We sing coffee’s praises because daily consumption keeps your blood vessels flexible and lowers your stroke risk by 30 percent. It also cuts the risk of early death by 18 percent in women and 3 percent in men. Plus, 3 cups a day may help you dodge some cancers, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Type 2 diabetes. And now a recent study has found that residents of the Greek island of Icaria, where they have the longest lifespan in the world, owe their longevity in part to the boiled Greek coffee they drink every day.
If you want those good effects from your morning joe, remember, when it comes to coffee/caffeine, there’s no one-cup-fits-all recommendation. Some folks say that drinking several cups makes them sleepy. Others complain of the shakes from just one cup (harmless, but disconcerting). And a caffeine overdose can trigger everything from heart palpitations to insomnia, migraines, vomiting and diarrhea. But for most healthy adults, two to three cups of brewed coffee a day deliver the benefits of caffeine (brain focus, muscle endurance and reduced inflammation). The brew also contains heart-loving antioxidants and phenols – they’re in decaf, too. There are few risks beyond yellow teeth and bad breath.
Making your surgery safer with what you eat
Scheduled for surgery? What you eat in the weeks before the procedure may have a substantial influence on the outcome. If you make smart choices, you’ll slash your risk for complications from anesthesia and postoperative infection, nerve and tissue damage and even heart attack.
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Overweight and obese people – that’s 60 percent of U.S. adults – have poorer outcomes from any medical procedure. Why? Cutting through fatty tissue triggers a major inflammatory response throughout your body, and the more fat you’re packing, the greater the inflammation. But in the weeks before surgery, if you cut calories and reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat (from four-legged animals and poultry skin, plus palm and coconut oils), you may cool existing inflammation and make a better recovery.
The Plan: Surgery more than a month away? Give yourself a total exercise and food makeover: Step out daily – heading for 10,000 steps a day. Trouble walking? Try water exercises. Next, eliminate the five food felons from your diet: added sugar, sugar syrups, all trans fats, most saturated fats and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole. Stick with fish, skinless poultry and lots of veggies and fruits. Our guidelines provide 15 to 20 percent of your daily calories from healthful omega fatty acids – specifically, omega-3, -7 and -9.
If surgery is less than a month away, try to reduce your fat intake (no saturated or trans) to around 10 to 15 percent of your total calories until after the procedure. Then, as soon as you can get walking, start your long-term makeover.
Make sure you don’t get diabetes
Out of the 79 million Americans with borderline high blood sugar levels (that’s prediabetes), only 11 percent of you know you’re careening toward diabetes. And that’s a real shame, because you can protect yourself from the damage caused by rising blood sugar levels: heart disease, vision and kidney problems, nerve damage, sexual dysfunction, depression and dementia.
But first you have to know you’re at risk. Ask your doctor for an A1C blood test, an accurate snapshot of your average glucose level in the past few months. If your results are 5.7 to 6.4 percent, that means you have prediabetes. If so, it’s time to:
1. Reduce your body weight 5 to 7 percent by upgrading your diet and walking every day; the goal is 10,000 steps a day. You’ll slash your diabetes risk by 58 percent.
2. Eliminate the five food felons from your diet: added sugar, sugar syrups, saturated fat, all trans fats and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole.
Olive you most of oil
You know about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (low in saturated fats, high in vegetables and healthy oils). Its heart-loving, waist-trimming effects help keep skin wrinkle-free, the liver and immune system humming and your sex life lively. Well, research has now pinpointed an additional advantage. One of the components of extra-virgin olive oil, called oleocanthal, ups the production of proteins and enzymes that KO amyloid tangles – those thought-scattering nerve blockers that characterize Alzheimer’s disease. And get a load of this: Like ibuprofen, oleocanthal is a COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitor (it cools inflammation and pain), and milligram for milligram, ibuprofen and oleocanthal have about equal potency.
So when you dress your salad, flavor your Brussels sprouts (don’t forget garlic and lemon, too) or marinate your fish, think extra-virgin olive oil or “EVOO,” as Rachael Ray likes to say. (Stick with EVOO from California: Studies show that only 14 percent of imported extra-virgins meet international standards, but 90 percent of California’s do.) Remember: When you cook with EVOO, don’t overheat; keep it below 365 degrees or so; above that, chemical changes make it unhealthy.