder from time to time.
  • Encourage confidence by reassuring your child. If you have doubts, keep them to yourself.

According to Richard Cracknell, all parents make mistakes, and we need to bear in mind that we’re human too.

Don’t feel too badly when you forget not to nag, when you get picky, and complain bitterly that your child has the time to attend the 18th birthday party of every Year 12 student, but doesn’t have time to help with the washing up.

As parents we sometimes can’t help being over-involved and from time to time we also feel the pressure of Year 12.

Know this is a temporary stage, just like the newborn, toddler and adolescent stages you’ve already negotiated together.

Article sourced here: http://www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/homework-and-study/homework-tips/tips-for-surviving-the-hsc

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Simple Egg Souffle

July 24, 2014

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Alcohol & Weight Loss Are Enemies

June 8, 2014

almixAlcohol and weight loss are enemies, but an occasional drink can have a place in a healthy lifestyle. In fact, many experts note the potential health benefits of consuming a single drink per day, including a reduced risk for high blood pressure If, however, you are exceeding one drink daily, you might be sabotaging your weight loss plans.

Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. Under normal conditions, your body gets its energy from the calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system. However, this digestive process changes when alcohol is present. When you drink alcohol, it gets immediate attention (because it is viewed by the body as a toxin) and needs no digestion.

On an empty stomach, the alcohol molecules diffuse through the stomach wall quickly and can reach the brain and liver in minutes. This process is slower when you have food in your stomach, but as soon as that food enters the small intestine, the alcohol grabs first priority and is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.

As the alcohol reaches the liver for processing, the liver places all of its attention on the alcohol. If you drink very slowly, all the alcohol is collected by the liver and processed immediately—avoiding all other body systems. If you drink more quickly, the liver cannot keep up with the processing needs and the alcohol continues to circulate in the body until the liver is available to process it. That’s why drinking large amounts of alcohol (or drinking alcohol quickly) affect the brain centers involved with speech, vision, reasoning and judgment.

When the body is focused on processing alcohol, it is not able to properly break down foods containing carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, these calories are converted into body fat and are carried away for permanent storage on your body.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and offers NO nutritional value. It only adds empty calories to your diet. Why not spend your calorie budget on something healthier?

Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways. Drinking may help induce sleep, but the sleep you get isn’t very deep. As a result, you get less rest, which can trigger you to eat more calories the next day. Alcohol can also increase the amount of acid that your stomach produces, causing your stomach lining to become inflamed. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to serious health problems, including stomach ulcers, liver disease, and heart troubles.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which is detrimental to your diet plans. Alcohol actually stimulates your appetite. While you might be full from a comparable amount of calories from food, several drinks might not fill you up. On top of that, research shows that if you drink before or during a meal, both your inhibitions and willpower are reduced. In this state, you are more likely to overeat—especially greasy or fried foods—which can add to your waistline. To avoid this, wait to order that drink until you’re done with your meal.

Many foods that accompany drinking (peanuts, pretzels, chips) are salty, which can make you thirsty, encouraging you to drink even more. To avoid overdrinking, sip on a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage.

Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks later is a bad idea. Many drinkers know they’ll be having some alcohol later, whether going to a bar, party, or just kicking back at home. Knowing that drinking entails extra calories, it may be tempting to “bank” some calories by skipping a meal or two. This is a bad move. If you come to the bar hungry, you are even more likely to munch on the snacks, and drinking on an empty stomach enhances the negative effects of alcohol. If you’re planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You’ll feel fuller, which will stop you from overdrinking. If you are worried about a looming night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.

What are more important, calories or carbs? You might think that drinking liquor is more diet-friendly because it has no carbohydrates, while both wine and beer do contain carbs. But dieters need to watch calories, and liquor only has a few calories less than beer or wine. Plus, it is often mixed with other drinks, adding even more empty calories. Hard liquor contains around 100 calories per shot, so adding a mixer increases calories even more. If you are going to mix liquor with anything, opt for a diet or club soda, instead of fruit juice or regular soda. Sweeter drinks, whether liquor or wine, tend to have more sugar, and therefore more calories. In that respect, dry wines usually have fewer calories than sweet wines.

