Glancing across my desk as I sat down to write a blog post, a flash about how the thoughtful use of food in improving and maintaining the body popped into my awareness. This may seem like having a firm grasp of the obvious. We all decide what we eat for reasons of our own; however, I wonder how many of us actually feel into the direct impact those individual decisions have.
Initially, the consumption of coffee, caffeinated and decaffeinated, came to mind, and I thought it beneficial to examine my own experience along with what I could read about current research.
I define research as current, professional opinion based upon rigorous study, and acknowledge that it can be counted upon to change as new data becomes available. Research can also be observational… that is, large groups of people are simply followed for prolonged periods of time without manipulation of their behavior or experience. The research is observational of the subjects’ lifestyle and dietary factors, and how they then impact the group’s health over time.
So, on the topic of coffee, a statement from WebMD: “A growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are:
- less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia
- have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes
“There is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health,” says Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.” Hu says the possible benefits aren’t limited to caffeine intake, and appear to include decaffeinated coffee and even tea.
My [biased] personal experience is an improved clarity of mind and focus when I drink a cup of caffeinated coffee. The flip side is that I also notice an accelerated heart rate and chest area constriction when I ingest too much caffeine.
The point is not whether you choose to take or avoid caffeine. The point is much broader and applies to each food item or beverage we consume. We can notice immediately how the body reacts to everything we eat or drink, and the more aware we are, the easier it is to make decisions that positively impact the body’s performance.
Increased awareness also applies to the frequency of eating. Although I am not diabetic, I notice an insulin drop when I eat too infrequently. That physical effect can then influence what I eat when I realize I’ve gone too long. Eating too much too quickly has the opposite and equally negative effect of slowing the system down and overloading digestion.
So, this is about awareness. Simple awareness. Eat well; feel good. Feel good; eat well.