Q: My 13-year old daughter has been hanging out after school with friends at the local coffee shop. I’m concerned because I’ve heard that drinking coffee isn’t healthy for children and teens. After reading your recent article on the health benefits of coffee, I don’t know what to think. Could you weigh in on this? ~ Juanita, Montrose, CO
A: I’m glad you asked, Juanita. And the answer, of course, is everything in moderation. Too much coffee – at any age – is not a good thing, mainly because of the caffeine content. The FDA has determined that up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is fine for adults; unfortunately, it has set no specific guidelines for kids and teenagers. However, Health Canada has recommended no more than 2.5 mg/kg of body weight. So a teen who weighs in at 125 lbs, should not drink more than 140 mg of caffeine per day. To put that into perspective, here is the caffeine content in common beverages:
- Starbucks grande coffee – 330 mg
- Brewed coffee (8 oz) – 163 mg
- Red Bull – 80 mg
- Mountain Dew – 54 mg
- Iced Tea – 47 mg
- Pepsi – 38 mg
- Coca Cola – 34 mg
- Chocolate Milk – 5 mg
- 7-Up – 0 mg
Excess caffeine consumption can cause jitteriness and sleep deprivation – which obviously isn’t a good thing for kids or adults. But it can also lead to behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and difficulty in concentration with kids and teens. Also, coffee should definitely not be substituted for nutritionally healthier beverages such as milk and water. One other thing – because coffee is a diuretic and increases urination, this can lead to dehydration. Even worse, increased urination causes loss of calcium, which can lead to bone loss, since calcium is essential for bone growth. That old wives’ tale that coffee drinking will stunt one’s growth – well, maybe it’s not an old wives’ tale after all.
Forbidding your daughter from drinking coffee will only make her want to drink it more. My advice is that you encourage her to drink it, as well as all caffeinated, high-sugar beverages, only occasionally, in moderation – and not as substitutes for healthier beverages, especially water. You might even take it one step further and suggest that she and her friends take up active after school hobbies like intramural sports, biking, or even walking around the mall.
Today was National Coffee Day. Actually, I celebrate national coffee day every day – but yesterday I enjoyed a whole lot of company in that commemoration. In fact, some 54% of the population in the United States drinks coffee on a daily basis. Lucky for all of us – half a dozen coffee joints from McDonalds to Dunkin’ Donuts distributed free cups of coffee to anyone who asked. And since there’s been a bit of buzz lately about the assorted health benefits of coffee, I decided to pack up my iPad and do some research while enjoying various and sundry free cups of jo all over town.
One of my first surprises lay in the discovery that coffee is actually a fruit. Specifically, the coffee bean is extracted from the cherry fruit. Who knew? And interestingly enough, the longer coffee is roasted, the weaker is the strength and impact of its caffeine, so that darker roasts deliver less caffeine than lighter roasts. I love the lighter roasts, which just might explain why I come across as being somewhat hyper.
Okay, very hyper.
During the 17th century in England, coffee houses were known as “penny universities” where a cup of coffee cost a penny and engaging conversation was held. Come to think of it, this might be where the expression “a penny for your thoughts” originated.
Coffee itself, before all the cream and sugar are added, boasts some surprising health benefits:
- The smell of coffee alone provides an olfactory-approved aromatherapy.
- Folks who drink 4-cups of coffee a day are less likely to have health issues such as certain cancers, stokes, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
- The caffeine in coffee, when not ingested in high quantities, can be quite beneficial to some. However, decaf may be healthier for those who need to watch their caffeine intake because it raises blood pressure and epinephrine known as adrenaline.
- Coffee is rich in magnesium and chromium, which help the body regulate insulin.
- Studies have shown that drinking coffee can reduce the severity of symptoms in people who suffer from poor eyesight and tinnitus.
- Coffee drinkers report experiencing improved mental acuity, and thus, improved performance at work, school or sports.
- Drinking coffee is a very social and calming activity for some and therefore throwing down a cup or two opens the door to conversation and relaxation. For many, day without coffee is a day without sunshine.
- Coffee aids “” Drinking coffee seems to stimulate the muscles of one’s colon.
Are there any negatives to drinking coffee? Well, if you’re drinking coffee in public, make sure you know where the restrooms are. Coffee is very effective as a diuretic. Coffee also contains acids which can irritate the lining of the stomach, therefore causing upset – so, know your limits. Finally, adding the “extras” (i.e., creams, sugars) into your coffee rings up quite the caloric punch, so beware!
