Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Health Benefits of Coffee

More than just the booster jump-starting your day, that morning cup of coffee can provide a variety of important health benefits.
When was the last time you heard a doctor use the word miracle? Well, wake up and smell the coffee. “It’s amazing,” says liver specialist Sanjiv Chopra, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Coffee is truly a lifesaving miracle drug.” Though he says it’s still a “scientific mystery” how a simple cup of coffee works its wonders in the body, large epidemiological studies repeatedly verify its astonishing benefits. Read on for some recent research highlights:
Coffee: Miracle Remedy

– More than three cups a day lowers women’s risk of developing the most common skin cancer by 20 percent.
– More than six cups a day cuts men’s risk of dying from prostate cancer by 60 percent.
– Drinking at least one cup of coffee a day lowers women’s risk of stroke by up to 25 percent.
– Consuming at least two cups daily reduces women’s chances of becoming depressed by up to 20 percent.

Drink it Black!

“Drink it black, or at most put a little skim milk in it” to minimize calories, Dr. Chopra recommends. The benefits from decaf may not be as prodigious, so stick with regular if you can tolerate the buzz. Dr. Chopra drinks at least four cups a day himself, though most people should limit themselves to two. And no, he jokes, “I’m not sponsored by Starbucks.”

More Information to Avoid Bugs

Want to avoid those itchy bug bites this summer? Insect repellent is your best defense. Look for one of these ingredients.

Deet

If you buy insect repellent, chances are it has DEET. According to a 2002 study, a product containing 23.8 per cent DEET provided five hours of protection from mosquito bites; 20 per cent DEET provided almost four hours.

DEET may be used on children who are older than 2 months, but adult supervision is required when applying the repellent to children. DEET shouldn’t be applied to young children’s hands, around the eyes or on the mouth. Don’t apply DEET at the same time as you apply sunscreen as well – it could result in a toxic buildup of Deet.

Picardin

The insect repellent ingredient Picardin is a newer one here, but has been used in Europe for years. Studies suggest it is as effective as DEET, with less risk of skin irritation. It’s an odourless repellent and is safe for infants and children as well.

Lemon eucalyptus oil

According to studies, this strong-smelling, natural repellent protects against mosquitoes, midges and ticks as effectively as repellents containing low concentrations of DEET. The downside is its effects last only about half as long, so you’ll need to reapply often.

Permethrin

Spray this product on your clothes, netting and bedding. Although it’s ineffective on skin, this plant-based repellent binds with fabric fibres to repel numerous insects, including ticks and mosquitoes. Using it together with a DEET repellent provides near 100 per cent protection against insect bites. One application lasts weeks.

Homemade Repellent

You can make your own repellent by mixing 15 to 20 drops of lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass and citronella essential oils, resulting in an ounce (25 millilitres) of carrier oil. Reapply often.
Want to avoid those itchy bug bites this summer? Insect repellent is your best defense. Look for one of these ingredients.

Deet

If you buy insect repellent, chances are it has DEET. According to a 2002 study, a product containing 23.8 per cent DEET provided five hours of protection from mosquito bites; 20 per cent DEET provided almost four hours.

DEET may be used on children who are older than 2 months, but adult supervision is required when applying the repellent to children. DEET shouldn’t be applied to young children’s hands, around the eyes or on the mouth. Don’t apply DEET at the same time as you apply sunscreen as well – it could result in a toxic buildup of Deet.

Picardin

The insect repellent ingredient Picardin is a newer one here, but has been used in Europe for years. Studies suggest it is as effective as DEET, with less risk of skin irritation. It’s an odourless repellent and is safe for infants and children as well.

Lemon eucalyptus oil

According to studies, this strong-smelling, natural repellent protects against mosquitoes, midges and ticks as effectively as repellents containing low concentrations of DEET. The downside is its effects last only about half as long, so you’ll need to reapply often.

Permethrin

Spray this product on your clothes, netting and bedding. Although it’s ineffective on skin, this plant-based repellent binds with fabric fibres to repel numerous insects, including ticks and mosquitoes. Using it together with a DEET repellent provides near 100 per cent protection against insect bites. One application lasts weeks.

Homemade Repellent

You can make your own repellent by mixing 15 to 20 drops of lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass and citronella essential oils, resulting in an ounce (25 millilitres) of carrier oil. Reapply often.

Know More About Coffe

Every other week, a new study is released that either demonizes or eulogizes coffee. Are there grounds for concern under the aromatic froth?

The Health Benefits of Coffee

Diabetes: A study of 14,000 people in Finland (the world’s greatest per-capita consumer of coffee) found that women who drank three to four cups a day cut their risk of developing diabetes by 29 per cent. For men, it was 27 per cent. Researchers aren’t sure why, but suspect that the antioxidants in coffee help deliver insulin to the body’s tissues.

Cancer: In Japan, a study of 90,000 people revealed those who drank coffee every day for ten years were half as likely to get liver cancer. Meanwhile, German scientists have identified an active compound in coffee called methylpyridinium that boosts enzymes thought to prevent colon cancer.

