The Ups and Downs of Caffeine

Caffeine often gets mixed reviews regarding its health effects. It has been found that when it is consumed in moderate amounts (<400 mg/day) it will cause no adverse health effects in adults and in fact can offer several health benefits. However, when caffeine is combined with other ingredients to make energy products like soft drinks and energy drinks, the benefits can be overtaken by the poor effects of other added ingredients.

How Caffeine Works: Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical stimulant called trimethylxanthine. When consumed, it blocks adenosine receptors in the brain which are important in the process of sleep. By blocking this process, it has the reverse effect and makes you feel awake or more alert. Caffeine also effects dopamine production which is a neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure centers in your brain, which can result in an improved mood.

Ups of Caffeine:

  • Heightened alertness
  • Increased memory
  • Increased concentration
  • Improved mood
  • Improved reaction time and logical reasoning
  • Increased stamina during exercise
  • Helps treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s, dementia, cataracts, asthma, headaches/migraines and depression
  • Helps decrease the risk of kidney stones, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, gallstones, cirrhosis, and some cancers

Downs of Caffeine:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns/insomnia
  • Increased anxiety
  • Caffeine dependence/addiction

Coffee and tea have natural occurring sources of caffeine. When consumed in moderation and in their pure form, both are great sources and when combined with other natural occurring antioxidants can have many health benefits. However, when you begin to add additional ingredients, like sugar (including artificial sweeteners) and creamer, your tea or coffee can go from a healthy drink to the opposite if added in abundance.

As for energy drinks and soft drinks, caffeine is not naturally found in these but instead added during the production process along with a number of other artificial flavors. While energy drinks and soft drinks may have comparable amounts of caffeine to tea or coffee, the sugar content is much higher to provide an instant energy stimulant.

Sugar-free or diet drinks are no exception. To make up for the lack of sugar, artificial sweeteners are added to the drinks and can be just as bad or worse than sugar. When consumed on a regular basis, the added sugars and sugar substitutes in soft drinks and energy drinks can eventually lead to health conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Along with the added sugar, energy drinks and soft drinks also include ingredients like phosphoric acid, aspartame and artificial coloring which can lead to other health concerns like heart and kidney problems, tooth decay, muscle loss and osteoporosis.

Sources:

WebMD

Mayo Clinic

 

A Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we are talking about hearts: both the romantic and literal kind. This Valentine’s Day, try focusing on taking care of your heart by not only expressing your love but also making some healthier choices to make you stronger and healthier.

Don’t be Seduced by Unhealthy Meals: Instead of flirting with sugary and fatty temptations, show your love that you care by cooking a heart-healthy meal that is not only simple but also delicious. Check out our Pinterest board for some heart-healthy recipes.

Get Active for 30 Minutes: Before going out for the traditional dinner and movie night, get active with your partner by going for a walk or doing a partner workout. You could also go out dancing instead of sitting down to a long and heavy meal. For some great partner exercises, check out ACE Fitness. Valentine's 2-13-15

Why A Team Effort Will Help You Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others succeed.” –Napoleon Hill

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If you are looking for extra motivation to stay active and healthy this year, then I encourage you to unite with others throughout Colorado in the Weigh and Win ‘Spring Into Action’ Team Challenge! Joining a team has been shown to boost success, maximize individual strengths, minimize barriers and boost enjoyment. That’s right; weight improvement isn’t only an enjoyable experience but it can be a lasting lifestyle change for the future!

Teamwork has been calculated as ‘one plus one equals three.’  It is true that many can find success in improving their health on their own; however, with the additional support of a team some are able to accomplish even more than they could by themselves. This concept of synergy or collaboration is how teams achieve success. Think about it, even Payton Manning can’t win championships all on his own!

Results show that a typical, successful Weigh and Win participant loses an average of 17.7 pounds over a one year period. A successful member in the Team Challenge loses an average of 20.3 pounds and a team captain loses 22.3 pounds. By teaming up with others in the Weigh and Win program, you can work with like-minded participants towards a common goal of weight improvement and better health.

Individual weaknesses can be minimized through the efforts of a team. The motivation to stick to healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating better quality foods and getting more sleep, can be troublesome for those beginning. The good news is, overtime small changes become habit and finding motivation once you have habits in place is usually less of an issue.  Until then, having the support of friends and family members is vital to reach success. In the Team Challenge, you have email access to communicate with other team members that might be able to offer you support and guidance in the areas you are seeking help. Of course you always have access to your Weigh and Win Health Coaches via email and phone, but you might find that talking to a teammate that is in the same position as you can be truly empowering.

The fun factor of friendly competition against other teams throughout Colorado is also shown to keep participants engaged for success. Studies show that joining a team can reduce the stress that we tend to put on ourselves in individual circumstances. Also many of us are competitive by nature so we enjoy a little competition with others. At your worksite, see if you can create multiple teams for friendly competition at work!

Make your weight improvement journey a successful and enjoyable experience by participating in the Weigh and Win ‘Spring Into Action’ Team Challenge! To join or create a team, login to your Weigh and Win account and click on the ‘Challenge’ tab in the top blue tool bar then select ‘Team Challenge’ from the drop down list. If you are in need of motivation for long-term results this year, you are only a few clicks away! Gather your teams and join the Challenge here: http://bit.ly/1Eqjp2N. Ready… Set… GO!