60

                                                                                                                              

60.  Minimum # of days it takes to change an unhealthy eating habit.

HOW TO CHANGE AN UNHEALTHY EATING HABIT TO A HEALTHY ONE:

1.  AWARENESS – Be mindful of the unhealthy eating habit.  Think of WHY you reach for certain unhealthy foods. Then, exchange it for something healthy.  See list below.

2.  PLAN MEALS – If you have no time for lunch and that is when you grab something unhealthy, prepare a healthy meal the night before and bring it to the office with you.  If you work from home, put it in the refrigerator for easy grabbing the next day.

3.  REDUCE STRESS – Meditate. Reducing stress will also improve your sleep.  Mediatating just twice a week can help with sleep problems.  Turn off all electronic equipment and find a quiet place with no distractions and simply breathe and stretch.  Nature is wonderful to quiet the noise.

4.  TAKE IT SLOW SO YOU DON’T CRASH – Slow-and-Steady is best.

 20 SMALL CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE THAT ADD UP in 60 DAYS:

  1. Start each day with a nutritious breakfast.
  2. Get at least 8 hours of sleep because lack of sleep can cause you to overeat.
  3. Drink more water instead of sugary drinks, sodas, soft drinks or energy drinks.
  4. Don’t eat meals on the run.
  5. Eat when you’re really hungry.  Stop when you’re comfortably full.
  6. Say no to second helpings.
  7. Eat healthy snacks every few  hours: fruits, veggies, almonds, walnuts.
  8. If you eat dairy, switch to soy or lower-fat dairy products.
  9. If  you eat white bread, switch to whole-grain bread.
  10. Use mustard instead of  mayo.
  11. Instead of sauces, flavor your foods with herbs, vinegars, mustards, or lemon.
  12. If you drink coffee, switch to cafe au lait, using strong coffee and hot skim milk instead of cream.
  13. Limit alchohol to 1 or 2 drinks a day.
  14. Eat larger portions of water-rich foods and less of calorie-dense foods.
  15. If you never exercise –start with walking each day.  Stretch and walk.
  16. Replace unhealthy snacking foods in your house with healthy ones. 
  17. Replace ice cream with  yogurts.
  18. Replace salty pretzels and chips with cereals, almonds, walnuts or popcorn.
  19. Stock your refrigerator with fresh fruits & veggies for snacking.
  20. Make your goal feeling healthy,  rather than a certain weight.

60 DAYS.   TWO MONTHS.  LONGTERM CHANGE.  BE PATIENT.

Forbes Rates Squash as Healthiest Sport

Squash is rated as the healthiest sport in a survey conducted by the widely respected and influential US business magazine Forbes.

While accepting that Health and Fitness are different things the magazine has compiled a list of the 10 healthiest sports. Rating for the different sports are based on consultations with fitness experts – coaches, personal trainers, competitor and exercise physiologists – as well as a dash of personal experience.

The four basic physiological components or fitness are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Injured risk is also considered.

Squash came out top of the 10 sports highlighted in  the survey.

1.         Squash
2.         Rowing
3.         Rock Climbing
4.         Swimming
5.         Cross-country Skiing
6.         Basketball
7.         Cycling
8.         Running
9.         Modern Pentathlon
10.       Boxing


Forbes states that: “The preferred game of Wall Street has convenience on its side, as 30 minutes on the squash court provides an impressive cardio respiratory workout. Extended rallies and almost constant running builds muscular strength and endurance in the lower body, while lunges, twists and turns increase flexibility in the back and abdomen. For people just getting into the game, it’s almost too much to sustain, but once you get there, squash is tremendous.”

Rating Methodology

Ratings are based upon consultations with fitness experts–coaches, personal trainers, competitors and exercise physiologists–as well as a dash of personal experience. The four basic physiological components of fitness are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being “excellent,” 4 being “darn good,” 3 being “good,” 2 being “not bad” and 1 being “nothing special.”

Injury risk is rated on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being “low,” 2 being “so-so” and 1 being “high.” Calorie burn (in parentheses) is based upon the energy expenditure of a 190-pound person over 30 minutes and is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being 450+ calories, 4 being 400-450 calories, 3 being 350-400 calories, 2 being 300-350 calories and 1 being 250-300 calories. Calorie burn rates are from the American College of Sports Medicine; whenever possible, we selected the rate for “moderate” or similar intensity.

Scores were tallied to arrive at an individual rating for each sport. Of course, physiological benefits, injury risks and calorie burn can vary widely depending upon the technique, vigor, care and enthusiasm with which you pursue the sport.

The Forbes website presents a slide show of the ten sports and their ratings. Click here for the slide show.

If you’d like to learn how to play squash, here are 15 Steps to get you started. http://startingsquash.com/

 

Excuse me while I go look up modern pentathlon. 🙂  Hmmm.  It includes five events: pistol shootingépée fencing, 200 m freestyle swimmingshow jumping, and a 3 km cross-country run.  My non-competitive walking did not make the list, but I say it’s the best.

Stay healthy!

Sober Up to Safe Soda and Cocktails

According to a survey conducted by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, 95 percent of people do not know what constitutes safe levels of drinking.  That’s a lot of ignorance. Maybe since they may be drunk, the “ignorance is bliss” adage rings true.

That said, I thought I’d take a moment to raise awareness because young people responded to the survey by saying they thought 8 or 9 drinks were “risk-free” and “safe.”  Pay attention and Sober Up youth of America and Australia.

FACT:  Safe drinking is TWO drinks per day for men and women.  Some say one for women.  For special occasions, FOUR drinks over 6 hours.

People will say things like, “Yeah…but I’m tall” or “I weigh a lot, so I can drink a lot more than the average bloke” to excuse going over that amount.  Some will even say the food they ate is absorbing the alcohol. Sober Up, excuse makers.

News Flash:  It may take longer for the alcohol to catch up with your cheeseburger and fries, but it will travel through your bloodstream just the same.  Your height, weight or food intake is not a reason to overindulge.

I never acquired a taste for beer or alcohol in my youth. It may have to do with my thought that alcohol was loaded with empty calories.  I was into fitness, even as a kid. So, my beverage of choice back then was TAB. What?

Back then, there was a commercial of Elle McPherson sauntering on a beach in a red bikini drinking TAB. I thought if I drank enough of it, I’d look like her.

I switched from the pink can to the one Paula Abdul was holding while dancing on Elton John‘s piano keys. I’m still not sure why I thought that was SO cool, but Abdul even set a fashion trend as we began wearing ties in college like Annie Hall.

Youth of America is easily influenced.  It’s not just me. Today, there are studies (see links at the end of this blog) that show teens are still influenced by what they see on television and in films.  Advertisers know this and they don’t give a hoot about your health. They care about you buying into whatever they’re selling.

It would be years before I learned the aspartame used in diet sodas increase insulin resistence, which leads to an increase in blood sugar, which leads to weight gain. That’s right.  They lied to the youth of America. I bet we can trace the “Obesity Epidemic” and “Increase in Diabetes” back to those TAB and Diet Coke commercials that brainwashed millions of us into thinking we were “healthy” if we were holding a can of diet soda in our hand.

By the time young people realize the truth, they are already: 1) old and 2)  suffering from strange ailments with unknown causes. I had cramps when I drank diet colas, and never imagined it could have been caused by the diet cola in my hand.

Another ailment so many in my own generation suffered from were infertility problems.  Lots of otherwise healthy people with healthy parents who had 3 to 6 kids with no problems were suddenly having issues.  We often joked something was in the water. Maybe something was in the SODA.  Today, if you google “toxic diet coke” on YouTube, you’ll find out the truth.  Chris Wragge at CBS interviewed Dr. Jennifer Ashton about the health dangers of diet soda and found they may increase your risk of stroke by 48 percent.  Sober Up on the Facts about Diet Soda by clicking on some of the links at the end of this article & watching the videos.

I’m happy I haven’t gone near diet soda in 7 years. I quit my diet cola and coffee addiction and now feel amazing. It wasn’t easy, but I feel incredibly healthy.

My advice to everyone is if you suffer from ANY aliment and you and/or physicians do not know the cause –look at what you’re eating and drinking FIRST.  Eliminate soda.  Your aches, pain or symptoms may mysteriously vanish naturally.  A safe soda choice is none. Unfortunately, it’s addicting so if you can’t shake your soda habit –take it one day at a time.  Try to limit it slowly until you can get rid of it completely. Switch to water as often as you can.

Back to alcohol. Is there any such thing as a smart cocktail?  Lisa Lillien says the following drinks are your best bet if you don’t want to pile on empty calories:

POMEGRANATE MARTINI.  A 4-oz. serving made with flavored vodka and pure pomegranate juice (half and half each) has about 185 calories. The juice packs a ton of flavor, plus a punch of antioxidants.

 

 

 

 

RED WINE. A glass of red wine is about 120 calories for 5 ounces.  If it’s a jumbo wine glass, she recommends not filling it to the top. Half works best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAIQUIRI.  A low-cal daiquiri using frozen fruit with no added sugar.  Strawberries are a good choice because they’re naturally sweet: Mix 3 partially thawed berries in a blender with ice, 1/2 oz. lime juice, and a 1 1/2 oz. shot of rum. Add just enough water to blend.

