RSS

Tag Archives: health

The small matter of integrity

Recently I was approached by a guy I met briefly several years ago when we were setting up Dr. Coffee’s Café – he (or at least, someone on his team) actually designed our logo and signage for us. I remembered him because he was very personable, seemed like the type who ought to be the patron of some amateur theatre troupe. And also because we had a meeting in Robin’s, where the coffee was so bad I threw up in the bathroom (mainly due to pregnancy, I should add). Anyway, that was early 2015. I am amazed he remembered me!

He is no longer making signs. Instead, he wanted to talk to me about an amazing business opportunity. Alarm bells rang. I am wary about that sort of sales pitch. However, he told me it was coffee related, so always worth checking out, I reckon.

230px-instant_coffee

Coffee in the very loosest sense, apparently. The poor guy has got himself mixed up with Valentus. It’s one of those MLM schemes and he was trying to recruit me into the bottom of a strangely triangular type of business model, if you get my drift. The product that allows you “an opportunity for an extraordinary life” and a global business that you can run from home, with the chance to make 6-figure monthly incomes, is called Slim-Roast. This magical substance is part energy-drink, part weight-loss supplement and part soluble coffee.

Not one part of that last sentence enamors me to the product.

According to Valentus’ website, this drink powder is

Great for:

  • Controls appetite
  • Regulates sugar absorption
  • Regulates fat absorption
  • Promotes brain health and focus
  • Elevates mood
  • Antioxidant

Aside from the obvious grammar error, black coffee manages all of that on its own with neither the bizarre additives nor the hefty price tag.  Apparently though, this is coffee mixed with green tea extract, l-theanine (also a green tea extract) and cacoa (raw chocolate) AND added caffeine. This all produces a substance with 127mg of caffeine for every 8oz fluid ounces, which is roughly double the strength of a can of Red Bull, but without the sugar.

As I have said before, caffeine itself doesn’t actually give you an energy boost (you get that from the sugar in most energy drinks). Instead, you feel more alert after a caffeine boost because caffeine molecules inhibit adenosine receptors in the brain, which are the bit that makes you feel tired. You’re not actually any less tired if you drink coffee, you just don’t feel it until your body metabolises the caffeine. Caffiene already does all the other stuff to some extent: it’s a minor appetitie supressent, it boosts your mood and helps you focus, keeps your brain healthy and can boost your metabolism. But in excess it leads to anxiety, insomnia and hypertension. There is no good reason to add more caffeine to an already beneficial caffeinated drink.

The green tea, the cacao and then ‘green coffee bean extract’ AND extra chlorogenic acid (again with the overkill) are all supposed to increase your anti-oxident intake. It’s also, somehow, made soluable. I wrote about why this is bollocks here.

There is also ‘Garcinia Cambogia’ (tamarind, in other words) which is touted as another appetite suppressant, and Phaseolamin (derived from cannelli beans) that apparently stops your guts from digesting some starches so they pass through you without you taking in so many calories. The key bit there is ‘passing through you’. What is another thing coffee is well known for? Making you poop. The coffee and the raw coffee extract, the tamarind, the phaseolamin and the other superfluous additives come together to form one big … laxative. I guess that would help you lose weight then.

YUCK.

Inevitably though, the product is NOT the main focus of this enterprise. No, this guy was not looking to sell Slim Roast to me, he wanted to recruit me to sell it to other people. I’d have to agree to buy a certain amount from Valentus, and I’d only start getting commission on it if I sell a specific amount every month. The real money only starts when you recruit four people, as you then get commission off their sales too. Ignoring the way the products play in to the cult of being busy, fetishizing stress and the need for constant energy and alertness, or preying on people’s body insecurities (yeah, I really don’t like this stuff!) – someone, somewhere is going to get ripped off. The whole thing relies on people feeding money upwards, and not everyone is going to succeed.

As this guy correctly points out, coffee, weight loss products and energy drinks are all massive global industries right now. I am sure there is a huge market out there for this stuff, somewhere. But it’s not a market I want to step foot into. I am a coffee geek, that’s my passion. I don’t think I am capable of selling anything I don’t believe in, and putting my name to any sort of psuedoscience-hyped coffee derivitive would be the ultimate sell-out. I’ve accepted the fact that my business passion projects are never going to make me rich, and that is fine. I’d much rather be poor and drink real coffee!!

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Caffeine, health and quacks on the internet.

Stop EVERYTHING!! Somebody is WRONG on the internet!!!!

The husband is groaning at me again because he knows full well a RANT is forthcoming. This time, someone with a book to promote, posted some coffee-related claptrap on LinkedIn. Sadly, LinkedIn limits the space you have to write comments so I couldn’t do my righteous indignation justice on there, so it will have to go here instead.