The list below breaks down the number of calories in typical alcoholic drinks. Compare some of your favorites to make a good choice next time you decide to indulge in a serving of alcohol.alcoholstandarddrinks

Drink Serving Size Calories
Red wine 5 oz. 100
White wine 5 oz. 100
Champagne 5 oz. 130
Light beer 12 oz. 105
Regular beer 12 oz. 140
Dark beer 12 oz. 170
Cosmopolitan 3 oz. 165
Martini 3 oz. 205
Long Island iced tea 8 oz. 400
Gin & Tonic 8 oz. 175
Rum & Soda 8 oz. 180
Margarita 8 oz. 200
Whiskey Sour 4 oz. 200

Alcohol can easily be the enemy when it comes to weight loss. It adds extra calories to your diet, encourages you to eat more food, and alters the normal digestive process. Not only are the extra calories a hindrance, but the changes in food breakdown sends turns those extra calories into unwanted body fat. Alcohol does have a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss, and rightfully so, so be smart about your alcohol choices if you’re watching your weight. This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople’s nutrition expert Becky Hand, MS, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.

Article sourced here http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=563

Caffeine Myths & Facts

March 31, 2013

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Caffeine myth or caffeine fact? It’s not always easy to know. Chances are you have some real misperceptions about caffeine. For starters, do you know the most common sources of caffeine? Well, maybe two of the sources aren’t too hard to name — coffee and tea leaves. But did you know kola nuts and cocoa beans are also included among the most common caffeine sources? And do you know how much caffeine content can vary from food to food? Turns out it’s quite a lot actually, depending on the type and serving size of a food or beverage and how it’s prepared.

Caffeine content can range from as much as 160 milligrams in some energy drinks to as little as 4 milligrams in a 1-ounce serving of chocolate-flavored syrup. Even decaffeinated coffee isn’t completely free of caffeine. Caffeine is also present in some over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medications, and diet pills. These products can contain as little as 16 milligrams or as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine. In fact, caffeine itself is a mild painkiller and increases the effectiveness of other pain relievers.

Want to know more? Read on. WebMD has examined some of the most common myths about caffeine and gathered the facts to shed some light on those myths.

Caffeine Myth No. 1: Caffeine Is Addictive

This one has some truth to it, depending on what you mean by “addictive.” Caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and regular use of caffeine does cause mild physical dependence. But caffeine doesn’t threaten your physical, social, or economic health the way addictive drugs do. (Although after seeing your monthly spending at the coffee shop, you might disagree!)

If you stop taking caffeine abruptly, you may have symptoms for a day or more, especially if you consume two or more cups of coffee a day. Symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine include:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • depressed mood
  • difficulty concentrating

No doubt, caffeine withdrawal can make for a few bad days. However, caffeine does not cause the severity of withdrawal or harmful drug-seeking behaviors as street drugs or alcohol. For this reason, most experts don’t consider caffeine dependence a serious  addiction.

Caffeine Myth No. 2: Caffeine Is Likely to Cause Insomnia

Your body quickly absorbs caffeine. But it also gets rid of it quickly. Processed mainly through the liver, caffeine has a relatively short half-life. This means it takes about five to seven hours, on average, to eliminate half of it from your body. After eight to 10 hours, 75% of the caffeine is gone. For most people, a cup of coffee or two in the morning won’t interfere with sleep at night.

Consuming caffeine later in the day, however, can interfere with sleep. If you’re like most people, your sleep won’t be affected if you don’t consume caffeine at least six hours before going to bed. Your sensitivity may vary, though, depending on your metabolism and the amount of caffeine you regularly consume. People who are more sensitive may not only experience insomnia but also have caffeine side effects of nervousness and gastrointestinal upset.