 

 

 

    RASBERRY CHAMPAGNE.  Pour champagne, then add a few raspberries. That’s about 100 calories per 5-oz. glass.

 

 

 

 

 

   SPRITZER.  Add club soda and ice to a glass of white wine and voila.

 

 

 

 

CALORIE BOMBS

 

CHOCOLATE MARTINI. Lillien says to “Beware the chocolate martini.”  It’s loaded with heavy cream and sugary syrup, which can add up to 500 calories.

 

 

 

 

WARM MULLED WINE. Loaded with honey and sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

PINA COLADAS. These favorites can top 600 calories.

 

 

 

 

  CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS. One flute with fruit juice and sugary liqueur will run more than 200 calories.

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, the safe limit is TWO drinks or FOUR drinks over 6-hours on special occasions.  Safe soda is NO SODA.

Share this information whenever you can. If anyone drinks more than that —don’t let them drive.  An innocent person shouldn’t die because you want to get a “buzz.”  How can you tell if you have a problem with alcohol? You can take this Quiz:  http://alcoholism.about.com/od/problem/a/blquiz1.htm

When is the right age to start talking to your kids about alcohol and safe drinking?  As young as 8-years-old.  Also remember that children learn by observing you.  So, Sober Up and talk to your children and teens about drinking safely, and not driving if they consume more than that. And set a good example yourself.

Stay Healthy.  Cheers!!!

🙂

[Source for smart drinks vs. dumb drinks: http://www.hungry-girl.com]

Top 10 Health Benefits of Bicycling

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1.  Builds muscle tone

2.  Reduce stress, anxiety, depression

3.  Strengthens rear, thighs, hips

4.  Gentle on joints, preserves cartilage

5.  Improves coordination

6.  Improves stamina

7.  Great for your cardiovascular system: 20 miles a week improves heart health

8.  Improves blood pressure

9.  Burns 300 calories an hour

10. Cycling for 30-minutes every day burns 11 pounds of fat a year

 

10 Metabolism Boosting Foods

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This great article from Sheri Strykowski about metabolism boosting foods and how to increase metabolism that is sure to have you nodding your head in agreement but there are a few that will probably be new to you as well.

 How to Increase Metabolism

1. Water! A new study seems to indicate that drinking water actually speeds up weight loss and is a great way how to increase metabolism. Researchers in Germany found that subjects of the study increased their metabolic rates (the rate at which calories are burned) by 30 percent after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water. Water is also a natural appetite suppressant that banishes bloat as it flushes out sodium and toxins. Drinking enough water will also help keep you from mistaking thirst for hunger. So drink up! Make sure that you are starting your day with a big big glass of water and drink throughout the day not just all at one time.

 2. Green Tea! Studies show that green tea extracts boost metabolism and may aid in weight loss. This mood-enhancing tea has also been reported to contain anti-cancer properties and help prevent heart disease. It’s also a trendy drink among weight-conscious celebrities. You may Have already seen my green tea articles but this may be one really fantastic herb and it tastes nice too!

3. Soup! Eat less and burn fat faster by having a bowl of soup as an appetizer or a snack. According to a Penn State University study, soup is a super appetite suppressant because it’s made up of a hunger-satisfying combination of liquids and solids. In the study, women chose one of three 270-calorie snacks before lunch. Women who had chicken and rice soup as a snack consumed a n average of 100 fewer calories than those in the study who opted for a chicken and rice casserole or the casserole and a glass of water. I used to joke that soup is not a meal but it really dies fill you for very few calories and remember that when you eat a food with a lot of taste it really will satisfy.

4. Grapefruit! The grapefruit diet is not a myth. Researchers at Scripps Clinic found that participants who ate half a grapefruit with each meal in a 12-week period lost an average of 3.6 pounds. The study indicates that the unique chemical properties in this vitamin C-packed citrus fruit reduce insulin levels, which promotes weight loss and boost metabolism. NOTE: If you are taking medication, check with your doctor about any potentially adverse interactions with grapefruit. Grapefruit, because of the soft peel is a nice alternative to an apple of orange and study after study of the last 30 years has shown that it can really help burn fat.

5. Apples and Pears! Overweight women who ate the equivalent of three small apples or pears a day lost more weight on a low-calorie diet than women who didn’t add fruit to their diet, according to re searchers from the State University of Rio de Janeiro. Fruit eaters also ate fewer calories overall. So next time you need to satisfy a sugar craving, reach for this low-calorie, high-fiber snack. You’ll feel full longer and eat less.

6. Broccoli! Study after study links calcium and weight loss. Broccoli is not only high in calcium, but also loaded with vitamin C, which boosts calcium absorption. This member of the nutritious cabbage family also has plenty of vitamin A, folate and fiber. And, at just 20-calories per cup, this weight-loss superfood not only fights fat but also contains powerful phytochemicals that boost your immunity and protect against disease.

7. Low-Fat Yogurt! Dairy products can boost weight loss efforts, according to a study in the April issue of Obesity Research. People on a reduced-calorie diet who included three to four servings of dairy foods lost significantly more weight than those who ate a low-dairy diet containing the same number of calories. Low-fat yogurt is a rich source of weight-loss-friendly calcium, providing about 450 mg (about half the recommended daily allowance for women ages 19-50) per 8-ounce serving, as well as 12 grams of protein. As far as superfood go Yogurt is right there. It includes calcium, protein and a ton of other nutrients as well as good bacteria and probiotics for you digestive tract.

8. Lean Turkey! Rev up your fat-burning engine with this bodybuilder favorite. Countless studies have shown that protein can help boost metabolism, lose fat and build lean muscle tissue so you burn more calories. A 3-ounce serving of boneless, skinless lean turkey breast weighs in at 120 calories and provides 26 grams of appetite-curbing protein, 1 gram of fat and 0 grams of saturated fat. With the price of chicken going up and up these days Turkey has become a great alternative. Remember that Turkey is a little tougher than chicken and the taste is a little different but it is not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas anymore.

9. Oatmeal! This heart-healthy favorite ranks high on the good carb list, because it’s a good source of cholesterol-fighting, fat-soluble fiber (7 grams per 3/4-cup serving) that keeps you full and provides you with the energy you need to make the most of your workouts. Just be sure to choose steel cut or rolled oats, not instant oatmeal, to get your full dose of vitamins, minerals and fiber. For many years now Pro Bodybuilders have relied on Oatmeal as a staple of their breakfast, it is amazingly high in nutrients.

10. Hot Peppers! Eating hot peppers can speed up and boost metabolism and cool your cravings, researchers at Laval University in Canada found. Here’s why: Capsaicin (a chemical found in jalapeno and cayenne peppers) temporarily stimulates your body to release more stress hormones, which speeds up your metabolism and causes you to burn more calories.

Here’s how these 10 fat-blasting superstars help you lose weight and how to increase metabolism.

How to Increase MetabolismEach of these healthy weight-loss boosters fills you up and keeps you full longer on fewer calories.

How to Increase MetabolismWater-rich fresh fruits, veggies and soup dilute the calories in your food and allow you to eat more without breaking the calorie bank.

How to Increase MetabolismHigh-fiber fruit, vegetables and nutritious whole grains keep your digestive system on track and steady insulin levels, which prevents fat storage.

How to Increase MetabolismLean meat boosts metabolism and burns calories because it take more energy to digest than other foods.

Meet The Chief Wellness Officer at The Cleveland Clinic: Dr. Michael Roizen

By Janet Podolak

 

Drinking milk can cause cancer.

Cheap yellow mustard may prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Heavy cardio workouts can reverse Parkinson’s disease.

MichaelRoizen

These statements by Dr. Michael Roizen caused his audience to sit up and take notice. Folks were attending a Healthy Foods class hosted in Chester Township by Loretta Paganini.

michaelroizen1

The chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic, Roizen believes that diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can reverse health problems, even those inherited as part of family history.

michaelroizen6.jpg

 

“We’re at our peak around 30, and it’s downhill from there,” he told the 80-person group gathered at the International Culinary Arts & Sciences Institute. He said a Harvard study by doctors confirms the loss of 5 percent of mental and physical function every 10 years after age 30. But that’s not inevitable, he said.

“After 30, it’s choices that make those determinations, and the food you eat can turn on good genes and turn off bad ones,” he said.

michaelroizen5

A researcher whose work as an author and speaker commands widespread attention, Roizen says he loves what he does — and that loving what you do is one of his secrets to a longer, healthier life.

nutrition1

“Dr. Roizen has changed the character of the Cleveland Clinic and has made believers out of people like me,” said Dr. Emil Paganini, a retired nephrologist at the clinic who has joined his wife’s Chester Township culinary operation along with doing medical consultation work. He gained 80 pounds after adopting a more sedentary lifestyle, but in the past six months has shed 50 pounds and increased his stamina and muscle tone with diet and exercise

“Anyone can do it,” Roizen told the group.

michaelroizen3

He’s personally delivered health care to eight Nobel Prize winners, 700 former smokers and more than 100 Fortune 500 CEOs.

michaelroizen2

“Your genes make protein, and with healthy eating you can change them,” he said, beginning a slide presentation showing before-and-after photos of a man who followed Roizen’s better health protocol for 28 days. The 50-something diabetic’s health was so bad he was verging on a stroke.

cdc14

“In just 28 days he lost weight, brought his blood sugar down from 175 to 99, and nearly normalized his blood pressure,” Roizen said. “To do that, he quit smoking, gave up meat and animal products, did 15 minutes of meditation morning and evening, and walked 10,000 steps a day.”

walking

Roizen doesn’t claim the protocol is easy but says it’s life-saving.

