You Don’t Need To Be The Fastest

When you’re running from a bear, all you have to do is run faster than the slowest person. (Remember that the next time you’re on the trails.)

Although we rarely admit it, most of us have perfectionist tendencies. Does this sound like your internal self-talk?

I always need to do better.

I wish I was like _____.

I can’t start a nutrition and fitness plan until I have more free time/get over an injury/get a different job/get over my gym anxiety/“insert perfect life situation here.”

I’m a failure.

If I can’t do _____ then I won’t do it at all

I’m stuck and overwhelmed

Augh! This is a disaster! (Said during a non disaster)

I need to do ___, then run to the bank and do ___, and then I’m baking cookies for ___, and then I’m going to stay up all night to sew a perfect costume for ___…

If any of these sound like you, you might have a teensy bit of perfectionism.

But we don’t need to be perfect. In fact, to see substantial progress we only have to do a little bit better than yesterday. (Or run a little faster than the next person if we’d rather not get mauled.)


Perfectionism is a losing game because we’re competing with ourselves. And we’ll be darned if anyone’s gonna beat us.

Plus it makes us ornery. No one wants to hang out with someone who’s anxious, frustrated, unmotivated, irritable, and hyper-aware of every flaw.

But the pressure to be perfect isn’t from outside sources — it emanates from you.

Be “Pretty Good”… Consistently.

Don’t blame yourself. It’s hard out there. There are so many messages flying at women about how we should act, what we should do, and how we should be.

500 years ago, your main job as a woman was to make a baby. Nobody cared how you looked, whether you were a supermom, whether you had a career, or even whether you could read. Your family menus consisted of gruel and boiled turnips for four months straight. Nobody expected you to whip together four-course meals that would accommodate every fussy eater and individual taste. If you survived to age 35 with half of your teeth, you were a champ.

Thankfully times have changed. But with changes have come a lot more pressure: to look perfect, to be a perfect mother, to be a perfect wife, grandmother, to be a perfect friend, to have a perfect house with a perfect lawn, to have a perfect career… man, we got anxious just typing that out.

And, as many of you have discovered, trying to be perfect doesn’t work very well. You end up feeling frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed. And, eventually, when you snap from the pressure, you end up worse off than you were before you started.

The fix?

Be “pretty good” consistently. This means achieving high overall habit compliance by going for “pretty good” every day — rather than “perfect” every now and then.

Think about all the ways in which you can be pretty good… and all the ways in which you already are pretty good. We bet you’re all pretty good at something (or lots of somethings) already. All you need to do is apply the “pretty good” approach to your nutrition and exercise.


Don’t wait for the “perfect” day, “perfect” body, or “perfect” schedule full of free time to come. It never will.

Instead, focus on what you have and be pretty good every day. Take perfection off the table, and see how far you get. (Which is quite far, actually.)



1. Outrun the bear.

Remember: you don’t need to run the fastest; you just need to run faster than the slowest person.

2. Take perfect off the table.

Don’t worry about being “perfect”. Aim for high habit compliance by shooting for “pretty good” or “better than yesterday” instead.

3. Remember that changing habits can be challenging.

Sometimes you might feel lost or stuck. That’s OK. Keep going. Crawl out of the hole when you need to. Clean the slate.

Don’t quit.

4.  Let your awareness and skills grow slowly.

Do the habits, do the workouts, and read the lessons every day. Practice makes perfect. Give yourself time to adapt and


5. Anticipate and plan for obstacles.

Think about what might challenge you. How could you anticipate and plan for this?

6. If you fall into the hole, get out immediately.

Don’t linger; start climbing. If you slip up, all you have to do is take the next positive step forward.

7.  Stay focused and patient.

Eventually, that deep hole in the sidewalk won’t be there at all and you can walk confidently on a different street.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit. But my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

Thanks to American actress and author Portia Nelson for the poem. 

All About Environmental Toxins

All About Environmental Toxins

by Brian St. Pierre, September 17th, 2012.

Summary: Environmental toxins are cancer-causing chemicals and endocrine disruptors, both human-made and naturally occurring, that can harm our health by disrupting sensitive biological systems. Here, we review what endocrine disruptors are, where they come from, and how to minimize exposure to help protect you and your family from their potentially dangerous effects.

What Are Environmental Toxins?

Environmental toxins include naturally occurring compounds such as:

  • lead;
  • mercury;
  • radon;
  • formaldehyde;
  • benzene; and
  • cadmium.

They also include human-made chemicals like:

  • BPA;
  • phthalates; and
  • pesticides.

