While research citing the many benefits of coffee has made headlines, there are still concerns as to whether excess caffeine is in our best interest. Interestingly, the research shows the benefits of coffee were present in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the benefits are not attributable to the caffeine content, but to other properties of the plant itself.
Many people, myself included, are either wary of the effect of excess caffeine on the nervous system or just do not tolerate caffeine well. Many people will choose to drink “decaf.” But is it safe?
To answer that question, it’s important to know how your decaf was processed and which processing method to opt for.
Is Your Decaf Actually Decaf?
First of all, it must be pointed out that ,while the FDA requires a beverage touted as “decaf” to be 97% caffeine free, drinking decaf can actually still add up to ingesting a bunch of caffeine:
- An 8 ounce cup of regular coffee can anywhere from 85 to 190mg of caffeine.
- An 8 ounce cup of decaf can range from 8.6 to 13.6mg of caffeine.
- A shot of decaf espresso can have as little as 3mg of caffeine and as much as 16mgs.
So beware if you are trying to avoid caffeine, drinking a double decaf latte can pack as much caffeine as a can of Coke!
Not All Decafs Are Created Equal!
When choosing a decaf, it’s important to inquire about the method that was used to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans. Choosing consciously can mean the difference between a clean product and one that is potentially laden with toxic chemicals.There are four common decaffeination methods used today:
1 – Most Pure: Water Process (Can be sold as organic decaf, no chemicals or solvents)
Water process decaffeination is when the beans are soaked in very hot water and the caffeine as well as flavors and other constituents are naturally extracted. This is commonly called Swiss Water Process and is far and away the most natural and safe decaffeination process.
2 – More Pure: Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction Method (can be sold as organic decaf, no chemicals or solvents)
This is a solvent-free extraction method that allows carbon dioxide (CO2) to selectively extract caffeine from a coffee bean. The beans are soaked in water and then, under very high pressure, CO2 is added. The CO2 acts like a magnet and pulls only the caffeine out of the saturated bean.
There are no residues or toxic by-products in this decaffeination method. In addition, CO2 is an organic substance of great purity.
3 – Less Pure: Ethyl Acetate Method (cannot be sold as organic decaf)
Ethyl acetate (EA) is a solvent that in very small amounts occurs naturally in many fruits, and is even found in coffee beans. In this caffeine extraction method, first the beans are steamed for 30 minutes and then steamed in water and EA for about 10 hours, where the caffeine is extracted by the EA. The mixture is drained and the process repeated several times to complete the extraction process.
Even though this solvent exists naturally in fruits, the EA that is used is typically synthetic.
Exposure to high levels of ethyl acetate results first in irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, followed by headache, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and unconsciousness. Its carcinogenic properties are not yet known. This level of exposure may not be reached from simply drinking a few cups a day but its important to be aware of these factors as more research is conducted.
4 – Least Pure: Methylene Chloride Method (i.e. Dichloromethane-DCM, cannot be sold as organic decaf, most commonly used)
According to many experts, this decaffeination method produces the best tasting cup of decaf. The beans are boiled in water extracting the flavors and caffeine. The water extract is separated from the beans and mixed with methylene chloride solution where the caffeine is extracted. Then the beans and caffeine-free water are re-united, whereupon the beans reabsorb their flavor.
Methylene chloride vaporizes at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is exceeded by both roasting and brewing, allowing most decafs processed this way to stay well within FDA solvent residue standards.
According to the EPA, methylene chloride is predominantly used as a solvent. The acute (short-term) effects of methylene chloride inhalation in humans consist mainly of nervous system effects including decreased visual, auditory, and motor functions, but these effects are reversible once exposure ceases. The effects of chronic (long-term) exposure to methylene chloride suggest that the central nervous system (CNS) is a potential target. Human data are inconclusive regarding methylene chloride and cancer. Animal studies have shown increases in liver and lung cancer and benign mammary gland tumors following the inhalation of methylene chloride.
Sadly, labeling of decaffeination method used is not required and although the FDA has established safe levels of these decaffeinating solvents, the only way to be sure you are not being exposed to any potentially harmful solvents is to buy organic decaf, which by law has to be decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process or a Supercritical extraction.
Source: Dr John Douillard Lifespa
Getting kids to eat healthy is not an easy task in the world we live in today! Junk food is everywhere and there is a tremendous lack of knowledge on healthy eating and the side effects of junk food. Even parents who understand the value of healthy eating and try their best to provide the best nutrition for their kids still find it a struggle. I know that for sure because I’m one of them. I have two boys, ages 8 and 6, and I am concerned about what they eat and want to teach them healthy eating habits. I have read all the books and articles I could find, talked to many parents I know, and taken inspiration from my own childhood experiences. Nothing works all the time, and what works with one child doesn’t with the other. Here is what worked for us, I hope it inspires you to find better methods that work for your unique family.
Enjoy eating vegetables in front of the kids. We all know that actions speak louder than words, so it is difficult for kids to eat vegetables if they don’t see their parents eating and enjoying them. Enjoy eating your favorite vegetables, even if the kids don’t - you don’t even have to offer it to them, their natural curiosity will get them to ask you to try some.