Trainer Jaime Brenkus, who is based at Slim & Fit Personal Weight Loss and Fitness in Concord Township, says the resolve for true change is motivated by one of two things.

health6

“Motivation comes from either the desire to change one’s image or a combination of pain and fear,” Brenkus said.

He works with the Paganini family members on their own fitness goals and said he came to Roizen’s presentation in search of information and inspiration.

roizenbook2

Roizen, who regularly reviews clinical trials and other professional findings, is perhaps best-known for his “RealAge” books about turning back the biological clock, and the “YOU” series authored with colleague Dr. Mehmet Oz.

He researches in real-life scenarios, such as spending time at a call center where, he said, the daily stress level is 22 times higher than in daily life.

stress

Reducing stress is a key component to any health plan, and exercise and meditation are just part of the answer, he said. He said loving what you do and having supportive friends are just as important.

michaelroizen17

“The whole obesity epidemic began in the 1980s when we got the idea that it’s OK to eat anything, anytime, anywhere,” he said. “But good health isn’t ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ There are things we just should not eat.”

soda1

The theory that “just a little” of a forbidden food won’t do any harm is a fallacy, he said.

“One ounce of Pepsi is not going to hurt, but who do you know who can stop with one ounce?” he said.

healthy

He has a similar reaction to news that wine can be good for you.

“Alcohol can be good for the blood but is bad for the immune system,” he said. “And with 17 percent of drinkers ending up with addiction, it just doesn’t make sense to start drinking if you don’t drink.”

foodcomaHe said sugar, which can be addictive because it releases “feel-good” dopamine into the body just as heroin and cocaine do, is one of those substances best eliminated.

“High levels of blood sugar that result in diabetes cause the same lesions on the brain as Alzheimer’s does. So avoiding added sugars is critical for health.”

foodcoma1

The damage caused by saturated and trans fats has been proved, he said.

“That means no french fries,” he said, noting deep fryers have been eliminated at Cleveland Clinic. “We now have 48 of them for sale.”

WALK2

Walking 10,000 steps a day measured by a pedometer is a behavior to embrace, he said.

“Ten thousand steps is the point at which sugars in the blood are converted,” he said. “Not 7,000, not 12,000, but 10,000 steps every day.”

exercise1

Hard physical exercise — 21 minutes at least three times a week — has been shown to improve memory function in addition to fitness levels.

exercise4

A surprise finding came from a bicycle competition in which Parkinson’s patients were on the rear of tandem bikes pedaled by athletes.

bikeriding1

“We discovered that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week led to a remission of Parkinson’s in 70 percent of them,” Roizen said.

And as for his “cheap mustard” statement regarding Alzheimer’s?

“Cheap yellow mustard is loaded with turmeric instead of mustard seed,” he said. “Everything eaten in India is made with turmeric, and there’s a zero rate of Alzheimer’s there.”

healthy1

 

Roizen’s tips for improved health

Eliminate:

— Added sugar

— Added corn syrup

— Simple carbohydrates found in most flours

— Saturated fats

— Trans fats

— Dairy products including cheese

Add:

— 900 milligrams DHA, found in omega 3, preferably from algae

— 1,200 milligrams Vitamin D3

— 600 milligrams calcium with magnesium

— Probiotics

— 2 baby aspirin taken with warm water.

Behaviors to embrace:

— Floss teeth

— Sleep 61⁄2 to 8 hours a day

— Know your blood pressure and strive for 115 over 75

— Have a buddy for workouts

— Learn to like black coffee and soy milk

— Find something you love and do it every day.

michaelroizen10

Excellent advice.  It’s no wonder that in 2007, Dr. Roizen was named Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic, a world-class leader in medicine, research, education, technology and innovation. It is the first such position in a major healthcare institution in the United States.

michaelroizen14

For More Information on the Cleveland Clinic Wellness visit:

http://www.myclevelandclinic.org/wellness.com

And be sure to check out all of Dr. Roizen’s amazing books on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=michael+roizen&sprefix=michael+roizen%2Caps%2C299

They include:

 

roizenbook2     roizenbook1

 

ccf9

 

healthy1

Stay healthy!

MARIA DORFNER  is founder of NewsMD and Healthy Within Network. This is her blog.

She can be reached at maria.dorfner@yahoo.com and on Twitter: Maria_Dorfner

Coffee: Good, Bad or Ugly? by Maria Dorfner

Nearly 90 percent of American adults drink coffee on a regular basis.  Let’s look at studies in the past 4 years to gain some perspective and try to get to the bottom of the good, the bad and the ugly in your cup of  joe.
 
Warning:  You’ll need a double shot of espresso before reading this.
 
Ultimately, you decide.  It’s your body.  It’s your  health.  My feeling is as long as you’re aware of the good, bad and ugly and you’re not just presented with one side of the story –you can make the best decision for your own well-being.
 
Just don’t tell me “researchers in China” who were paid to do a study are going to tell me what is good for me.  Or  you.
 
I decided kicking my coffee habit 7 years ago, was the best thing I ever did for my health.  But it wasn’t easy, so I understand and empathize with anyone who loves their java, as I once did.   There are tips at the end of this article for anyone who needs help with kicking the coffee habit.
 
Until then, remember that each time you buy coffee, you put money in a companies pocket.  When those large corporations are able to fund studies or pay physicians to say this or that —it raises a red flag.  When it comes to your health you can’t take things at face value.
 
 
 

Lets face it, if you’re drinking coffee –you probably love it and don’t want to hear any bad news.  In fact, any good news makes you more excited than you already are from the coffee. You jittery?  Go ahead, deny it.

Health effects of coffee according to WIKIPEDIA:

 

The health effects of coffee have been studied to determine how coffee drinking affects humans. Coffee contains several compounds which are known to affect human body chemistry. The coffee bean itself contains chemicals which are mild psychotropics for humans as a defense mechanism of the Coffea plant.

These chemicals are toxic in large doses, or even in their normal amount when consumed by many creatures which may otherwise have threatened the beans in the wild. Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant.

Recent research has uncovered additional stimulating effects of coffee which are not related to its caffeine content. Coffee contains a currently unknown chemical agent which stimulates the production of cortisone and adrenaline, two stimulating hormones.[1]

For occasions when one wants to enjoy the flavor of coffee with almost no stimulation, decaffeinated coffee (also called decaf) is available.

This is coffee from which most of the caffeine has been removed, by the Swiss water process (which involves the soaking of raw beans to remove the caffeine) or the use of a chemical solvent such as trichloroethylene (“tri“), or the more popular methylene chloride, in a similar process. Another solvent used is ethyl acetate; the resultant decaffeinated coffee is marketed as “natural decaf” because ethyl acetate is naturally present in fruit. Extraction withsupercritical carbon dioxide has also been employed.

Decaffeinated coffee usually loses some flavor compared to normal coffee. There are also coffee alternatives that resemble coffee in taste but contain no caffeine (see below). These are available both in ground form for brewing and in instant form.

Caffeine dependency and withdrawal symptoms are well-documented.

HERE’S THE GOOD.

Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and DementiaBenefits

Several studies comparing moderate coffee drinkers (defined as 3–5 cups per day) with light coffee drinkers (defined as 0–2 cups per day) found that those who drank more coffee were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.[2][3] A longitudinal study in 2009 found that moderate coffee drinkers had reduced risk of developing dementia in addition to Alzheimer’s disease.[4]

Reduced risk of gallstone disease

Drinking caffeinated coffee has been correlated with a lower incidence of gallstones and gallbladder disease in both men[5] and women[6] in two studies performed by the Harvard School of Public Health. A lessened risk was not seen in those who drank decaffeinated coffee. A recent study showed that roast coffee protected primary neuronal cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death.[7]

Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease

A study comparing heavy coffee drinkers (3.5 cups a day) with non-drinkers found that the coffee drinkers were significantly less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later in life.[8] Likewise, a second study found an inverse relationship between the amount of coffee regularly drank and the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease.[9]

Cognitive performance

Many people drink coffee for its ability to increase short term recall.[10]

Likewise, in tests of simple reaction time, choice reaction time, incidental verbal memory, and visuospatial reasoning, participants who regularly drank coffee were found to perform better on all tests, with a positive relationship between test scores and the amount of coffee regularly drunk. Elderly participants were found to have the largest effect associated with regular coffee drinking.[11] Another study found that women over the age of 80 performed significantly better on cognitive tests if they had regularly drunk coffee over their lifetimes.[12]

Analgesic enhancement

Coffee contains caffeine, which increases the effectiveness of pain killers, especially migraine and headache medications.[13] For this reason, many over-the-counter headache drugs include caffeine in their formula.