Caffeine Myth No. 3: Caffeine Increases Risk for Conditions Such as Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, and Cancer

Moderate amounts of caffeine — about 300 milligrams, or three cups of coffee — apparently cause no harm in most healthy adults. Some people are more vulnerable to its effects, however. That includes such people as those who have high blood pressure or are older. Here are the facts:

  • Osteoporosis and caffeine. At high levels (more than 744 milligrams/day), caffeine may increase calcium and magnesium loss in urine. But recent studies suggest it does not increase your risk for bone loss, especially if you get enough calcium. You can offset the calcium lost from drinking one cup of coffee by adding just two tablespoons of milk. However, research does show some links between caffeine and hip fracture risk in older adults. Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine on calcium metabolism. If you’re an older woman, discuss with your doctor whether you should limit your daily caffeine intake to 300 milligrams or less.
  • Cardiovascular disease and caffeine. A slight, temporary rise in heart rate and blood pressure is common in those who are sensitive to caffeine. But several large studies do not link caffeine to higher cholesterol, irregular heartbeats, or an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If you already have high blood pressure, though, have a discussion with your doctor about your caffeine intake. You may be more sensitive to its effects. Also, more research is needed to tell whether caffeine increases the risk for stroke in people with high blood pressure.
  • Cancer and caffeine. Reviews of 13 studies involving 20,000 people revealed no relationship between cancer and caffeine. In fact, caffeine may even have a protective effect against certain cancers.

Caffeine Myth No. 4: Caffeine Is Harmful for Women Trying to Get Pregnant

Many studies show no links between low amounts of caffeine (a cup of coffee per day) and any of the following:

  • trouble conceiving
  • miscarriage
  • birth defects
  • premature birth
  • low birth rate

At the same time, for pregnant women or those attempting pregnancy, the March of Dimes suggests fewer than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. That’s largely because in limited studies, women consuming higher amounts of caffeine had an increased risk for miscarriage.

Caffeine Myth No. 5: Caffeine Has a Dehydrating Effect

Caffeine can make you need to urinate. However, the fluid you consume in caffeinated beverages tends to offset the effects of fluid loss when you urinate. The bottom line is that although caffeine does act as a mild diuretic, studies show drinking caffeinated drinks doesn’t actually cause dehydration.

Caffeine Myth No. 6: Caffeine Harms Children, Who, Today, Consume Even More Than Adults

As of 2004, children ages 6 to 9 consumed about 22 milligrams of caffeine per day. However, energy drinks that contain caffeine are becoming increasingly popular.

Studies suggest that up to 300 milligrams of caffeine daily is safe for kids. But is it smart? Many kids are sensitive to caffeine, developing temporary anxiety or irritability, with a “crash” afterwards. Also, most caffeine that kids drink is in sodas, energy drinks, or sweetened teas, all of which have high sugar content. These empty calories put kids at higher risk for obesity.

Even if the caffeine itself isn’t harmful, caffeinated drinks are generally not good for kids.

Caffeine Myth No. 7: Caffeine Can Help You Sober Up

Actually, research suggests that people only think caffeine helps them sober up. For example, people who drink caffeine along with alcohol think they’re OK behind the wheel. But the truth is reaction time and judgment are still impaired. College kids who drink both alcohol and caffeine are actually more likely to have car accidents.

Caffeine Myth No. 8: Caffeine Has No Health Benefits

Caffeine has few proven health benefits. But the list of caffeine’s potential benefits is interesting. Any regular coffee drinker may tell you that caffeine improves alertness, concentration, energy, clear-headedness, and feelings of sociability. You might even be the type who needs that first cup o’ Joe each morning before you say a single word. Scientific studies support these subjective findings. One French study even showed a slower decline in cognitive ability among women who consumed caffeine.

Other possible benefits include improved immune function from caffeine’s anti-inflammatory effects and help with allergic reactions due to caffeine’s ability to reduce concentrations of histamines. Some people’s asthma also appears to benefit from caffeine. These research findings are intriguing, but still need to be proven.

Limited evidence suggests caffeine may also reduce the risk of the following:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • liver disease
  • colorectal cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • dementia

Despite its potential benefits, don’t forget that high levels of caffeine may have adverse effects. More studies are needed to confirm both its benefits and potential risks.

Information sourced from: http://www.webmd.com/balance/caffeine-myths-and-facts