Posted on : 18-09-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Food safety, Unhealthy
I’ve just returned from ‘school pick-up’ – that time of day when mums and dads gather at the school gates to collect their children and gossip. My mind was on energy drinks and as I chatted to a friend about writing this story another mum interrupted me. “Are you talking about those energy shots?” she asked. “They are terrible. My daughter was at a disco last week and a boy gave her a Demon shot to drink. It wiped her out. She became really nauseous and shaky. It gave her and her friends a big fright.” No wonder! That innocent looking 60ml bottle that anyone can buy at the local store or service station contains 200mg of caffeine. That’s more than a double shot espresso!
How many people do you know who drink double strength coffee with 10 sugars? I don’t know any. But I do know that thousands of people are getting exactly that when they drink certain ‘energy drinks’. Some are artificially sweetened – like the Demon shot mentioned above – but plenty are packed with sugar to add to the ‘energy’ boost you experience.
… continued from part 1 …
Think like a pot plant! That’s the message a dietitian colleague of mine tells older people – water yourself well and get out into the sunlight.
Getting some sun
Just half an hour of activity outside each day is enough not only to keep reasonably fit and toned but also to allow our skin to make its own vitamin D. Older people have about one-quarter the ability to produce vitamin D compared to younger people so it is important to get some sun exposure each day. It’s the sun that causes the skin to make vitamin D. Vitamin D helps carry calcium into the bones to keep them strong. It’s also important for your immune system. Sitting in a sunroom behind glass won’t do it. If at all possible, get up and take a walk around the garden for 30 minutes. Older people who can’t get outside each day may need a low dose (10ug a day) vitamin D supplement. But too much can be toxic so check with your doctor before taking a supplement.
As we age we lose our sensitivity to thirst. On top of not feeling thirsty some older people deliberately drink less to avoid embarrassing moments of incontinence. This drying out of the body can lead to headaches, constipation and more concentrated (even toxic) medication levels. It’s important to drink fluids even when you don’t feel thirsty, especially in hot weather. With some medication, the doctor may tell you to restrict fluids but for everyone else it’s good to drink enough to keep your urine clear – about eight glasses of water a day. If that much water sounds too daunting fill a two litre jug with water, add sliced lemon and ice, and drink slowly over the day. Or have a few cups of herbal or green tea. Green tea has more antioxidants and less caffeine than black tea.
Fruit juice also counts as fluid and is good for people who need to gain weight or have no appetite. A glass of unsweetened juice has about three teaspoons of sugar (mostly from the fruit) along with vitamins and antioxidants, depending on the variety. Too much coffee and alcohol causes dehydration. However a study of almost 6000 people aged over 65 found that those who had 7-10 alcoholic drinks a week (not all in one session!) had a third less risk of heart failure compared with abstainers. Maybe it’s due to the relaxing effect of a glass of wine with a meal each night!
Part 3 tommorrow…
Posted on : 09-07-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Drinks
My favourite coffee is a bowl of trim latte from Zarbos – a popular deli in Auckland. A bowl? Yes it really is a bowl with no handle. Double shot coffee and lots of reduced fat milk served with a tiny morsel of chocolate brownie on the side – yum! All that milk gives me about a third of my daily calcium needs and at least 200mg caffeine to keep me hyped for the rest of the day. A teaspoon of instant coffee has about 80mg caffeine and tea has less. Health experts recommend we drink no more than 3 or 4 cups of coffee a day. One bowl of latte would almost meet the daily limit!
People vary in their sensitivity to coffee and caffeine – the stimulant in coffee, tea and cocoa. For some people, even one cup of coffee will set their heart racing and their hands trembling. And caffeine isn’t the only substance in coffee that people can be sensitive to.
I am currently on a self-imposed coffee restriction to alleviate arthritis in my hand. Cut the coffee and the arthritis goes. I’ve limited myself to one a week – although I don’t always stick to it! When I first worked out this coffee – arthritis link I could find no research proving it. But in the past 10 years a number of studies have found a link between excessive coffee intake and an increase in arthritic factor – a precursor to arthritis – in people who are genetically pre-disposed. Without any genetic tests I could guess that I have the coffee sensitive gene. I don’t think researchers have yet found the exact substance in coffee that causes this problem.
So now I am drinking mostly tea – black tea for breakfast, earl grey tea in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and chamomile at night. Nothing like a bit of variety! It’s likely doing wonders for my health – all those antioxidants. But I do miss meeting friends for coffee – the smell, the milky froth swirled into the shape of a leaf and the sublime flavour when it’s made properly. It just doesn’t seem right to pay $3 for a lonely tea bag floating in a pot of boiling water. I may as well stay home and write on my blog!
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How do you like your coffee?
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