Antidiabetic

Coffee intake may reduce one’s risk of diabetes mellitus type 2 by up to half. While this was originally noticed in patients who consumed high amounts (7 cups a day), the relationship was later shown to be linear.[14][15]

Liver protection

Coffee can also reduce the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver[16] and has been linked to a reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, a primary liver cancer that usually arises in patients with preexisting cirrhosis.[17] The exact mechanism and the amount of coffee needed to achieve a beneficial effect have long been unclear.[18] The cytokine transforming growth factor (TGF) beta has long been recognized for promoting fibrosis ability acting through the Smad family of transcription factors. In an interesting report recently published in the Journal of Hepatology, Gressner and colleagues provide the first mechanistic context for the epidemiological studies on coffee drinkers by showing that caffeine may have potent anti-fibrotic capabilities through its ability to antagonize the Smad pathway.[19]

Cancer

Coffee consumption is also correlated to a reduced risk of oralesophageal, and pharyngeal cancer.[20][21] In ovarian cancer, no benefit was found.[22] In the Nurses’ Health Study, a modest reduction in breast cancer was observed in postmenopausal women only, which was not confirmed in decaffeinated coffee,[23] and a reduction in endometrial cancer was observed in people who drank either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.[24] According to one study, coffee protects the liver from cancer.[25] Another preliminary study found a correlation between coffee consumption and a lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer.[26]

Cardioprotective

Coffee moderately reduces the incidence of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a large prospective cohort study published in 2008.[27] A 2009 prospective study in Japan following nearly 77,000 individuals aged 40 to 79 found that coffee consumption, along with caffeine intake, was associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.[28]

Laxative/diuretic

Coffee is also a powerful stimulant for peristalsis and is sometimes considered to prevent constipation. However, coffee can also cause excessively loose bowel movements. The stimulative effect of coffee consumption on the colon is found in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.[29][30]

Practitioners in alternative medicine often recommend coffee enemas for “cleansing of the colon” due to its stimulus of peristalsis, although medicine has not proven any benefits of the practice.

Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not act as a diuretic when consumed in moderation (less than five cups a day or 500 to 600 milligrams), and does not lead to dehydration or to a water-electrolyte imbalance; current evidence suggests that caffeinated beverages contribute to the body’s daily fluid requirements no differently from pure water.[31][32][33][34]

Antioxidant

Coffee contains the anticancer compound methylpyridinium. This compound is not present in significant amounts in other foods. Methylpyridinium is not present in raw coffee beans but is formed during the roasting process from trigonelline, which is common in raw coffee beans. It is present in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and even in instant coffee.[35] Research funded by Kraftshows that roast coffee contains more lipophilic antioxidants and chlorogenic acid lactones and is more protective against hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death in primary neuronal cells than green coffee.[7] The espresso method of extraction yields higher antioxidant activity than other brewing methods.[36]

Prevention of dental caries

The tannins in coffee may reduce the cariogenic potential of foods. In vitro experiments have shown that these polyphenolic compounds may interfere with glucosyltransferase activity of mutans streptococci, which may reduce plaque formation.[37]

Gout

Coffee consumption decreased risk of gout in men over age 40. In a large study of over 45,000 men over a 12-year period, the risk for developing gout in men over 40 was inversely proportional with the amount of coffee consumed.[38]

 

Science News

 

Why Coffee Protects Against Diabetes

ScienceDaily (Jan. 13, 2011) — Coffee, that morning elixir, may give us an early jump-start to the day, but numerous studies have shown that it also may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Yet no one has really understood why.



Now, researchers at UCLA have discovered a possible molecular mechanism behind coffee’s protective effect. A protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) regulates the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. And coffee consumption, it turns out, increases plasma levels of SHBG.

Reporting with colleagues in the current edition of the journal Diabetes, first author Atsushi Goto, a UCLA doctoral student in epidemiology, and Dr. Simin Liu, a professor of epidemiology and medicine with joint appointments at the UCLA School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, show that women who drink at least four cups of coffee a day are less than half as likely to develop diabetes as non-coffee drinkers.

When the findings were adjusted for levels of SHBG, the researchers said, that protective effect disappeared.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 24 million children and adults in the U.S. — nearly 8 percent of the population — have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of these cases.

Early studies have consistently shown that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes, Liu said. That is, the greater the consumption of coffee, the lesser the risk of diabetes. It was thought that coffee may improve the body’s tolerance to glucose by increasing metabolism or improving its tolerance to insulin.

“But exactly how is elusive,” said Liu, “although we now know that this protein, SHBG, is critical as an early target for assessing the risk and prevention of the onset of diabetes.”

Earlier work by Liu and his colleagues published in the New England Journal of Medicine had identified two mutations in the gene coding for SHBG and their effect on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes; one increases risk while the other decreases it, depending on the levels of SHBG in the blood.

A large body of clinical studies has implicated the important role of sex hormones in the development of type 2 diabetes, and it’s known that SHBG not only regulates the sex hormones that are biologically active but may also bind to receptors in a variety of cells, directly mediating the signaling of sex hormones.

“That genetic evidence significantly advanced the field,” said Goto, “because it indicated that SHBG may indeed play a causal role in affecting risk for type 2 diabetes.”

“It seems that SHBG in the blood does reflect a genetic susceptibility to developing type 2 diabetes,” Liu said. “But we now further show that this protein can be influenced by dietary factors such as coffee intake in affecting diabetes risk — the lower the levels of SHBG, the greater the risk beyond any known diabetes risk factors.”

For the study, the researchers identified 359 new diabetes cases matched by age and race with 359 apparently healthy controls selected from among nearly 40,000 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Study, a large-scale cardiovascular trial originally designed to evaluate the benefits and risks of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

They found that women who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee each day had significantly higher levels of SHBG than did non-drinkers and were 56 percent less likely to develop diabetes than were non-drinkers. And those who also carried the protective copy of the SHBG gene appeared to benefit the most from coffee consumption.

When the investigators controlled for blood SHBG levels, the decrease in risk associated with coffee consumption was not significant. This suggests that it is SHBG that mediates the decrease in risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Liu said.

And there’s bad news for decaf lovers. “Consumption of decaffeinated coffee was not significantly associated with SHBG levels, nor diabetes risk,” Goto said. “So you probably have to go for the octane!”

Other authors of the study included Brian Chen, of UCLA, and Julie Buring, JoAnn Manson and Yiqing Song, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health. No conflicts of interest were reported by the authors. Original by Mark Wheeler.

Coffee Health Benefits : Coffee may protect against disease

HERE’S A FEBRUARY 2006 STUDY:

It’s surprising when something that was once considered questionable for your health turns out to have health benefits, usually with the proviso to use it “in moderation.” That happened with chocolate and alcohol, and now it is coffee’s turn, reports the February issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Here’s some of the mostly good news about coffee:

Blood pressure. Results from long-term studies are showing that coffee may not increase the risk for high blood pressure over time, as previously thought. Study findings for other cardiovascular effects are a mixed bag.

Cancer. Coffee might have anti-cancer properties. Last year, researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. A few studies have found ties to lower rates of colon, breast, and rectal cancers.

Cholesterol. Two substances in coffee — kahweol and cafestol — raise cholesterol levels. Paper filters capture these substances, but that doesn’t help the many people who now drink non-filtered coffee drinks, such as lattes. Researchers have also found a link between cholesterol increases and decaffeinated coffee, possibly because of the type of bean used to make certain decaffeinated coffees.

Diabetes. Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as light drinkers or nondrinkers. Coffee may contain chemicals that lower blood sugar. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.

Parkinson’s disease. Coffee seems to protect men, but not women, against Parkinson’s disease. One possible explanation for the sex difference may be that estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized, and estrogen captures those enzymes.

UM, NOT SO FAST.  HERE’S THE BAD. 

ALL THE ABOVE IS QUESTIONABLE.  ANYONE CAN PUT THINGS IN WIKIPEDIA.  ALL THE OTHER STUDIES HAVE LED TO OTHER STUDIES WHICH CONTRADICT THE ABOVE FINDINGS. READ ON:

RISKS

Cancer

Over 1,000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee, and 19 are known rodent carcinogens;[39] however, most substances cited as rodent carcinogens occur naturally and should not be assumed to be carcinogenic in humans at exposure levels typically experienced in day-to-day life.[39]

Gastrointestinal problems

Coffee can damage the lining of the gastrointestinal organs, causing gastritis and ulcers. The consumption of coffee is therefore not recommended for people with gastritis, colitis, and ulcers.[40]

Anxiety and sleep changes

Many coffee drinkers are familiar with “coffee jitters”, a nervous condition that occurs when one has had too much caffeine. It can also cause anxiety and irritability, in some with excessive coffee consumption, and some as a withdrawal symptom. Coffee can also cause insomnia in some. In others it can cause narcolepsy.[41]

Cholesterol

2007 study by the Baylor College of Medicine indicates that the diterpene molecules cafestol and kahweol, found only in coffee beans, may raise levels of low-density lipoprotein or LDL in humans.[42] This increase in LDL levels is an indicator that coffee raises cholesterol. The Baylor study suggests a possible link between cafestol, kahweol and higher levels of cholesterol in the body.