The article (HERE) basically demonises caffeine. under the guise that it apparently stops you working calmly and productively. First of all, surely this depends a great deal on what your work actually is. In my day job, coffee is the ONLY thing that enables me to stay awake and focused, not because I’m tired but because my work is so tedious and repetitive. I fail to see how staying alert with your brain firing on all cylinders can ever be a problem in a work environment, unless you’re a yoga instructor or something. Excessive consumption can inevitably lead to hypertension, anxiety and insomnia, but then true excess of anything is never good for you. Caffeine is fine, as long as you are sensible about it. One commenter on the original article supports it, saying that she used to drink 20 cups a day and had all sorts of health problems. Go figure.

The article appears to be trying to argue that caffeine doesn’t actually improve your alertness; it claims coffee offers a short term, quick fix. You feel tired, you drink coffee, it wakes you up and peps you for a bit, but then it wears off, you feel “withdrawal” symptoms (largely psychosomatic in most cases, but also linked to dehydration, ie: headaches and migraines), then having another cup returns you to “normal” mode rather than giving you an actual boost again. This is a strong argument for (psychological) addiction, as it suggests that you’d need to drink more each time to get the same buzz effect. However, this is not in itself harmful. In fact, it is only unpleasant if you do ‘withdraw’ from caffeine. You’ll get the headaches and lethargy if you don’t have your morning coffee, but then, why shouldn’t you just drink it?

This study from the University of Vermont details what actually causes the withdrawal headache, but also, interestingly, shows how there is no net benefit of continued caffeine consumption, ie: you don’t get more and more and more alert by drinking coffee every day, it does it’s job, it wears off, rinse, repeat. The crucial bit here is IT WEARS OFF. The article appears to be trying to argue that being in a constant state of hyper-alertness, the adrenaline-charged fight or flight instinct is not good for staying cool, calm collected and focused at work – well, true, but you only get to that pepped up state through excessive consumption – in which case, you will also get the come-down and the withdrawal. A few cups of coffee to ease the tedium of a corporate office job do not have these effects.

Caffeine wakes you up by latching on to adenosine receptors in the brain. For a more technical explanation, try this article but in brief, adenosine is a chemical produced naturally in the brain that tells your body to rest. The adenosine molecules latch on to receptors in the brain, and suddenly you start feeling sleepy. Caffeine just gets in the way. Caffeine molecules are similar enough to adenosine molecules that they can attach to the adenosine receptors instead. When this happens, your brain never gets the message that it needs to rest, and so you don’t feel sleepy. As soon as your body processes and rids itself of the caffeine, the receptors are freed up, and adenosine can seep back in, and low and behold, you feel sleepy again. Caffeine therefore only inhibits the adenosine that is already there. If you are not tired nor sleepy to begin with, then the caffeine won’t misplace anything and you won’t automatically feel tired as soon as the caffeine wears off, and won’t get the withdrawal either.

This is all very short term. The cycle of adenosine displacement and replacement takes place over a period of a few hours at most. The article says nothing of the long term effects of caffeine consumption, most of which are highly beneficial. This study shows that long term caffeine consumption can protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia (particularly acute in women, apparently). This one suggests coffee reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Here’s one saying that it prevents prostate cancer. This one demonstrates how coffee acts as an antidepressant (again, particularly for women), and this one even goes as far as to say “Drinking Coffee Reduces Suicide Risk by 50%” (you can guess which of these is my favourite piece of click-bait!). All mightily good stuff. And yes, for the record, there are also many articles about coffee/caffeine being bad for anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, kidney stones, other forms of diabetes, and osteoporosis. It’s all about balance. If you’re a stressed out, obese insomniac with brittle bones, then maybe you should leave it out, nd consult a doctor who didn’t write their thesis in the geography department.

My final problem with the original LinkedIn article is the claim that “coffee has a 6 hour half-life…Have a cup of joe at eight a.m., and you’ll still have 25% of the caffeine in your body at eight p.m”. Tellingly, there are no sources cited for that little gem.  In an average, healthy person, the body metabolises the caffeine in one cup of coffee in 2-3 hours, less if you have a high metabolic rate or if you have already built up a good tolerance to it. So, it’s only likely to prevent you from sleeping if you drink a cup within 3 hours of going to bed. This metabolism time doubles for heavily pregnant women though, and also stays in infants’ systems via breastmilk for far longer, so caffeine in late pregnancy and while breastfeeding is not advisable – unless of course, you are aware of how long it takes to process and don’t exceed that rate of consumption. If your body takes 3 hours to rid itself of the caffeine, then you can have a coffee every three hours with no withdrawal and no effects of excess either. As already shown, having the caffeine in your system is not in itself harmful anyway.

