North Americans love coffee: Canada has 40 Starbucks for every million residents. That beats the U.S., where there are around 36 locations per million people. And Hispanics are the most coffee-loving: 76 percent of adult Hispanics say they drank coffee in the past 24 hours, while 64 percent of whites and 47 percent of blacks make that claim.
There are lots of good reasons to love drinking coffee. If you’re a fast caffeine metabolizer (you don’t get a headache, heart flutters, an upset tummy or anxiety from caffeinated coffee), it can help you reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, improve mental focus, enhance consolidation of long-term memory and fuel good gut bacteria (those guys rule your health in so many ways).
So it’s not a surprise that someone came up with the really bad idea that pure powdered caffeine could deliver even more of the brew’s benefits. Wrong. It’s all risk and no reward. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a consumer health advisory to avoid pure powdered caffeine products. Why? Well, a single teaspoon equals 25 cups of coffee. And depending on your age, weight and sensitivity, 1 to 2 teaspoons can trigger a rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, stupor, disorientation – even death.
So for an energy boost, stick with a morning cup or three of joe, or caffeinated water. Fuel your day with seven to eight hours of sleep every night, and you’ll have the concentration and clarity of mind to excel at whatever challenge you’re facing. That’s all reward, no risk.
Do it in the morning (and feel energized all day)
Physical activity in the morning helps reduce blood pressure during the day and boosts brain power (cognitive function and mental acuity) for four to 10 hours. You also rev up your metabolism, so you burn more calories all day and have a sounder, deeper sleep that night. In addition, getting active in the morning makes it easier to stick with your workout schedule; several studies show that more than 90 percent of the most consistent exercisers do it in the morning.
One of Dr. Mike’s favorite early-morning routines is interval training, especially when you are pressed for time. It’s a great way to make sure you burn calories, increase cardio fitness and reap all the other benefits – and still make it to work on time. In a walking routine, he suggests, you walk fast enough for four minutes to start sweating; return to a slower pace for three minutes; repeat the cycle for 30 minutes. Doesn’t that feel great? And if you were thinking about doing something else aerobic for a little cardio action in the morning, that’s good for body and soul, too.
Intake control for clean plate club members
When Leonardo da Vinci painted “The Last Supper” around 1492, the food on the table (including eel with orange slices) was pretty sparse, and the dishes were small. But, according to a study of 52 of the best-known renditions of that occasion, the more recent paintings show entrees that are 69 percent larger than in earlier depictions and serving plates that are 66 percent larger.
Any surprise that people have gotten larger, too? Seventy percent of North Americans are now overweight or obese. One reason: The super-sized supper dishes and heaps of food on them make it difficult to limit your intake. That’s because, according to a new study – young or old, male or female, from North America or halfway around the globe – most adults eat 92 percent of whatever is on their plate.
So if you’re looking to cut your calorie intake and lose weight (1 pound a week), we suggest you burn an extra 200 calories a day (if you weigh 150, that’s walking three 20-minute miles) and eliminate around 300 calories by shrinking the plate and eating leaner.
For breakfast: Use a bowl that holds 1 cup of whole-grain cereal and 1/2 cup of skim milk. For supper, go with a 6- to 8-inch plate; fill one-third with one layer of lean protein (about 3 to 6 ounces) and the rest with 1/2 to 1 cup of whole grains and around 2 cups of veggies. Then, even if you clean your plate, you’ll be on track for a healthier weight and a better brain.
No raw deal for your pet
Professional wrestler Daniel Bryan got a RAW (Real Action Wrestling) deal when he was kicked out of the WWE for fake-strangling a ring announcer. But he re-emerged the next year and in 2012 won the WWE United States Championship and an award from PETA for being the “Most Animal-Friendly Athlete.” Seems when it comes to professional wrestling, a raw deal is good for your career – and your status as an animal lover. But the latest raw trend in pet food is definitely not. So it’s time for a Raw Pet Diet Smackdown.
Raw pet food often contains meat, bones and organs that are easily contaminated with salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes – bacteria that are dangerous for pets and pet owners. You both can end up with nausea, diarrhea and fever. For the elderly, young children, pregnant women and the immuno-compromised, these infections can be life-threatening.
If you’re concerned about additives or lack of nutrition in packaged pet foods, try cooking up a hearty mix of grains, protein and veggies for your pet. Ask your vet what supplements to add and how best to prepare them. Dogs need a good supply of calcium balanced with phosphorus and a ratio of between 5-10 (for omega-6’s) to 1 (for omega-3’s) in their diet. Cats can’t make enough of the amino acid taurine to keep their eyes and heart healthy. So no raw deals here. Every type of pet has unique nutritional needs; work with your vet to find the right recipe for a well-cooked plate of love.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.