Paper coffee filters have a property that binds to lipid-like compounds which allows the filter to remove most of the cafestol and kahweol found in coffee. Brew methods which do not use a paper filter, such as the use of a press pot, do not remove cafestol and kahweol from the final brewed product.[43][44]

Blood pressure

Caffeine has previously been implicated in increasing the risk of high blood pressure; however, recent studies have not confirmed any association. In a 12-year study of 155,000 female nurses, large amounts of coffee did not induce a “risky rise in blood pressure”[45] .[46] Previous studies had already shown statistically insignificant associations between coffee drinking and clinical hypertension. Effect of coffee on morbidity and mortality due to its effect on blood pressure is too weak, and has not been studied. Other positive and negative effects of coffee on health would be difficult confounding factors.[1]

Effects on pregnancy

Caffeine molecules are small enough to penetrate the placenta and slip into the baby’s blood circulation. Unlike adults, organs and systems in fetuses are not full-fledged, therefore not capable of fully metabolizing caffeine and excreting it. The energy booster tends to linger in the fetus’s blood ten times longer than in adults. High levels of caffeine are bound to accumulate in the baby’s body with frequent maternal consumption of caffeine. Just like what it does to adults, caffeine could also send the baby’s pulse and breathing rate racing and affect its sleep pattern for an extended duration.[47]

A February 2003 Danish study of 18,478 women linked heavy coffee consumption during pregnancy to significantly increased risk of stillbirths (but no significantly increased risk of infant death in the first year). “The results seem to indicate a threshold effect around four to seven cups per day,” the study reported. Those who drank eight or more cups a day (64 U.S. fl oz or 1.89 L) were at 220% increased risk compared with nondrinkers. This study has not yet been repeated, but has caused some doctors to caution against excessive coffee consumption during pregnancy.[48]

Decaffeinated coffee is also regarded as a potential health risk to pregnant women when chemical solvents are used to extract the caffeine instead of other less invasive processes. The impact of these chemicals is debated, however, as the solvents in question evaporate at 80–90 °C, and coffee beans are decaffeinated before roasting, which occurs at approximately 200 °C. As such, these chemicals, namely trichloroethane and methylene chloride, are present in trace amounts at most, and may not pose a significant threat to embryos and fetuses.[citation needed]

Iron deficiency anemia

Coffee consumption can lead to iron deficiency anemia in mothers and infants.[49] Coffee also interferes with the absorption of supplemental iron.[50]

Coronary artery disease

A 2004 study tried to discover why the beneficial and detrimental effects of coffee conflict. The study concluded that consumption of coffee is associated with significant elevations in biochemical markers of inflammation. This is a detrimental effect of coffee on the cardiovascular system, which may explain why coffee has so far only been shown to help the heart at levels of four cups (24 fl oz or 600 mL) or fewer per day.[51]

The health risks of decaffeinated coffee have been studied, with varying results. One variable is the type of decaffeination process used; while some involve the use of organic solvents which may leave residual traces, others rely on steam.[citation needed]

A study has shown that cafestol, a substance which is present in boiled coffee drinks, dramatically increases cholesterol levels, especially in women. Filtered coffee contains only trace amounts of cafestol.

Polymorphisms in the CYP1A2 gene may lead to a slower metabolism of caffeine. In patients with a slow version of the enzyme the risk for myocardial infarction (heart attack) is increased by a third (2–3 cups) to two thirds (>4 cups). The risk was more marked in people under the age of 59.[52]

A Harvard study conducted over the course of 20 years of 128,000 people published in 2006 concluded that there was no evidence to support the claim that coffee consumption itself increases the risk of coronary heart disease. The study did, however, show a correlation between heavy consumption of coffee and higher degrees of exposure to other coronary heart disease risk factors such as smoking, greater alcohol consumption, and lack of physical exercise.[53] The results apply only to coffee filtered through paper filters, which excludes boiled coffee and espresso, for example. Additionally, the lead researcher on this study acknowledged that subsets of the larger group may be at risk for heart attack when drinking multiple cups of coffee a day due to genetic differences in metabolizing caffeine.[citation needed]

The Iowa Women’s Health Study showed that women who consumed coffee actually had fewer cardiovascular disease incidents and lower cancer rates than the general population. For women who drank 6 or more cups, the benefit was even greater. However, this study excluded 35% of its original participants who already had cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases when the study began. Since participants were all over the age of 55, no good conclusion can be drawn about the long term effect of coffee drinking on heart disease from this study.[54]

 

________________________________________________________

FINALLY, THE UGLY whenever $$$ IS TIED TO HEALTH.

My analysis has determined that Government funded studies are PRO-COFFEE.  Let’s ask why.  Independent studies are ANTI-COFFEE.

Four cups seems to be the safest bet if there is no way someone is going to pull that morning cup of java away from you.  Meantime, let’s look at some of the latest studies.

LATEST NEWS as of January 20, 2012.  First, here’s the article that raised a red flag in my mind. It was first published on January 18, 2012, but began trending today. So, other media outlets were jumping on the java bandwagon.

Why heavy coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of diabetes

AFP Relax News – Wed, Jan 18, 2012

  • Why heavy coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of diabetes

Research shows that heavy coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and now scientists in China may have discovered why.

Prior studies have shown that people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 50 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, and that every extra cup of coffee brings another decrease in risk of almost seven percent.

Researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan University, and Wuhan Institute of Biotechnology in China have cited the protective benefits of compounds in coffee that inhibit a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP), which has been linked to diabetes, stated science and health news website Science Daily last week in a report on the new study. The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemisty.

Last year, a Harvard University study in the US found that drinking coffee, either decaf or regular, can ward off the risk of deadly prostate cancer. Another recent study found that women who drank five or more cups of coffee a day were 57 percent less likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

More good news for coffee lovers? Coffee has also been shown to improve brain function in mice studies, with researchers probing the possibility of using coffee as a treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Still health experts don’t recommend too much coffee. The US-based Mayo Clinic suggests no more than two to four cups a day, since more than that can cause insomnia, upset stomach, and anxiety.

This article made me suspicious. I don’t know why. But when I get that “feeling” my Nancy Drew instincts kick in. Why are scientists in China cheerleaders for coffee? Hmmm.  Well, check out this WALL STREET JOURNAL article.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704462704575609733431622088.html

Starbucks to Open China Coffee Farm, Securing Global Supply

By LAURIE BURKITT

PUER, ChinaStarbucks Corp. signed a deal with the Chinese provincial government of Yunnan to set up its first-ever coffee-bean farm in the world to cater to a rapidly growing population of coffee drinkers in China amid a global battle for quality coffee beans.

In the southwest province steeped in thousands of years of tea production, the Seattle-based coffee chain is hiring and training local coffee growers. The hope is that Chinese-grown arabica beans, a bitter-earthy variety, will fill the cups of a culture that is acquiring a growing taste for coffee.

A new Yunnan province coffee-bean farm marks the first time Starbucks will grow its own coffee, as the U.S. chain eyes further expansion in China. Video courtesy of Reuters.

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultzsaid the company will work with farmers to improve yields and incomes.

“This creates a significant statement about our commitment to doing business in China and doing business the right way,” Mr. Schultz said. The first beans will be harvested in three years. Mr. Schultz declined to offer financial details of the investment.

China’s thirst for coffee is surging. Coffee sales climbed 9% last year to 4.6 billion yuan ($694 million), according to research company Euromonitor International. Starbucks currently operates 400 stores in mainland China and has plans to open a thousand more in the coming years, Mr. Schultz said, without being more specific.

China is poised to become Starbucks’ second-largest market behind the U.S., overtaking Canada, Japan and the U.K.

Starbucks’ 2010 revenue jumped to $10.7 billion, up 9.5% from 2009.  International store sales increased 6%. The company, which has a nearly 70% market share in China, according to Euromonitor, declined to provide specific information on its growth in the country. Starbucks is in its second year of recovery after cutting $600 million from its operating costs. U.S. sales are picking up, but the company isn’t opening new stores there. Starbucks is looking for new ways to grow.

Some analysts say the company’s recent decision to discontinue a supermarket distribution contract with Kraft Foods Inc. signals that it will further move from its retail roots into more packaged-goods production. Starbucks will begin selling coffee machines in the U.S. market, Mr. Schultz said, declining to give a timeline.

Fierce competition is brewing in China. McDonald’s Corp. is rolling out new McCafés and adding coffee bars to some existing outlets across China. China Resources EnterpriseLtd, a Hong Kong-based company that currently operates 90 Pacific Coffee chains in Asia, has 1,000 new China outlets in its pipeline, according to the company.  Costa Coffee, owned by Britain’s Whitbread, PLC, is cranking out more than 250 new stores in the next three years.

Coffee distributors are all bidding against one another for a limited supply of high-quality beans.  Aging trees farmed year-after-year in Central and South America are producing lackluster, bland yields, and companies are desperate for new supplies. Nestlé SA is investing $487 million in a decade-long global effort to train and supply thousands of farmers across the globe—from Mexico to Indonesia—with new coffee trees, according to Nestlé.

Global arabica-bean prices are up more than 50% this year and are near 13-year highs due to bad weather and failing crops in Colombia and Central America. To absorb the higher costs, Starbucks in September raised the prices of some hard-to-make and larger-sized drinks, though in the U.S. only. Prices in China, which average $5 for a java chip frappuccino, didn’t change.

China exerts a big influence on markets for commodities such as oil, copper and soybeans, but isn’t a focus for the coffee market. That looks set to change with Starbucks’ foray. In addition, China’s potential as a quality coffee producer is in sharp contrast to Asian nations’ current reputation as suppliers of a low-quality robusta beans.