Yes, I do love my coffee and will defend it, and I dare say that makes me biassed. But I defend it with some verifiable evidence. I would love you to buy my coffee and even better,.buy my book, but the book is not really about caffeine or health benefits or lifestyle choices at all. Unlike the author of the original article. Grab a coffee, have a read and make up your own alert, happy, awake minds!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Nescafe’s “Green Blend”

I regularly scream at the TV every time the Nescafe advert comes on anyway – the campaign about “capturing coffee at it’s brightest” offends the very core of my being, having seen the mouldy, rotten, stinking beans that make their way into instant coffee… However, recently it has got worse. Recently, Nescafe have launched their “Green Blend”
The health benefits of coffee – NESCAFE

My first reaction was of course What the….??? (less politely, obviously)
But you better believe it baby… Nescafe are in fact trying to sell you coffee that is 35% RAW, on health grounds.
This is utter rubbish.
1. It is a fair assessment that the process used to create instant/soluable coffee would remove any nutritional value anyway.
2. I am fairly certain it isn’t possible to make instant coffee with raw coffee beans:
 -> Green coffee beans are inert – the human body cannot digest them. It’s a little like eating raw corn, it just goes straight through you.
Instant coffee is made by grinding roasted coffee, making huge batches of filter coffee from it, the boiling and boiling the filtered coffee until only a dry residue is left, which is then put in to jars. This is the only way you can make coffee completely soluable -and also why instant coffee tastes nothing like the real thing. Some companies (and I don;t know about Nestle, so I can’t prove this) – actually have to recreate the smell and taste of real coffee by adding artificial flavourings back in to it afterwards, since the process of making it soluable removes so much of the flavour. This is perfectly legal, and they can still claim it’s ‘made using 100% arabica coffee beans.”… But anyway – roasting is vital to this process, because without roasting, the coffee cannot release any of its oils, flavours, acids or nutrients into the water when making the filter coffee. If you mix water with ground up green coffee beans, you just get water with green beans in it. Therefore, if Nescafe are actually adding 35% raw beans to their blend, it means they’d just end up with instant coffee with a third less flavour than normal. OR, they could be adding the green beans after they’ve made the roasted ones soluable – in which case when you make a cup of this stuff, you should end up with green grit in the bottom of your cup. I shall have to dare to buy some and test this theory.

3. The health claims are also a)entirely unnecessary, and b) entirely meaningless. More on this later on. Nescafe seem to have borrowed a cupper to test their latest product – which is akin to getting a professional sommelier to taste Lambrini. But point being, you can’t taste green coffee for the reasons given above, and you certainly can’t taste anti-oxidants….
Here are some reactions to Nescafe’s promotional video from other people which I rather liked:

 “I love the expert view at the bottom. A nutritionist?!? The word is dietitian.”

“To claim oneself to be a dietitian, is to say that you have a degree in dietetics and are a registered health care professional with all the responsibility that goes with it. – ANYONE can claim themselves to be a nutritionist or nutritional therapist – the terms are not protected – it’s a bit like claiming yourself to be a spirit medium.”

“It’d be interesting to know how they claim to add the green beens… You could always call them up and ask them to send you information in connection with your doctorate… see if the bumph they sent you held up to scrutiny. Doesn’t half indigestable coffee count as speciality?”

“The whole idea of adding anti-oxidants to food is erroneous. The body produces its own antioxidants and releases them as required at any one time. Eating more doesn’t mean they even go into the blood stream -they are much more likely to be excreted. Ina large scale trial of giving antioxidants to a group of people who were smokers was abandoned after 6 years as unethical because those in the group that got the antioxidants were 46% more likely to die of lung cancer than those who were given placebos! And yet we’re still getting adverts for foods with added antioxidants.Blah!”

Herein lies the rub.
Even if anti-oxidants are good for you – there are more anti-oxidants in roasted coffee than green coffee anyway. AND you can actually digest them!
Here’s the proof:
Coffee Science Information Centre’s study of antioxidant levels in coffee
It’s a long and pretty complex study, and backed up by a lot of different tests. However, this is the crucial bit:

“The roasting of coffee beans dramatically increases their total
antioxidant activity. A roasting time of 10 minutes (medium-dark roast)
was found to produce coffee with optimal oxygen scavenging and chain
breaking activities in vitro (6). A study of robusta and
arabica coffees from six different countries showed that robusta
samples contained significantly more reducing substances than arabica
samples and that protective activity measured ex vivo was
significantly greater in roasted samples than in green coffee (7).
Using the ABTS•+ method (the gold standard), it was confirmed that
light roast or medium roast coffee has a significantly higher
antioxidant activity in vitro than green coffee (8). This
difference was observed despite a 19% and 45% decrease in the
chlorogenic acid content of light and medium roast coffee respectively
implying that other compounds make significant contributions to the
total antioxidant activity of roasted coffee. Melanoidins are brown
polymers formed by the Maillard reaction during the roasting of coffee
beans and account for up to 25% of the dry matter. It has recently been
shown by the ABTS•+ method that coffee melanoidins have significant
antioxidant activity in vitro (9).”

So, where did Nescafe’s idea come from??? GREEN blend sounds eco-friendly. I bet they couldn’t market it as “Nescafe RAW blend”. It also sounds healthy. People think they need anti-oxidants. The most well-known source of anti-oxidants is green tea. Coffee, on the other hand, has always been accused of being unhealthy because of the caffeine content… so, why not make the coffee green too??
And, I suppose, what really swung it for Nestle was that green coffee is cheaper than roasted coffee, and this way, they can sell a new exciting blend for more money, when it may actually be a third cheaper to produce….

God I’m a cynic….

 
47 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,