I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to give up coffee. My morning brew is like warm hug from a good friend on a cold day. How I do LOVE my coffee!
This “spooktacular” 5K, on Friday, October 17, is Denver’s only nighttime Halloween race and delivers fun for the entire family. After the race, enjoy ghoulishly delicious goodies on Trick-or-Treat Street.
- Best individual
- Best family
- Best group (minimum of 4)
- Best child
- Best pet
- Best Scream Team (for those registered as a Scream Team)
Your event registration will include wonderful swag, including a Scream Scram t-shirt and goodie bag. But the best part is that proceeds from the race will go to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.
Click here to register the 2014 Scream Scram, on October 17, 6:00 p.m. at Denver’s Washington Park. What creative costume will you wear?
Many years ago I happened to mention to Coach Stacy that I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in decades. Several days later she showed up at my condo with a brand new bike. Well, not entirely brand new. Both of its tires were flat and the seat needed to be replaced. The brakes were suspect and the chain was rusty and nearly useless.
But it was new to me. Coach had spied it at a garage sale near her home. At the end of the day her neighbors told her she could have the bike for free if she’d just take the thing off their hands. A couple of hundred dollars later the bike was good to go. And so we did.
I vividly remember that sweet taste of liberty when I climbed back into the saddle and began cruising after a 30-year hiatus. Utter elation. Two bikes and plenty of pedaling later, I still look forward to riding. The bonus is that cycling – whether for competition or pleasure – is one of the healthiest forms of exercise a body can pursue, and more and more folks are cycling their way to good health. Here are 10 good reasons why you, too, should start pedaling:
- Biking is a low-impact activity – therefore it’s gentler on the joints than, say, running or walking.
- Easy to learn, biking is an excellent form of physical activity that can be enjoyed by novices and elite randonneurs alike.
- Bike riding is a full-body workout that helps you build strength as well as improve muscle tone.
- Because it raises the metabolic rate, biking also helps you burn calories and lose weight.
- Riding a bike is an excellent way to improve balance and coordination.
- Bicycling is a natural immunity booster and therefore assists in warding off everything from the common cold to cancer.
- Your heart and lungs will thank you – biking is a terrific all-around cardiovascular exercise.
- As with any form of physical activity, bike riding improves cognitive functions and memory.
- You can toss the anti-depressants since bicycling has also been linked to reduced anxiety, depression and stress.
- Studies have shown that people sleep better if bicycling is incorporated into each day.
- Bike riding is efficient and green. You can knock off your cardio while commuting to work – without contributing to car emission problems.
Summer’s winding down and there are plenty of glorious fall days on the horizon. Why not hop on a bike and go for a spin? Your body will surely thank you!
Q: Your recent post on yoga interested me because I, too, have been under a lot of stress lately and think I’d like to try yoga for its calming benefits. Unfortunately, one of my stresses has to do with my finances and it seems as though yoga is fairly expensive, not only for the classes, but the equipment too. What would you say are “must haves” in terms of gear for someone just starting out in yoga? ~ Giselle – Parker, CO
A: Actually, Giselle, you’re in luck, because “essential” yoga gear is relatively minimal. And it makes sense – since yoga, after all, has been around for thousands of years, long before Lululemon was around. Yoga is an exercise for mind, body and spirit, so that’s really all you need. But if you can swing it financially, there are just a few items that will make learning yoga a little easier:
- Yoga Mat – one that’s around ¼ inch thick so that you have some cushioning on hard surfaces. Your mat will serve to define your space for poses as well as provide traction so that you don’t slip. Some studios provide mats, but for $20-$30 you can buy your own and not have to share perspiration with the yogi who was in class before you.
- Yoga Blocks – a helpful prop that will assist with correct alignment and for poses for which you can’t, as a beginner, reach the floor with your hands.
- Yoga Straps – which are especially helpful for beginners who aren’t yet terribly flexible. The straps assist with an assortment of poses for which your arms and legs aren’t long or limber enough.
- Comfortable, Breathable Clothing – nothing fancy, but the kind that allows for a full range of motion, without revealing “too much.” You’ll want to avoid super “slick” pants that are made of Lycra or similar fabrics, as these might cause you to slip.