Starbucks is hoping that the quality of its Yunnan-grown coffee will be good enough to sell globally. Despite high raw ingredient prices, the partnership with China’s Yunnan provincial government isn’t about buying cheaper quality, said Mr. Schultz. “We strongly believe it will be as good in the cup as the coffee we currently buy in other markets,” he said.

Elevating Yunnan’s arabica quality may be a tall order. The company used Chinese beans to launch a special coffee line last year called “South of the Clouds,” which is the literal translation of Yunnan. Due to lack of quality and quantity, “South of the Clouds” became a blend. It was offered only in China, Malaysia and Singapore.

Company executives haven’t determined how they will market the new coffee in China and internationally, Starbucks said. The Yunnan-grown beans will be shipped to the U.S. for roasting. A roasting plant in Asia is inevitable, though the timing hasn’t yet been pegged, said Mr. Schultz.

Until now, Yunnan’s beans have been used only for lower-quality instant coffees. Nestlé, which has a 68% share of the instant market, started buying beans from Yunnan in the late 1980s. Since then, other leading coffee companies, such as Kraft Foods and Maxwell House, have been buying China’s arabica.

Starbucks plans to offer its Via instant coffee in China, but Mr. Schultz said he hasn’t settled on a date. “Consumers here need to develop a better understanding of the coffee culture first,” he said.

China has over the past decade encouraged farmers to swap out tea for coffee to bring in higher revenue and tax dollars. The Yunnan government plans to increase the amount of land it allocates for coffee growing and plans to invest three billion yuan in the next decade to increase coffee production to 200,000 tons annually from 38,000 tons.

Starbucks’ Chinese consumers have a long way to go to catch up to drinkers in other markets. Single-store sales in China average $600,000 compared to $1 million in the U.S., according to John Glass, a Morgan Stanley analyst.

Growth in China won’t be a problem, Mr. Schultz said. “We’re watching growth in smaller cities mirror what happened in Beijing and Shanghai,” he said. “It gives us confidence about long-term profitability.”

—Sue Feng contributed to this article.

USA TODAY chimed in:

Your morning “cup of Joe” may do more than deliver the jolt you need to get going — it may also help you stave off type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

"The beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP," said Ling Zheng,H. Darr Beiser, USATODAY

  • “The beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP,” said Ling Zheng,
 

H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

“The beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP,” said Ling Zheng,

Past research has suggested a link between coffee and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and now Chinese researchers behind the new study think they may know why that may be so. They found three major compounds in coffee that may provide potentially beneficial effects: caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine.

“These findings suggest that the beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP (human islet amyloid polypeptide),” Ling Zheng, professor of cellular biology at Wuhan University in China, and colleagues wrote.

Human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) is a substance normally found in the pancreas, according to background information in the study. Sometimes, however, abnormal protein deposits (toxic aggregation) arise from hIAPP. These abnormal deposits (amyloid fibrils) are found in people with type 2 diabetes, the study authors said.

The researchers wondered if blocking formation of these deposits could help prevent or treat type 2 diabetes, the more common form of the blood sugar disorder. The next step would be to find a substance that might prevent these deposits.

In 2009, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that people who drank the most coffee seemed to have the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That study reported that with each cup of coffee consumed daily, the risk of type 2 diabetes dropped by 7 percent.

So, the researchers behind the new study conducted laboratory experiments to see if compounds found in coffee could inhibit the production of the abnormal protein deposits associated with hIAPP.

Caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine — the three most common components in coffee, the study authors said — helped reduce the abnormal protein deposits, but caffeic acid appeared most effective.

“Our results suggest that caffeic acid had the greatest effects in the major components of coffee. The rankings for beneficial effects of coffee compounds against the toxic hIAPP aggregation are caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine,” Zheng and study co-author Kun Huang, professor of biological pharmacy at the Huazhong University of Science & Technology in Wuhan, explained in an email interview.

Because decaffeinated coffee contains even higher levels of caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid than caffeinated coffee, the beneficial effect may be even stronger for decaffeinated coffee, they added.

The investigators pointed out that this work has only been done in cells, so it’s not clear if this is how coffee might help prevent diabetes in the body.

A U.S. diabetes expert was guardedly optimistic about the study’s conclusions.

“Scientifically, this is a very nice paper, but it has its limitations,” said Dr. Vivian Fonseca, president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. “This was done in cells, not in animals or people. We also don’t know if the (abnormal deposits arising from hIAPP) are the most important thing in the development of type 2 diabetes, or if it’s something that develops later.”

In addition, Fonseca said, the study that found a link between a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and coffee was an epidemiological study. That means the study couldn’t prove cause and effect, only that there was an association between those two factors. It could be that people who drink coffee have other habits that lower their risk of diabetes.

The bottom line, said Fonseca, is it’s way too soon to make any recommendations about drinking coffee to prevent diabetes. But, he added, “if you want to prevent diabetes, there are some very straightforward things to do. You can walk for 30 minutes most days of the week, and reduce calories a little bit and reduce your weight a little.”

Zheng and Huang also pointed out that their study looked strictly at coffee. “Our study does not imply that the cream and sugar served with coffee will be beneficial for type 2 diabetes,” they said.

The study was funded by grants from various Chinese governmental agencies.

Results of the study were published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

On the Web:

www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/, the American Diabetes Association has more about preventing type 2 diabetes.

A number of older studies have shown that caffeine may increase your risk of developing diabetes. The theory is that the beneficial chemicals are able to offset the damage done by the caffeine. So drinking decaffeinated coffee would be the best bet if you are thinking of drinking coffee to prevent diabetes.

Tea also has an effect on diabetes. Drinking tea can improve insulin activity up to 15 times, and it can be black, green or oolong. Herbal teas don’t have any effect. The active compounds don’t last long in the body, so you would have to drink a cup or more of tea every few hours to maintain the benefit. The catch is that you should drink it without milk(even soy milk), because milk seems to interact with the necessary chemicals and render them unavailable to your body.

A Double Shot Of Profits For Coffee Stocks

Posted: Feb 22, 2011 11:15 AM by Billy Fisher
 
Filed Under: Stock Analysis,Stocks
Tickers in this Article: CBOUGMCRSBUXSJM

The temperature is getting hotter in the kitchen for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq:GMCR). Green Mountain, the maker of the Keurig single-serve coffee brewers, has seen its stock price rise 46.7% over the course of the last year. Over the last five years, the stock is up a ridiculous 1,285.0%. Investors looking for a pullback in this stock have been waiting a while, but finally got their opportunity on Thursday as the stock shed 7.7%.

A Battle Brewing
The drop in the price of GMCR shares seems to have been triggered by an internal memo at Starbucks (Nasdaq:SBUX) from the company’s CEO Howard Schultz. Various media outlets have reported that the memo indicated that Starbucks is readying itself to take aim at the single-serve coffee market that has been dominated by Green Mountain for some time now.

Although the specifics of Schultz’s plan are unknown to the public at this time, Schultz did indicate in his memo that the single-serve market is a $4 billion segment and is growing faster than any other segment in the global coffee industry.

Caribou Coffee Company (Nasdaq:CBOU), another competitor of Starbucks, already produces K-Cups that are compatible with Keurig brewers. Investors trying to gauge the current health of the coffee market need to look no further than Thursday’s fiscal Q3 earnings release from J. M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM) which showed that the company was able to pass off higher coffee prices to consumers in order to top analysts’ estimates.

The sector has already been immensely profitable for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which has been posting staggering top line and bottom line growth. In its recently reported Q1, the company put up a 67% increase in non-GAAP operating income over the prior year quarter. Net sales also surged 67% over the same time period.

The Bottom Line
It could be some time before we see how this battle between Green Mountain and Starbucks will play itself out. One thing seems to be certain, though, and that is that Starbucks is not going to sit back and let Green Mountain have a free pass in the single-serve market.

Starbucks is already making moves and last Tuesday it announced a deal in which it will partner with Courtesy Products to bring its coffee in a single-serve format to guests in 500,000 luxury and premium hotel rooms across the U.S. The question of the hour now is what the company’s next move will be on the single-serve front?  (Reading between the lines to decipher a company’s true financial condition is the key to understanding earnings reports. Check out How To Decode A Company’s Earnings Reports.)

 

Read more: http://stocks.investopedia.com/stock-analysis/2011/A-Double-Shot-Of-Profits-For-Coffee-Stocks-GMCR-SBUX-CBOU-SJM0222.aspx#ixzz1k2LwSbQN

RECOMMENDATIONS:

If you can’t quit coffee, stick with no more than 4 cups per day or switch to Decaf or better yet, water.

 

IF YOU’RE READY HERE’S HOW TO KICK THE HABIT

If caffeine owns you, it might be time to reassert yourself. Here’s what to do and what to avoid.

(Vetta photo)
October 19, 2011|By Julie Deardorff, Tribune Newspapers, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

For most people, a morning cup of java isn’t harmful. But if you rely on coffee to get you out of bed, to stave off midmorning headaches and to avoid the 3 p.m. crash, you may be hooked on one of the most popular drugs in the world.

Nearly 90 percent of American adults drink coffee on a regular basis. More than 50 percent of adults, meanwhile, consume just over three cups of coffee a day.