Get kids cooking and make it fun. One of the best ways to get kids to eat is to let them cook. The level of cooking depends on the age of course; even a two year old child can help rip the lettuce for salad! Make the process fun, give funny names to vegetables and let them create their dish if possible. When I first introduced dinosaur kale to my kids, they loved it, not because it tasted or looked good, but because it was a dinosaur kale and probably dinosaurs ate them! (that’s their own conclusion and I left them to their imagination!)
Don’t take it personally. From my own experience I realized that making a big issue about vegetables is never a good idea. The more I insist on them eating the veggies, the more they resist! It really is not beneficial to get into a power struggle over food. They won’t enjoy eating them (that’s if they eat them at all!), and they won't make good choices when I’m not around which is my ultimate goal. So I've learnt to ease up sometimes and know when to let go of the matter.
Let them choose what to eat. It is ok if they don’t like certain vegetables. Everyone has a different taste so I ask my kids to list their top three veggies and I will do my best to make them. Both my kids love fasoleya (green beans), red pepper and avocado. My youngest loves mushrooms while his brother hates it but loves cooked broccoli while the other wants to eat it raw!
Try new ingredients. Experiment with different recipes, share this with the kids, and let them tell you whether they like it or not. When I’m experimenting with a new recipe, I tell my kids that if they don’t like it then I will not make it again, but they have to eat it only this time so it doesn’t go to waste.
Designate a day for everyone. Have a day of the week when you cook the food they like best. I tell my kids that there are four of us in the house, and we need to cook what everyone likes. So whilst one day I will make their favorite dish (pasta and chicken), on another day I will cook what I like (lentil and rice for example). That way they understand that everyone has to compromise sometimes.
Talk to your kids. Explain why you make the choices you make, why eating brown rice is better than white for example. Explain that not all foods are created equal; that a McDonalds burger is not like the one made from fresh meat in a good quality burger joint. It all registers!
The 80/20 rule. Explain this simple rule to your kids (it’s a great one for adults too!): as a rule of thumb, a healthy diet should consist of at least 80% healthy food and 20% junk food. My kids were more receptive to eating vegetables and healthy food when they knew that they could have the candy or chocolate they wanted. This is not a reward system, which I never think is a good idea, but more of a realistic scenario. Sweet treats and junk food are ok to have as long as they are occasional.
“Eat healthy food that you like, I like fasoleya (Green beans) and I like fool (Fava beans) and I eat it”
“Don’t eat your chocolate first, eat your vegetables, then eat your chocolate”
Manal Aldabbagh is a Nia teacher, health coach and busy mother of two. She helps parents inspire their children into leading a healthy lifestyle and balance good nutrition, physical activity, mental and emotional health.
In light of the fact that we are regularly reminded of the dangers of red meat, many have cut back on meat and are unable to thrive with the energy they once had. In addition, we are told with good reliability that all fish carry unhealthy levels of mercury and therefore fish is on the “not to eat” list. Many just eat tons of chicken which, unless it is free range and organic, has its issues. Perhaps there are even more of us who just can't stomach the thought of eating animals and become vegetarians. While I am still a great fan of a mostly vegetarian diet, I find few are able to pull off vegetarianism well. Over time, an unhealthy and imbalanced vegetarian diet can cause a litany of health concerns. This is such a common presentation I felt it was important to create a quiz to help screen folks for the nutritional woes of a diet lacking in adequate protein.
If you have answered yes to any of the quiz questions and you are a vegetarian or eat meat or fish less than three times a week, you may be protein deficient. Ask your doctor for a blood test to confirm the levels of protein in your body, and watch this great video for information on Protein Deficiency Symptoms and the solutions to restoring protein balance in your body:
Source: Dr John Douillard LifeSpa
Have you always wondered what supplements you should be taking? Here are the basic staples that in my opinion everyone should be taking daily: Omega 3’s (brain & heart health), Vitamin D (bone health & immune system support), Probiotics (digestive system & immune system support (approximately 60 percent of your immune system lives in your gut!) and finally, if you are Vegetarian or Vegan, Vitamin B12 (nervous system support). I would add a good multi-vitamin & Mineral supplement too.
Remember that supplements should be considered as medication and you need to be properly informed before you take them. Some vitamins are stored in the body so you may be at risk of toxicity if you take too much, some may harm in pregnancy whilst others may interfere with certain medications. Always check with your doctor to make sure that you are doing the right thing! Watch this video for some great supplement advice from Dr. Kenneth Boch:
More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
It’s estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed and don’t even know they have it. Could you be one of them?
If you have any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance:
The best advice that I share with people is that if they feel significantly better off gluten or feel worse when they reintroduce it, then they've got their answer right there and gluten is a problem for them. There really is no need for expensive food intolerance tests, this method is really accurate and I use it all the time. In order to get accurate results from this testing method you must eliminate 100% of the gluten from your diet for a period of 7 days solid. You then reintroduce it on day 8 and watch for a reaction. If you are intolerant, it will be VERY obvious, trust me!
How do you treat gluten intolerance? Eliminating gluten 100% from your diet means 100%. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross contamination or medications or supplements can be enough to cause an immune reaction in your body. Remember that gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from your system. The longer you can stay off it the better, you can then try re-introducing it infrequently and in small quantities. Everyones body is different and their tolerance level is different. You may find that you can eat it once every 4-5 days without any problems, or you may conclude that even small amounts cause a reaction.
Source: Dr Amy Myers and Glowpeople
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