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Study shows caffeine “perks” us up

Roasted coffee beans, the world's primary sour...

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Let the coffee drinkers of the world rejoice. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has discussed a positive relationship between caffeine and depression. This study looked at more than 50,000 women who were free from depression at the beginning of the study. This group was followed for 10 years to observe the relationship between caffeine and depression. Interestingly, those who drank 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 15 % decrease in depression, and those that drank 4 cups a day had a 20% decrease.  Those who drank decaf coffee or other beverages with lower caffeine levels such as tea did not show the same association. The study also found that regular coffee drinkers were more likely to drink more alcohol, be current smokers and were less likely to be involved as volunteers or in community groups. They also had less obesity, fewer blood pressure issues and lower rates of diabetes.

The proposed relationship between caffeine and depression is as follows. Depression is caused by an inadequacy in  3 neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. A deficit in these neurotransmitters results in changes to brain chemistry thereby producing symptoms of depression such as decreased mood, motivation, activity level, sleep etc. The current thinking is that caffeine works on neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in the brain thereby mitigating the chemical changes caused by depression.

While we do know that some caffeine increases our alertness, enhances psychomotor performance, and let’s be honest makes people happy, we also know that too much caffeine can cause jitters, palpitations and insomnia. So while this study does bring some interesting possibilities to future mental illness research, it does not mean that we should all run out and overdose on Starbucks.

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Increase Your Core, Decrease Your Pain

Anyone who has ever suffered from back pain will tell you they’ll try ANYTHING to get back to feeling normal again. Drugs, lotions, hanging upside down by their ankles, you name it. For some reason, what many people don’t try is preventative care.

Research has shown  that increasing our core stability (meaning the muscles in our midsection) is one of the greatest tools one can use to both treat and prevent low back pain. I can hear the groaning now, “Exercise?! I don’t like going to the gym. I don’t have any equipment. I don’t have enough time in the day.” What if you didn’t need a gym membership, no equipment was necessary, and you only needed the time it takes to make your morning coffee?

Dr.Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at Waterloo University has come up with three exercises dubbed the “McGill 3” that are the  key exercises for back pain prevention and treatment. Give them a try. All you have to lose is your pain.

1) CRUNCH
Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hands resting behind head. Suck stomach in and curl body to lift shoulder blades off floor. Maintain abdominal hollow as you lower slowly back down .Keep neck in neutral, elbows back, do not pull on head. If having difficulty maintaining neutral neck position, exercise can be performed with hands on chest. Stop if the exercise causes pain.  Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

2) SIDE BRIDGE
Lie on one side with knees bent, weight supported by elbow/forearm which rests directly below the shoulder. Knees, hips and shoulders are in line. Raise hip off floor, moving spine from side flexed to neutral alignment. Maintain abdominal hollow. Avoid rotating backwards or forwards. Hold position for 3 relaxed breaths, slowly lower and repeat. Stop the exercise if it causes pain. (Modify with weight supported on bent knees) Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

3) BIRD DOG
On hands and knees, keep back flat and maintain an abdominal hollow. Slowly extend one leg behind while at the same time reaching opposite arm in front until parallel with floor. Keep trunk stable, avoid twisting. Hold for 3 relaxed breaths, slowly return to start position, repeat. Stop if the exercise causes pain. Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

Do each of the exercises as prescribed every other day.

For pictures and printable instructions click here: McGill 3

The Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing

Written by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

The skin is the largest organ for elimination of the toxins within the body. Brushing the skin can stimulate the body’s natural cleansing and healing systems to help detoxify the body and strengthen the immune system. Dry skin brushing exfoliates and stimulates new skin growth. It cleanses the lymphatic system, removes dead skin and cellulite, tightens skin, tones muscles and stimulates circulation. The process also stimulates more activity in your sebaceous, or oil, glands, which helps the body create its own natural moisturizer and lessens the appearance of dimpled skin. Dry skin brushing has been practiced for thousands of years by the Japanese, the Ancient Greeks, and the Cherokee Indians. It’s easy once you get the hang of it, and it only takes 15 minutes to your entire body.

Procedure:

You can utilize the dry-brushing technique by a number of methods, including a rough loofah sponge, washcloth, soft pumice stone, gloves or a natural fiber brush. I recommend the natural fiber brush to reach tough areas. Dry brush your skin first in the morning, before you shower. Your skin should be completely dry. Start at your feet and move upwards along your legs. Always brush in the direction of your heart to facilitate circulation. Repeat using upward strokes from your hands along your arms. Brush your torso in an upward motion and your stomach in a circular motion. Brush your tailbone to the base of your neck as you can reach. Use more vigorous strokes on areas where your skin is thick–like your soles, and light strokes on areas where your skin is thin. Don’t brush irritated or broken skin. Dry brush once a day, first thing in the morning. You can brush areas with cellulite twice a day for about five to ten minutes to minimize the appearance of cellulite. Do this consistently for five months for best results.

Precautions

Avoid brushing your skin too vigorously. Excessive or abrasive brushing can cause irritation and scrapes to the skin. Increase pressure gradually over a period of time. During the first few weeks, your skin will often be red after your bath or shower; if skin remains red for more than 5 to 10 minutes, the brushing was too vigorous and should be scaled back.

The Power of Lemons

Written by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

Lemons are remarkable fruits that can have a dramatic effect on your overall health and well-being.  Lemons boost the immune system, purify the blood and help the body rid itself of toxins.   Lemons and lemon juice are alkalizing, cleansing, antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant and may successfully treat a variety of health problems.  As well, lemons are high in vitamin C, potassium and other minerals.

For best results, add the juice of half a freshly picked lemon to cool or warm water.  Water that is too hot will destroy vital enzymes in the lemons.  It should be noted that pre-packaged and pasteurized lemon juice will not have the same health benefits.  Organic lemons are preferred over to avoid any pesticide or chemical residue that might remain on the skin and in the pulp.

Lemons and pH Balance

Ripe lemons have an alkalizing effect on the blood and urine despite being an acidic fruit.  Acidic diets lower the pH in the body resulting in alkaline minerals being drawn from bone, muscle and tissue to rebalance the pH. The depletion of calcium, magnesium and potassium over time can lead to
weakened bones and muscle wastage.

Digestion and Cleansing

Lemons can also relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, bloating, gas and cramping. Drinking lemon water regularly will aid in the cleansing of the bowels, which helps eliminate constipation and diarrhea.  Bitter foods such as lemons are known to stimulate the liver, which can aid in detoxification and weight loss.

Immune Boosting

Lemons are high in vitamin C, a well-known cold and flu-fighter.  Lemon and honey can ease the pain of a sore throat or soothe the tickling and itching of a cough.  Squeezing the juice of 1 lemon in 1 cup of warm water with 1 tbsp. honey makes a base for a soothing cough or sore throat remedy.  Alternatively, mix lemon juice and honey in a small bowl and drink to soothe a sore throat.

Considerations

Although alkalinizing to the body, lemons can be acidic to the tooth enamel. It is best to drink lemon water first thing in the am (which is also the best time for liver detoxification) and rinse your mouth afterward, than to sip throughout the day.  Always consult your healthcare practitioner to understand what is best for your individual health needs.