But caffeine is a tricky stimulant to shake. Though tolerance levels vary, drinking just 100 milligrams per day — the amount of a small cup of brewed coffee — and then giving it up can lead to withdrawal symptoms ranging from headaches and depression to flulike nausea and muscle pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Caffeine may have some health benefits, but so far research is weak. Some kinds of headaches cause blood vessels to widen; caffeine temporarily causes them to narrow. Coffee may also help reduce your risk of Parkinson’s disease.

But coffee — like sugary breakfast foods — can create a cycle of extreme energy swings. The National Institutes of Health also reports that caffeine raises blood pressure and increases feelings of stress, anxiety and road rage. It can leave you feeling wired 12 to 16 hours after the last cup, wreaking havoc on sleep. And it can exacerbate health conditions such as diabetes by making blood sugar rise faster than usual.

  1. To start weaning yourself off the joe, figure out how much caffeine you’re ingesting during the day, including soft drinks and energy drinks; if you can’t track it, it’s too much. Also try the following tips:
  2. Wake up and drink 8 ounces of water. This strategy seems to slow coffee consumption and also works if you have a morning diet or regular soda habit, said Brian Wansink, founder and director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and an expert on psychology and food consumption.
  3. Choose your approach. Some people can go cold turkey; others need to gradually reduce. “There’s no evidence that either approach is superior,” said James Lane, a caffeine researcher and professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center. If you’re a heavycoffee drinker — eight cups a day — gradual withdrawal can help prevent the dreaded headaches and fogginess. If you drink two cups, you may be able to bite the bullet. “Withdrawal symptoms most likely disappear in two or three days,” said Lane.
  4. Taper: To minimize withdrawal symptoms, gradually reduce the amount of caffeine by drinking half regular and half decaffeinated and gradually increasing the amount of decaf, said Ling Wong, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based nutrition and wellness coach. “You can also try tea — black or yerba mate — which has the richness of coffee without that much caffeine,” Wong said. “Rooibos is an herbal tea that has a rich body similar to black tea, without any caffeine. Green tea and white tea are also great choices,” she said.
  5. Try Sanka. After several unsuccessful attempts, Barry Maher said he managed to quit drinking several quarts of coffee a day by substituting “the worst-tasting coffee substitute that ever existed, Sanka. Nothing could have made me develop an aversion to coffee quicker than associating it with a vile brew like that,” said Maher, a professional speaker in Corona, Calif.
  6. Fruit juices might seem like a healthy option to coffee, but it’s better to avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages, whether it’s added or high natural sugar. “The stomach doesn’t feel full so the brain can’t know it, and you keep eating,” said physician and chef John LaPuma. “Because they boost glycemic load, they inflame arteries, disable insulin and clog up the beta-cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. They can also make the liver store fat. Not a pretty picture.” A better alternative? Sparkling water.

Healthy StartUps by Maria Dorfner

If you’re a male or female entrepreneur who wants to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban, listen up.  No, I’m not casting another Shark Tank.  

[Link to SharkTank & how to be on the show:  http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank]

ABC-TV is safe.  Mark Cuban is safe. And so is Mr. Quiggly.

A start-up is a business or undertaking that has recently begun operation.

A Healthy Start-Up is one that has founders that make their mental, physical and spiritual health a priority.  They know that if they are unhealthy, it infects the rest of their team and their company.  The same is true if they are  healthy.  People emulate those they admire.  If you’re a leader — you have the ability to influence others.  Influence them towards daily healthy habits.  Neglect your health.  Neglect your company.  Great leaders have already learned this valuable lesson.

Lead your team towards  healthy habits. Build a healthy company.

Successful companies are built with a strong foundation. Think about it.  If your own mind, body or spirit suffers, how can you possibly bring your best to team, employees, clients, customers, board or investors? The answer is you can not. Taking time to nourish those things daily is not selfish or time wasted, it’s actually selfless and time/energy gained to serve all the aforementioned best, as well as family and friends to bring life balance.

I believe Entrepreneurs need to think of their HEALTH as a BANK ACCOUNT.

Make deposits now.

Benefit later.  Health is Your Greatest Wealth.  Talk to any old rich person to confirm.

Here are 5 things you experience when working on a startup, which may affect health.

1.  You will be excited.  New start-up.  Woo-hoo!   I’ll work 24/7 on this!

 

2.  You will get too busy to prepare meals.  I’ll just order in a pizza.  Again.
 3.  You will experience information overload and sit at a computer for hours on end.
  
4.  You will get bummed out and not know why. (Refer back to #1, 2, 3)
5.   You will get tired and have no time for family or friends.
      REPEAT.  WHAT GOOD IS IT WHEN YOU, THE FOUNDER, ARE NO LONGER AROUND TO REAP THE BENEFITS BECAUSE WHAT YOU’VE REALLY BUILT IS AN EARLY GRAVE.  ALL 5 MAKE WITHDRAWALS IN YOUR ACCOUNT.

The good news is every day YOU get to decide which one you’ll do.

Your aim is to make DEPOSITS into what I call a HEALTHY START-UP ACCOUNT.

HERE’S HOW: 

1.  You will be excited.

You are running on adrenaline.  Your dream team is in place.  You have a great team in place.  You have a vision. You’re executing on it. You’re making sales. You’re gaining traction. You’re meeting with potential investors. Exciting. So exciting you can’t sleep.

Tips to sleep:  Create a dark area at room temperature (not too hot, not too cold) with a fan or quiet music (no gadgets!).  Remember, you are excited and may be running off of adrenaline. But the same adrenaline will zap your energy and exhaust you if you don’t regulate your daily sleep.  Set a regular time for turning in and try to get away from technology and relax your mind beforehand. Step outside, stretch, breathe.

SLEEP is a DEPOSIT.  Repeat that with me.  Sleep is a deposit into your Healthy Start-Up.

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. ~Winston Churchill

Here is expert advice from sleep specialists Dr. Kingman Strohl of University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Dr. Joe Golish of MetroHealth Medical Center, and Dr. Douglas Moul of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation:

Go to sleep an hour ahead of time.  Same time.  Every night.

Don’t just jump into bed — start your sleep ritual an hour or two ahead of time. And, this is crucial: Try to go to bed at the same time every single day. Discern what the best time for you is and go for that, consistently. Don’t tough your way through your sleepy hours and chance getting a second wind.

Avoid all stimulants.

• That means caffeine in any form (it’s OK to drink some in the morning, but not cup after cup after cup), watching TV, working out, doing anything online (the blue light given off by TV and computers have shown to be disruptive to the pre-sleep cycle), arguing with a family member. Consciously cultivate peacefulness before bedtime. No alcohol before bedtime either (if you fall asleep, you’ll likely wake up again in a few hours).

No worrying!

• Let go of anxiety about going to sleep, and of worrisome thoughts. This isn’t easy, and it takes practice. “You can’t change the world,” Strohl says. “Remember that!”  It’s okay to read an enjoyable, but not too stimulating book, which can take your mind off worries.

lavender-as-sleep-aid.jpg
Lavender is surprisingly effective.

• Good sleep habits are imperative, says Strohl. It’s important to remember that everyone has insomnia at some point and hardly anyone falls asleep right away. We really shouldn’t, because it takes awhile for our bodies and brains to wind down.  In fact, says Strohl, “If you are falling asleep within five minutes of your head hitting the pillow, then you are sleep-deprived.”

Cool, dark room with lavender mist.

Do things to create a supportive sleep environment: Make your room cool and dark, don’t have a TV or computer in it, spray a lavender mist on your pillow (it is supposed to be surprisingly effective for promoting drowsiness).  If you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and read for a while in a chair or in another room. When you get sleepy again, get back into bed. This way you won’t associate your bed with your inability to sleep.

What about herbs and supplements?

• Some people use melatonin, a dietary supplement available over the counter, to help them sleep. But be careful: the strength of it varies because the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements. Your doctor, however, can prescribe a melatoninlike drug (Rozerem orthe generic ramelteon, a melatonin receptor) as an alternative.  Some people say valerian, another herb, works for them, but doctors say studies have shown that might just be a placebo effect.

What about prescriptions?

• Try reconditioning your brain. If you are taking a prescription sleep aidand want to stop, start taking it with a glass of warm milk, Strohl says. Tell your brain the milk is making you sleepy. Then, after a week or two, just drink the milk. Your brain is highly suggestible, so this will work — you will establish the thought that milk is what makes you sleepy.

• If you decide to stop taking your prescription sleep medication, it’s best to do it on a weekend or when you have a couple of days off. You will toss and turn for a few nights, but, doctors say, your body will adjust. You have to be patient and give it a few days.

What about coffee during the day?

If you’re tired during the day as a result, beware of compensating with caffeine. As doctors point out, a regular cup of the coffee that we drink today (and it’s usually not a cup if you measure it out, but two or three) has twice as much caffeine as it used to. The same goes for energy drinks or caffeinated soft drinks. They will affect your ability to sleep.

As I agree with staying away from coffee, this article is recommending which coffee maker to use.  A Tech Guy’s Version of the Perfect Cup of Coffee.  I kid you not.  http://uncrunched.com/2012/01/09/a-tech-guys-version-of-the-perfect-cup-of-coffee/.

