the consolation of philos– er, coffee … is it bad for you?

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It’s a legit question. Did you know that 20 million buckets of coffee are consumed world-wide … a day? No wonder everyone’s a little concerned whether or not coffee is “healthy”. Google it, and you’ll find countless articles saying that yes, it’s healthy, and others that say it’s definitely not.

So, what’s the answer?

I did some research, and this is what I found (& wrote). I will leave it for you to decide.

There seems to be this hype about whether or not drinking coffee is a healthy habit (of course, usually the people who don’t drink coffee are the ones condemning it, and those who drink it are defending it). If you’ve never heard of all this commotion, don’t feel bad. You will be enlightened. Drinking coffee (in moderation) is healthy, because it lowers the risk of certain diseases, it is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, it makes you smarter, it helps you burn fat & peaks your physical performance, it raises your energy level and your mood, and it can decrease your risk of dying. (Yes, you read that right.)

Of course, before we move on, I want to make a couple things thing clear. If you’re drinking so much coffee, you start to have tremors, have problems sleeping, get anxious, headaches, or feel uncomfortable, then, obviously you are drinking too much. And let me also define what I mean by “coffee”: not the sugar-filled, artificially flavored stuff you get at your local coffee stand (sorry, Dutch Bros. fans). I mean the stuff you brew at home, complimented with some cream and a small amount of sugar.

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First, it can help you ward off serious diseases. Popular Science (website) states, “Type II diabetes is a lifestyle-related disease that has reached epidemic proportions, having increased 10-fold in a few decades and now afflicting about 300 million people.” In observational studies, coffee has repeatedly been associated with lowering this disease. They continued, “A massive review article looked at 18 studies with a total of 457.922 participants. Each additional cup of coffee per day lowered the risk of diabetes by 7%. The more coffee people drank, the lower their risk.” Bottom line: People who drink several cups per day are the least likely to become diabetic. Coffee drinkers are also 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia, according to the European Journal of Neurology (Volume 9, Issue 4). And it may lower the risk of Parkinson’s by 32-60%, according to other studies. Coffee appears to be protective against certain liver disorders, lowering the risk of liver cancer by 40% and cirrhosis by as much as 80%, Susanna C. Larsson shows in her article on the Gastroenterology website. This information is also validated by the Mayo Clinic.

Second, coffee is chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants. One cup contains 6% of the RDA for Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), 11% of the RDA for Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), 2% of the RDA for Niacin (B3) and Thiamine (B1), and 3% of the RDA for Potassium and Manganese. This may not seem like much, but it adds up when you drink several cups a day. Coffee is also said to be the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined, according to The Journal of Nutrition and an experiment held by the NCBI

Third, it can make you smarter. One of the more major ingredients in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant that also helps your memory and brain function.

Fourth, it aids in weight loss. Did you know that caffeine is contained in most commercial fat-burning supplements? Caffeine is one of the few natural substances that has been proven to help burn fat (10% in obese individuals and 29% in lean people) and boost metabolism by 3-11%. It also peaks your physical performance in the gym drastically. It increases Epinephrine (Adrenaline) levels in the blood, which are designed to make our bodies ready for intense physical exertion. This makes the fat cells break down body fat, releasing them into the blood as free fatty acids and making them available as fuel. So no wonder it boosts performance by 11-12% on average! A lot of people like to have a strong cup of coffee about a half an hour before they head to the gym.

Fifth, it raises your energy level and your mood. Coffee makes you feel less tired and more energized, according to an investigation held by Karger Neuropsychobiology. In a Harvard study published in 2011, women who drank four or more cups a day had 20% less chance of becoming depressed, and another study with 208, 424 individuals found that those who drank the same amount were 53% less likely to commit suicide.
Last, in two large studies, drinking coffee was associated with a 20% lower risk of death in men and a 26% in women, over a period of 18-24 years. And in type II diabetics, there was 30% lower risk of death during a 20 year period. (What is more motivating than that?)

