Friday, February 1, 2008

Food therapy should be supplemented with exercise

I have heard that some foods help you to burn fat faster than others? Is that true? What are these foods?

No food by itself can burn fat. But certain foods like whole grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables tend to be low in fat, high in fibre and rich in complex carbohydrates. Such foods when coupled with some steady form of exercise, help you to burn fat more easily and consequently you lose weight.

Additionally they guard your body against diseases. Eating foods like spinach, egg whites, watermelon, whole wheat bread, pineapple and most vegetables help the body to shed weight easily. Some flavouring foods like raddish, mustard, chillies, help boost metabolism marginally. Weight loss is a complex process. A lot of it depends on your metabolism, percentage of body fat, hormonal levels, immune function, etc. Food therapy has to be applied to body chemistry in order to achieve healthy weight loss.

I drink a lot of coffee — about six to eight cups a day. It keeps me going and I feel energetic. I take it without sugar even though I don’t have a weight problem. But I want to know if it is going to cause any harm eventually?

There’s probably more research done on coffee than on any other subject and yet there is so much of confusion about coffee that it keeps us wondering if it’s okay to consume.

Caffeine is one on the most overused energy stimulants that acts on the Central Nervous System (CNS). One cup of coffee contains about 60-70 mg of caffeine, which is sufficient to produce a temporary increase in mental alertness and temporarily increase energy levels while reducing drowsiness. Through its CNS activity, it also stimulates the cardiovascular system raising blood pressure and heart rate. Caffeine is also a diuretic and a laxative. As is true of all addictive substances, the amount of caffeine needed to produce mental stimulation increases with regular use. Larger doses are progressively required to achieve the same original effect. If we do not get our fixed amount everyday it may result in drowsiness and headaches. The most common withdrawal symptom is a throbbing headache, usually at the temples but occasionally at the back of the head or around the eyes. Some individuals experience insomnia, fatigue (if you haven’t had your fixed quota for the day), heartburn, anaemia (due to reduced absorption of iron) and low calcium levels especially when caffeine is consumed around meal times. Increased blood pressure, heart rhythm disturbances and hyperactivity are also commonly noticed in coffee drinkers.

Let me first divide coffee drinkers into three categories — low-caffeine consumers (those who drink zero to two cups per day), moderate-caffeine consumers (those who drink three to four cups per day) and high-caffeine consumers (those who drink more than five cups per day)

One cup of instant coffee contains 60-70 mg of caffeine. In my opinion, most of the negative effects of caffeine are not a concern with low-caffeine consumption, about 150 mg of caffeine daily (what exists in two cups of coffee). The risks discussed above vary with the level of caffeine intake and individual sensitivity. A total of over 400 mg of caffeine daily (that which exists in seven or more cups a day) is considered high intake and that level of caffeine consumption could prove potentially harmful in the long run. Therefore if you have got into the coffee habit, keep your intake under 200 mg of caffeine, which is a maximum of zero to two cups a day.