Parkinson’s Disease: Researchers in Hawaii monitored the health of more than 8,000 Japanese-American men for 30 years and discovered that those who drank a cup of coffee a day had less than half the incidence of Parkinson’s disease. A possible clue as to why: caffeine promotes the release of dopamine, a substance involved with movement and usually depleted in Parkinson’s sufferers.

Gallstones: A US study of 46,000 men who drank two to three cups of coffee a day over a ten-year period revealed they had a 40 percent lower risk of developing gallstones. Researchers believe it is because caffeine stimulates the gall bladder, flushing out substances that could turn into gallstones.

The Potentially Harmful Effects of Coffee

Heart Attack and Stroke: There’s hot debate on whether drinking coffee is a cardiac risk. A Greek study of more than 3,000 people found coffee drinkers had higher levels of inflammatory substances (which have been associated with increased rates of stroke and heart attack) in their blood than non-drinkers. But Harvard researchers looking at the health of coffee drinkers over 20 years could not pinpoint any extra coronary problems. Nevertheless, a study of 2028 Costa Ricans found those with a gene variant that processes caffeine four times slower than average, and who also drank two to three cups of coffee a day, upped their heart-attack risk by 36 per cent. As this group metabolises caffeine slower, it remains in the body for longer-possibly pushing up blood pressure.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Finnish study of 19,000 people revealed those who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers believe some as-yet-unidentified ingredient (particularly in unfiltered coffee) could trigger the disease.

Osteoporosis: A Californian study of 980 post-menopausal women found that those who drank two cups of coffee a day suffered a greater loss in bone density than those who didn’t. How come? Because caffeine acts as a diuretic, increasing the amount of calcium excreted in urine.

So… Is Coffee Healthy or Harmful?

For most of us, the humble cup of coffee is simply a harmless and enjoyable way to kick-start the day or give us an excuse for some time out. No more, no less. However, it is important to remember that different people exhibit different tolerance levels to caffeine-it is, after all, a drug.

So, while a mid-morning cappuccino will give one person a pleasant buzz, it could make another person edgy and irritable. To play it safe, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Whatever your choice-espresso or latte-keep a watch on your consumption for the sake of both your short-term and long-term health.

Steps to Eat Like a Dentist

hh2Ever consider that one of the reasons dentists have such healthy teeth is because they eat nutritiously? We talked to Dr. Euan Swan, manager of dental programs at the Canadian Dental Association, about eating habits that help keep pearly whites in perfect health.

Enjoy Sweets in Moderation

It’s common knowledge that sugar contributes to tooth decay. What many people don’t know, however, is that the frequency and duration of exposure makes a difference.

“I’ll enjoy desserts, chocolate cake and all those things, within moderation, but then I make sure that after the meal I rinse my mouth with water or chew a piece of sugarless gum,” says Dr. Swan, who acknowledges that brushing after every meal and snack is not realistic for most people. “When you have sugars in your mouth, bacteria digests those sugars and produces acids. It’s the duration of the acid attack that contributes to tooth decay.”

If you like candy, minimize the damage to your teeth by eating it quickly, rather than spreading it throughout your day, says Dr. Swan. “Generally speaking, having one candy in your mouth for several minutes is not the end of the world, but having one and then another and another over a long period of time would be an issue.”

Avoid Soft Drinks

Dentists avoid sugary, acidic beverages, which slowly wear down tooth enamel. The biggest culprit: Soft drinks. A 330-mL can of pop contains a whopping 10 teaspoons (about 50 mL) of sugar. According to Dietitians of Canada, a large soft drink from a fast-food restaurant contains about a third of a cup (85 mL) of sugar. And Canadians love their pop: Each year, we each drink about 110 litres of the stuff. Do your mouth a favour and cut back. (And don’t think you’re safe with diet soda-it’s sugar-free but still acidic.)

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol is also acidic and can contribute to tooth erosion. Knowing this won’t stop anyone from enjoying a glass of shiraz with dinner, of course, so Dr. Swan suggests taking measures to counteract the acidity. “If you’re a wine drinker, you should probably have a piece of cheese to help neutralize the acid in your mouth, or have a glass of water or chew gum.”

Steer Clear of Sticky Foods

Sticky foods hang around in the mouth longer. Sweets such as toffee and gummy candy are obvious offenders, but healthier choices, such as dried fruit, can also cause problems. “Raisins are nutritious, but they and other dried foods can stick to your teeth,” as can foods such as breads and doughnuts, says Dr. Swan. (People who have braces or orthodontic work should be especially careful to avoid sticky foods, which can damage brace wires and brackets.)

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily and see your dentist regularly to reduce your chances of tooth decay.

Eat Soft Foods

We’ve all heard horror stories about people biting hard foods and breaking off a piece of tooth. You’re most likely to experience this problem if you have large fillings. “If you’re biting down on hard food-nuts, perhaps-there’s a risk that a portion of the enamel is going to break away from the side of the tooth,” says Dr. Swan.

Avoid very hard foods and don’t chew ice. If you do break a tooth, get yourself to the dentist as soon as you can.