I find it funny because I realize getting coffee away from people in Silicon Valley, NYC or any Urban Jungle is like getting shoes away from Imelda Marcos. Addictions to either (shoes or coffee) aren’t healthy. Period.  One or two cups in the morning  is fine, but most people crash mid-afternoon and reach for more.

It’s not going to be easy to stop drinking coffee if you’re addicted to it.

If it would completely stress you out to quit your coffee addiction right now, try taking breaks.  Try white tea (15mg caffeine) vs. coffee (120 mg caffeine).

2.  You will be too busy to eat right.

BREAKFAST, LUNCH and DINNER and spending time OUTDOORS are a DEPOSIT.

Remember when you wake up ready to go to work exclaiming you’re not hungry and just want coffee –that’s a withdrawal in a healthy company leader.  That’s you.   I’m a big fan of protein in the morning. Protein contains tyrosine, an amino acid that elevates the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. It makes you feel full too, so you don’t overeat. Protein keeps your metabolism steady. Two eggs in the morning. Ten almonds and water or tea mid-morning before lunch rolls around prevents  rollercoaster highs and lows.  If you can be outside –the fresh air will do you good. Breathe in the fresh air. If you’re in NYC, unless you  can see trees, disregard.  Also, whenever you have a meeting –if you can have it outdoors .  If you can walk and talk (I always say, “Let’s be like West Wing…”) –even better.  All healthy deposits in you and your team.  Relaxing together eating a healthy and leisurely meal is wonderful too.

 

3.  You will be on information overload.

MEDITATION is a DEPOSIT.

Emails, Meetings, Conferences, Phone, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Trade Magazines, Trade Shows, etc. can drain you mentally.  Take breaks. Once you do, you’ll take more of them because you’ll notice a positive difference in how you feel engaging in your real community instead of the on-line one.

Computers can be illusions.  You won’t recognize when your inbox or online activity really looks like THIS.  But you’ll feel it. Before computers, we could visually see when we were “swamped.”  Now, it’s hidden. Ten thousand emails. Five are vital. Don’t sweat it. Set technical boundaries. Give yourself at least an hour each day when you are away from all electronic devices.  The more, the better.

Whenever you stop to check in with the real you without devices —it re-energizes you. Just 3-minutes of meditating will make you more alert.  I recommend doing so first thing in the morning when you wake and again at noon and 3 p.m. These mini-meditation breaks will energize you and keep you focused.  Smile at and deep breathe.  Breathe 10 seconds (count to 10 slowly) inhale and 10 seconds exhale.

Science and technology reporter, Daniel Sieberg wrote a book called, “The Digital Diet”  I recommend.   His 4-step plan to help you regain control, focus, and true connection in your life are as follows (but pick up the book for details):

Step 1//Re: Think:

Consider how technology has overwhelmed our society and the effect it’s had on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Step 2//Re: Boot:

Take stock of your digital intake using Sieberg’s Virtual Weight Index and step back from the device.

Step 3//Re: Connect:

Focus on restoring the relationships that have been harmed by the technology in your life.

Step 4//Re: Vitalize:

Learn how to live with technology—the healthy way, by optimizing your time spent e-mailing, texting, on Facebook, and web surfing  in  this book.

4.  You will get bummed out.   Meetings will get cancelled.  Things may not move as quickly as you’d like.  Frustrations at limited resources to compete will happen.  You will get bummed out.  That is why it’s so important for you to stay in top mental, physical and spiritual form.  You will be able to overcome challenges when you are healthy.

On a daily basis,  projects can pile on stress.  Get up every 15 minutes and stretch or walk around.  Exercise.  Break  it up into 15 minutes of activity if you can’t break away for longer. Walk. Run. Climb stairs. Breathe deeply.  Repeat. Take breaks to get outside as often as you can during the day.

Be centered. Centered people do not react. When something happens outside of them –they can reflect on it.  Anyone who reacts immediately in a highly emotional state isn’t centered.  No good decision is ever made out of anger. Remember that.  If you are going to run a company –your ability to remain calm and make good decisions is a must.  It sounds odd, but you actually have to practice being calm.  Test it out with family members. When someone says something that pushes your buttons –practice not reacting.   Breathe. Observe.  Don’t react.  If you have to silently count to 100 inside. The situation may diffuse by the time you get to one hundred.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. John F. Kennedy

5.  You will get tired. – Start back at #1.

In summary, don’t be one of those founders that brags and boats about not  getting any sleep or living on coffee. It sends the wrong message to your team.  Be a healthy example.  Surround yourself with a healthy team.  Build a healthy company or companies.

Consider this advice (some is the same) from local CEOs, published in SMART CEO Magazine.

Meditate: You don’t have to be a monk,
but find that one activity that can
always relax you to re-center your mind.

English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone...
Image via Wikipedia

Make it a plan: Schedule your activities
like you would schedule a meeting –
and don’t skip it. Personal time is just
as important as business time.

Get involved:

Supporting community

events and nonprofi t organizations
provides a great opportunity for teambuilding and giving back.

Define your goals: What do you want to
accomplish? Defi ne it, and chase after
it. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you
have a vision.

QUOTES:

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.
Mohandas Gandhi

Healthy discontent is the prelude to progress.
Mohandas Gandhi

Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets.

Henry Ford

RELATED ARTICLES/LINKS:

I recommend a copy of Mark Cuban’s book. In one day, the slim under-100-page book, titled “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It,” soared to the top of the bestseller charts at the big online book-buying sites, with particularly strong sales onAmazoniTunes and Barnes & Noble.

Here’s an excerpt from Mark Cuban’s book:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222524

For More Information on Mark Cuban and Mr. Quiggley’s red matching Skechers, please visit:

http://www.skechers.com

 

Related articles:R

 

Surround yourself with healthy, positive, can-do/will-do people. It makes a huge difference in execution, results, growth, success and being a healthy founder with a thriving, healthy company that values a balanced life and health as your greatest wealth.

 

 

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. ~Winston Churchill


Fitness Benefits Gains Insurers Healthy Elderly, Study Finds

Image

By Sarah Frier

(Updates with UnitedHealth comments in 10th paragraph.)

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) — The offer of a fitness club membership is helping insurers including UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc. draw healthier and less costly patients to their Medicare programs, said researchers reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study found 35.3 percent of new enrollees in a fitness membership benefit plan reported “excellent” or “very good” health, compared with 29.1 percent in the group without the benefit. The number of plans offering the memberships rose to 58 in 2008 from 4 in 2002, the researchers said.

The five largest insurers are looking to expand their roles in offering government-subsidized health plans as the number of Americans covered by them grows under the 2010 U.S. health law. In doing so, the companies may try to “cherry pick” members who are more likely to be healthy using the fitness memberships, said Amal Trivedi, an assistant professor of community health at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and the author of the report released yesterday.

“In general, the government’s goal is to have plans compete on their value to Medicare beneficiaries, and not on their ability to cherry pick the healthiest patients,” Trivedi said in a telephone interview. “They have still found a way to do that in a market that’s very regulated.”

Researchers compared about 5,000 people using 11 Medicare Advantage plans offering fitness-club memberships with those who didn’t receive the benefit. The research by Trivedi and Alicia Cooper was based on patient self-reporting, and the groups weren’t randomly assigned to plans.

Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage is a U.S.-supported program in which managed-care health plans are sold by commercial insurers. The plans cover and help coordinate medical services, physician fees and hospitalizations and offer benefits not offered by traditional Medicare plans. The U.S. prescription drug program for the elderly is regulated so companies can’t deny coverage for high-risk members.

Cigna Corp. has a Medicare Advantage HMO plan in Arizona that offers a program that reimburses $200 for fitness classes, said Leigh Woodward, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia-based company, in an e-mailed response to questions.

“The Golden Vitality program isn’t part of a strategy to get a healthier risk pool, but part of our overall health and wellness strategy, which aligns with Cigna’s mission to help the people we serve improve their health, well-being and sense of security,” she said.

‘Popular’ Program

Humana’s program “is very popular with our members,” said Jim Turner, a spokesman for the Louisville, Kentucky-based insurer, in an e-mail. “The main reason is to help our members stay physically active and live healthier lives.”

Advantage programs are required to offer benefits that aren’t part of the traditional Medicare plans, said Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesman. “We work hard to combine a benefit package that offers value to our members. This includes gym memberships when possible,” he said in an e-mail.

Cynthia Michener, an Aetna Inc. spokeswoman, said in an e- mail that the company provides health incentives in programs besides Medicare and government programs, and is not reacting to regulation. Jill Becher of WellPoint Inc. didn’t return a request for comment.

The government has added standard benefits packages, risk- adjusted payment and guaranteed coverage to balance the industry, said Trivedi, whose study was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.

The commercial business accounts for less than half of the combined revenue for insurers for the first time in at least two decades, according to a Bloomberg Government report. Quarterly revenue from Medicare, the U.S. program for the elderly and disabled, increased by one third, to $16.4 billion, from the third quarter of 2008 to the same period in 2011 for the four largest insurers that reported figures.

Advantage plans may produce a $10 billion increase in revenue by 2015 as more baby boomers retire, industry analysts have said.

Sources: 

–Editor: Andrew Pollack, Bruce Rule

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Frier in New York at sfrier1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.