The last thing in the world you’ll want to do is cause yourself more stress over expensive yoga gear. Most discount stores like Target and Walmart will have reasonably priced equipment and clothing that will fit your needs. Namaste, Giselle, and good luck!
~ Rod Stewart
So, this is how Coach Stacy and I began our ill-fated yoga journey.
Coach Stacy’s motivation was prescribed by her physician. Following several months of intense work stress, which turned into a nasty case of shingles, Coach’s doctor said, “You’ve simply got to find a way to decompress. You can either try yoga or I can put you on an industrial strength antidepressant. Your choice.”
Ever the proponent of physical activity, Coach chose yoga.
My road to nirvana was somewhat less stringent. Shortly after arriving home from work one evening, Coach called and said, “Put your shorts on. We’re going to yoga.” I chose the path of least resistance and put my shorts on.
An hour later, sweating profusely in a second story studio in which the thermostat was set at 105 degrees, I wondered what sort of evil I’d performed in my life that would cast me into this hideous hell. Apparently, Bikram Yoga was meant for neither the feint of heart nor the yoga newbie. Afterwards, Coach Stacy was uncharacteristically quiet, other than the barely audible grumble, “If I’d wanted to relax in 105 degree heat, I’d have moved back to Texas.”
“Maybe we should do a little research – you know, see what other kinds of yoga are out there. Like maybe yoga that’s, um, a little more relaxing.”
Always the librarian am I – calm, cool and painstakingly rational. However, the truth of the matter was that I was trying to buy time. After my near death by sauna, an innate survival instinct had kicked in and I was hoping to live to see my 55th birthday.
Yoga, it turns out, has been around for thousands of years, a development of ancient India. Long considered somewhat esoteric here in the U.S., yoga has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, from 4.3 devotees in 2001 to an astounding 16.5 million in 2013. And for good reason. According to the Yoga Health Foundation, the art has been known to cure everything from migraines to irritable bowel syndrome. Yoga has also been known to cause decreases in:
- Stress, anxiety and depression
- Blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate
- Hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause
- Food cravings leading to obesity
“I started yoga 35 years ago when I was having serious back discomfort due to scoliosis. Twice a week yoga classes with slow, sustained movements and stretching now keep me limber and pain free. I also enjoy the relaxation at the end of the class period,” says Sara James, a Denver area tax consultant.
Then again, others practice yoga to enhance athletic performance. Joe Rippin, a corporate attorney, decided to try yoga to complement his passion for half marathons. After having plateaued in his running times, he turned to yoga to up his game. “I’ve noticed much greater flexibility in my running stride as well as increased control and focus on my breathing when I’m running.” Joe has since set two personal records and is looking forward to the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll later this month.
These health perks were hard to overlook, so Coach Stacy and I decided to give yoga another go. Someone suggested we try Hatha yoga, which we were told, was good for beginners, not to mention the fact that classes were conveniently held at our local gym.
Our session started out innocuously enough with a few gentle and straightforward asanas (poses) – Tree, Warrior, Downward Dog. We even had props like blocks and slanted foam cushions to help us maintain alignment. It was all well and good and I decided that I rather liked yoga. Until the chanting commenced. Which led to uncontrollable fits of giggling. And then our unceremonious expulsion from Hatha yoga class, that night and forevermore.
Next up was Restorative yoga, which presented itself as a practice involving a lot less work and a lot more relaxation. After a particularly busy and hectic week, this Friday evening class seemed, at first blush, the perfect panacea to the previous five days’ stress. The Restorative classes were held in a quiet office studio with pale blue walls, subdued lighting, lavender eye pillows and soft blankies – sheer bliss. Until the lady on the mat next to Coach Stacy started snoring. Softly at first. Then with such increasing intensity and reverberating vigor, Coach ultimately threw in the blankie.
“I’m outa here,” she hissed. And just like that, our Restorative yoga experiment was over.
Weeks later, we haven’t entirely given up on our quest for Good Karma. After all, in my initial research I discovered fifty different flavors of yoga. We still have 47 more flavors to try:
- Kali Ray TriYoga
- White Lotus
- Phoenix Rising
- Doga (Dog Yoga)
- Shinsin Tōitsu Dō
- Surat Shabd
- TriBalance Hot Yoga
- Moksha Modo
- Yoga for Athletes
This could take a while…