Friday, February 17, 2017

GUEST POST: Can Caffeine Really Benefit Your Health?

As always, guest posts are always welcome on my blog, especially ones about coffee! So, please enjoy this post by Faith Munsell...

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It seems highly unlikely that coffee, such a delectable, caffeinated miracle can prove to be good for you, as such is typically the case with most other delicious pick-me-ups.

Coffee can actually benefit your health—however, like anything else, it is only helpful if used moderately. ‘Moderation’ differs between people, and added health problems can determine just how much caffeine is safe for your body. For instance, our heart centre patients that present with heart disease might strain their hearts by drinking multiple cups of coffee in one day (or in one sitting). Therefore, if you do have an underlying health issue, it’s critical that you speak with your doctor about just how much caffeine is safe for you.


7 Ways Coffee Can Benefit Your Health

     
There are copious ways in which coffee can contribute to overall balanced health.

1. It Counters Diabetes

A Harvard study discovered a connection among the lowering of blood sugar (which can cause Type 2 diabetes in high amounts) and moderate coffee intake. Surprisingly enough, this has nothing to do with caffeine—in fact, decaffeinated coffee had a larger effect. Researchers accredit this to the antioxidants that decrease blood sugar levels.

2. It Extends Your Life

Harvard conducted another study that showed those who drank anywhere between 3 and 5 cups of coffee on a daily basis (in literal cups—not enormous mugs) “may be less likely to die prematurely from some illnesses than those who don’t drink or drink less coffee.” It’s likely that this is because of the cardiovascular benefits, lowering of blood sugar, and the addition of antioxidants. As a heart centre, we at Slidell Memorial Hospital completely recognise the value of food and drink packed with antioxidants like coffee.

3. It Elevates Your Mood

A happy body stems from a happy mind, and coffee is excellent when it comes to lifting your mood. There are several studies stating that it elevates your dopamine and decreases depression, although, for some, the mood elevation stems from the scrumptious hot drink and the relaxation that accompanies it.

4. Antioxidants

Whether decaffeinated or caffeinated, coffee is packed with antioxidants. These disease-conquering miracle workers aid in counteracting the oxidative effects leading to numerous diseases (as well as Type 2 diabetes) such as macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and other chronic diseases.

5. It Protects Against Some Cancers

It is important to note that coffee does not prevent cancer, although it can help guard you against specific types with its protective functions. Moderate coffee intake has proven in certain studies to fight off some cancers such as colon cancer, prostate cancer, and endometrial cancer.

6. It Protects Your Heart

You can improve your endothelial function by drinking just a couple of cups per day. This is important because it helps ward off heart attacks and strokes, and faulty endothelial functioning could land you in our heart centre. Coffee can help guard you against cardiovascular disease as well. Although this appears to work better for women than men, both genders are able to lower their risk of cardiovascular events and disease with controlled coffee intake (green tea also works wonders).

7. It Boosts Your Liver

Your liver really is the unsung hero of your body. While the brain and heart receive the majority of the news coverage, a healthy liver provides numerous crucial bodily functions.

According to recent studies, coffee seems to be hepatoprotective, although only when it is filtered. Filtered coffee removes cafestol and kahweol that espresso and other unfiltered coffee do not (this can lead to fatty liver disease—particularly when mixed with alcohol).

Now you know—coffee can positively benefit the body in numerous healthy ways. However, we cannot stress enough that this is only the case when drunk moderately. Another crucial point to note is that candy disguised as coffee is incredibly bad for your health. For instance, there are a monstrous 40 grammes of sugar in a Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks. Even worse, there are 48 grammes in their bottled Dark Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino. If you are considering replacing your caffeine dose with a hot chocolate, one of Starbucks’ worst offenders is their white hot chocolate—with a near-lethal 62 grammes of sugar.

All in all, when taken in moderation, coffee can be healthy so long as you steer clear of the overly sugary options.

Written by Faith Munsell from Slidell Memorial Hospital Health Blog

Disclaimer,

The scientific and medical opinions expressed within guest blog posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Crystals and Catalysts (Mariam). The accuracy and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Crystals and Catalysts (Mariam) is not liable for any errors or representations.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

My experience at the science communication primer



It has been a couple of months since I attended the science communication primer, held by the British Science Association, and I wasn’t originally going to review the day, but I thought it would be useful for those of you who might be thinking about going into science communication, and if your thinking about attending a similar event.

It was held at Conway Hall in Holborn, London and was attended by a range of speakers including Dr Stephen Webster (ICL), Tom Chivers (Buzzfeed) and Mun Keat Looi (Mosaic) and much more.
Overall the day was an enlightening experience and I learnt a lot from each of the speakers and their views of science communication and their backgrounds.

Although it was a chilly October day, the hall was packed with a full-house of aspiring science communicators.  We all came from extremely different backgrounds but our intentions/goals were the same.

The day started off with an introduction and welcome by Katherine Mathieson who then introduced Dr Stephen Webster who spoke about the recurring themes that affect science communication and how the public relationship with science communication is an extremely difficult one to understand.

  • Recommendation: do take a notepad and pen to take down notes and possibly a tablet or laptop so that you could open and save the speakers recommended reading.


The next session was by a panel of speakers: Tom Tapper, Dr Claire Asher, Tom Chivers and Ellen Dowell. They discussed how to choose the right medium for your message which isn’t restricted to the usual, well-known methods.

The third session was on storytelling in science communication. Mun-Keat Looi told us all about the effect that storytelling has on engaging readers with science and gave us some great examples of where it is used. This is something I would like to adapt in my science blogs. We also did a fun and creative exercise where we had to make up a science story, with characters and a “plot” and swap with our neighbour and have them fill in the alternate sections.

Later on in the day, the fourth session was hosted by Marie Hobson who talked to us about evaluating our work and how to understand our audience and identifying potential challenges or barriers in our piece of science communication.

The closing session of the day was a relaxing interview with Helen Czerski. She talked about her scientific journey and her relationship with “bubbles” and her research.


As well as learning more about science communication, the event was really great for networking with other science communicators and meeting other people in the field. I would highly recommend this event for anyone who loves science and wants to communicate it or study science communication in higher education. 

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