Thus, I have shown you six legit reasons why you should drink coffee. If these reasons don’t change you mind, I’m not sure what will. Coffee has many health advantages, and it promotes long life so we are able to do the things we love.

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keepin’ it real {pt 2} — this crazy, wild, beautiful mess

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Sometimes I think that one of these days, I’ll finally come to that stage when I get straight A’s, always look (and feel) put together, always smell nice, always say the right things things, am never lazy, don’t stress out about that other sock I can’t find, and always feel confident in who I am & what I look like, not ever caring how people think of me.
But …

Who am I kidding?!

I mean, really.

Rachel, not-scrambling-around-in-the-morning? Rachel, not-clumsy? Rachel, all of a sudden an academic genius?

No. Just … no.

No matter how hard I try, I could never be perfect. Not even close.

I have this thing where, for awhile, I’ll think, “Well, if only I read my Bible every day, God would love me more” or “Man, maybe if I actually tried to be more fashionable, or outgoing, or funny, or fitter, or smarter, or if I actually wore makeup, or just be … plain awesome …  people might like me more ” or “Maybe if I did more ‘good things’, God would be happier with me.”

I don’t know about you, but I have this tendency to put this un-realistic, un-attainable, un-reachable standard on myself, this person I *have* to be, before I grow up, before I get married, and right now, or else … well, I risk the thing I fear most. I’m paranoid that people will see me for who I really am — all my flaws, sin, and less-than-glamorous person — and will not like me, accept me, and … will reject me. There. I said it. I know it probably seems silly, (and, yeah, probably because it is), but it’s true. Oh, it’s so true.

 

“So you see, I’m kind of a mess.  A crazy, wild, weird sort of mess.  And I’ve learned to accept it and embrace it.  Because that mess is who I am.  I used to be so envious of girls who seemed like they had it altogether.  They had the perfect room – completely color schemed, with matching furniture, did well in their school, could afford everything they wanted, and a little more.  Had the perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect body shape.  But I realized that what may look like perfect on the outside is just my definition of it.
I know one thing for sure, though.  I know that my heart is in the right place because I know that God is my everything.  And no matter how imperfect I think I am, this is just the way He made me and I can embrace it with my whole soul because He loves the way He made me and He loves me just the way I am.  I will fulfill His calling on my life every day that I live.  I will use … my talents, my gifts, my craziness to tell others about Him.  I will be crazy for Jesus, cuz oh does He know I’m crazy in love with Him.  I will not let worldly, worthless things get in the way of my joy in Him or distract me from what God has placed in my heart.  I was born for so much more than that.  I was born for His purpose.  And what a comforting and fulfilling thought to know that through Christ, I can do all things.” ~ Raquel

my true love <3

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{photo credit to thegreyconcept.tumblr.com. text added by me.}

I know it’s not leprechaun day anymore, but that does not stop me from drinking my favorite kind of coffee of all time — irish creme! And it couldn’t be easier to make 😀

Thanks to a friend of mine, I have a recipe for it! She used this recipe:

homemade irish creme

{from taste of home, by marcia severson}

about 5 servings

*can be iced or hot*

ingredients

— 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

— 1 cup heavy whipping cream

— 1/2 cup milk

— 1/8 to 1/4 cup granulated sugar (to taste)

— 2 tbsp chocolate syrup

— 1 tbsp instant coffee granules

— 2 tsp vanilla

— 1/4 tsp almond extract

— 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee

directions

1. In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the freshly brewed coffee. Blend until smooth. (And, remember, this won’t be a liquid-y creamer. It’ll be cream!) If you want to save it for later, you can store in the fridge.

2. For each serving, place brewed coffee in your favorite mug. Stir in 1/3 cup irish cream mixture. (Heat it up in a microwave, if needed.)

3. Voila!

 

{And by the way, I *would* have inserted my own picture, but I am really bad at taking cute, coffee-esque pictures 😀 )

wake up to the benefits of breakfast!

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It’s time that America wakes up to the benefits of a healthy breakfast. According to Food Insight’s 2009 Food and Health Survey, 93% of Americans agree that breakfast is an important meal, however, less than half (44%) are actually eating it every morning. You’re probably wondering “What’s the big deal?”, but there are so many reasons against omitting the first meal of the day, I cannot list all of them to you, but I will give you a handful: it makes you gain weight, your brain and memory will pay for it, and you will lack energy to do the things you love. I will show you the comparisons of those who don’t eat breakfast and then those who do.

Firstly, I will tell you about non-breakfast eaters. A lot of people tend to skip breakfast thinking they’ll lose some weight, but this is not the case. In WebMD’s harshly titled article “Skip Breakfast, Get Fat” they say that forgoing the first meal of the day actually tricks your brain into thinking you want more unhealthy foods — foods that can make you fat, or at least increase your risk for weight gain. A team from Imperial College London held a study on this. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at how eating affects the brain’s “reward” center. The study involved 20 healthy, non-obese people who skipped breakfast before the exam. For the test, they looked at random pictures of fattening food (like pizza, cake, burgers, chocolate, etc) and healthy, wholesome food (such as vegetables, fish, and salad). The brain’s reward center lit up more intensely (i.e. became more active) when the person saw the unhealthy food as opposed to a healthier choice. On the flip side of the coin, when the participants ate breakfast and had the same exam an hour and a half after they ate, the brain’s reward center did not show any greater activity. When asked to rate the appeal of each food picture, those who did not eat breakfast craved the junk food more than the other food, but after they ate, they looked at the pictures again and those cravings ceased.

When you skip breakfast, your metabolism will go into famine mode. Three or four hours after you eat, your metabolism will shut down and act as if it needs to store food. This is a blessing when there is actually a famine, and you can’t eat for days, your body has the function to put on pounds to protect you from starving. However, this is probably not the case for most people. More than likely, you are trying to get rid of fat by skipping breakfast. But when you do that your body will actually store fat. By eating breakfast, you are communicating to your body that you are well-fed and healthy, and in no need of extra fat storage.

It will also impact your energy. The majority of Americans drink coffee in the morning to compensate for the tiredness, but think again. People who only drink coffee still do not perform as well on memory tests as those who eat breakfast.
Are you ready for the contrast? Breakfast eaters do significantly better than those who skip breakfast (as long as it’s a good, wholesome, healthy breakfast). Having a sharp metabolism is an important part of weight loss. If you don’t eat between dinner time the night before and lunch the day after can add up to 18 hours without food. For the entire morning, instead of working at peak rates and burning off more calories, your body will be trying to conserve everything it can. Studies following people who have lost weight and kept it off for more than a year show that 80 percent of them include breakfast in their eating plans. In an article called written by Live Science, they stated “In one recent study, people who ate breakfast as their largest meal lost an average of 17.8 pounds over three months. The other participants consumed the same number of total calories per day, but ate most of their calories at dinner, according to the study published in July in the journal Obesity. The large-dinner group only lost an average of 7.3 pounds each over the same time period.” Also, in a 2003 study from the American Journal of Epidemiology, results concluded that people who skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to be obese than those who take a morning meal.

A 2005 Journal of the American Dietetic Association review found that eating breakfast is likely to improve cognitive function related to memory and test grades. In other words, breakfast keeps you smart! Researchers found that when people ate a high-fiber, low-carb breakfast, they had more energy throughout the day compared with people who didn’t eat breakfast at all.
Let’s face it, eating breakfast is one of those things we know we should do but we skip it anyway. Let’s change that. Think about how better we’ll all feel, and how healthier we’ll be in the long run. It’s time to revolutionize America’s eating habits, and we can start with breakfast.

** disclaimer: I do not encourage counting calories, even though I referred to this term in this post. I think it’s bad psychologically (but that’s a whole other post!)