In toxic doses, all of these compounds can negatively affect human health.  Many of them are known to:

  • cause cancer (radon, formaldehyde, benzene);
  • act as endocrine disruptors (BPA, pesticides, phthalates); and
  • cause organ failure or developmental problems (lead, mercury, cadmium)

Lead toxicity is a well-known example. People are generally aware of potential sources of lead, such as old paint and old pipes.

Cadmium toxicity was first realized in the 50s and 60s, and policies now limit industrial exposure.

Mercury is also a well-known toxin.

While these three environmental toxins are well-known, this article will focus on the compounds that are ubiquitous in our environment, but aren’t as well regulated.  It will also suggest ways you can decrease your exposure to them.

Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors include a wide range of substances, both natural and human-made, that may interfere with the body’s endocrine (hormone and cell signaling) system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects.

endocrine disruptor graphic All About Environmental Toxins

Action of endocrine disruptors

Endocrine disruptors usually mimic estrogen and are found in many everyday products we use, including:

  • some plastic bottles and containers;
  • food can liners;
  • detergents;
  • flame retardants;
  • toys;
  • cosmetics; and
  • pesticides.

In particular, the industrially produced compounds bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides, and phthalates are among the most potentially dangerous.

Research shows that endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest risk during prenatal and early postnatal development when organ and neural systems are forming. Pregnant or breast-feeding women, or women planning on becoming pregnant, should be the most cautious.

BPA: What is it, where is it, and how do I get less of it?

Much of the concern about endocrine disruptors has focused on BPA, a compound that is widely used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins that are used in food and drink packaging, water and baby bottles, metal can linings, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. In addition, BPA can also be found in thermal paper receipts, though the amount of exposure from these particular products is thought to be minimal.

Low-dose exposure to BPA may produce a wide variety of physiological problems, including:

  • obesity;
  • infertility;
  • aggressive behavior;
  • early onset of puberty;
  • hormone-dependent cancers such as prostate and breast cancer; and
  • lower testosterone levels and sperm production.

BPA exposure occurs when the chemical leaches out from the product into food and water, especially when plastic containers are washed, heated or stressed. The highest estimated daily intakes of BPA occur in infants and children.

In fact 93% of children 6 years of age and older have detectable levels of BPA in their urine, and a 2011 study found that 96% of American women also have detectable levels. In September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance; the European Union and Canada now ban BPA in baby bottles.

The good news is that BPA exits the body quickly. A 2011 study found that when participants ate their usual diets, followed by three days of consuming foods that were not canned or packaged, BPA levels in their urine decreased by 66%.

To reduce exposure to BPA:

  • Minimize use of plastic containers with the #7 or #3 on the bottom.
  • Don’t microwave plastic food containers, and don’t wash them in the dishwasher or with harsh detergents.
  • Reduce use of canned foods and eat mostly fresh or frozen foods.
  • When possible opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel cups, containers, water bottles and travel mugs.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA free (or better yet use glass bottles) and look for toys labeled BPA free.

Pesticides: What are they, where are they, and how do I reduce my exposure?

Pesticides are any substance used to kill, repel, or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are deemed pests. This includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, disinfectants, and compounds used to control rodents. In the US, over 4.5 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year.

Most conventional food production uses pesticides, so people are exposed to low levels of pesticide residues through their diets. While the health effects of pesticide residues are not entirely clear, research from the National Institute of Health showed that farmers who use agricultural insecticides experience an increase in headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, hand tremors, and other neurological symptoms, while licensed pesticide applicators have a 20-200% increased risk of developing diabetes.

Other data found that individuals reporting regular exposure to pesticides had a 70% higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease than those reporting no exposure.

It also appears that children are particularly susceptible to adverse effects from exposure to pesticides, specifically neuro-developmental problems. This is probably because children eat more food relative to their size. They also play in the dirt and spend time on the ground, where pesticides may linger.

To reduce exposure to pesticides:

  • Wash and scrub all fruits and vegetables, organic or conventional.
  • If possible purchase mostly organic fruits and vegetables, particularly the ones consistently found to have the highest pesticide residues – apples, strawberries, celery, peaches and spinach.
  • Grow your own!

Phthalates: What are they, where are they, and how do I reduce my exposure?

Phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastics. They are found in a wide variety of products, including bottles, shampoo, cosmetics, lotions, nail polish, and deodorant. At one time most flexible plastics contained high levels of phthalates. Fortunately, they are being phased out in the US and Europe due to emerging recognition of their risks.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institute of Health, has found that pre-natal exposure to phthalates is associated with adverse genital development and can significantly reduce masculine behavior in boys. Women with high exposure to phthalates while pregnant report significantly more disruptive behavior in their children, while other research by NIEHS has found phthalate exposure can lead to thyroid dysfunction in adults.

Fortunately, as with BPA, if exposure is decreased, phthalates quickly exit the body. The same study that found a large decrease in BPA levels a mere three days after participants stopped eating canned and packaged foods also found that phthalate levels in the urine decreased by 53-56% during the same time period.

To reduce phthalate exposure:

  • Minimize use of plastics with the recycling code #3.
  • Use PVC-free containers. Buy plastic wrap and bags made from polyethylene and use glass containers. If you do use plastic containers, do not heat or microwave them.
  • Choose phthalate-free toys. Many large toymakers have pledged to stop using phthalates, but be sure to look for toys made from polypropylene or polyethylene.
  • Purchase phthalate-free beauty products. Avoid nail polish, perfumes, colognes, and other scented products that list phthalates as an ingredient. Many scented products simply list “fragrance” as an ingredient, which often incorporates a number of different chemicals including phthalates. Try to minimize these products, or for more information on phthalate-free cosmetics and personal care products, visit the National Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group, which maintains a database on cosmetic products and their ingredients.


Hundreds of chemicals are capable of inducing cancer in humans or animals after prolonged or excessive exposure. Chemically-induced cancer generally develops many years after exposure to a toxic agent. For example, mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer) may take 30 years to emerge after asbestos exposure.

In 2010, the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel Report declared:

“The true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated… this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The American people – even before they are born – are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures.”

According to the report there are about 80,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States, but only about 2% of those have been assessed for their safety.

The Cancer Panel report singles out radon, formaldehyde, and benzene as major environmental toxins that are causing cancer.

Radon: What is it, where is it, and how do I get less of it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium or thorium found in nearly all soils and it typically moves up through the ground and into the home through cracks in floors, walls, and foundations.

radon 300x267 All About Environmental Toxins

Radon movement from ground to home.

It can also be released from building materials or from well water. Radon breaks down quickly, giving off radioactive particles. Long-term exposure to these particles can lead to lung cancer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year, with 1 in 20 US homes having elevated levels. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause among non-smokers.

Many radon-related lung cancer deaths can be prevented by testing for radon and taking the necessary steps to lower radon levels in homes that have elevated radon. This process is known as radon mitigation.

To reduce radon exposure:

  • Get your home air checked. It is simple and inexpensive.
  • If you use a well, check your water also.

Formaldehyde: What is it, where is it, and how do I get less of it?

Formaldehyde is a colourless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and in the manufacture of many household products. It also occurs naturally in the environment and is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes. Several government agencies have classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.

Formaldehyde sources in the home include pressed-wood products such as particleboard and plywood, glues and adhesives, permanent press fabrics, cigarette smoke, and fuel-burning appliances. In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories.

Research studies of workers exposed to formaldehyde have suggested an association between formaldehyde exposure and several cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia. Rats exposed to formaldehyde fumes developed nasal cancer.

To reduce formaldehyde exposure:

  • Use “exterior-grade” pressed-wood products to limit formaldehyde exposure in the home.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation and moderate temperatures.
  • Reduce humidity levels with air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
  • Go natural and grow plants in your home.

Benzene: What is it, where is it, and how do I get less of it?

Benzene is a colourless liquid that evaporates quickly. It is naturally found in crude oil and is a basic petrochemical. Unfortunately, it is also a known human carcinogen.

Benzene is found in tobacco smoke, gasoline (and therefore car exhaust), pesticides, synthetic fibres, plastics, inks, oils, and detergents. Benzene has also been found in dryer emissions from scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets, and in soft drinks, although these have since been reformulated to exclude it.

About 50% of the benzene exposure in the US results from smoking tobacco or from second-hand smoke.

Substantial amounts of data link benzene to aplastic anemia, bone marrow abnormalities, and leukemia — particularly acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (ANLL).

To reduce benzene exposure:

  • Don’t smoke and try to avoid second hand smoke.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation in your home.
  • Use non-scented laundry detergents.
  • Keep plants in the home.

Conclusions – What Does It All Mean?

Environmental toxins can cause serious health effects when exposure is allowed to accumulate, but it is important to remember that the poison is in the dose. Problems usually result from prolonged or excessive exposure; the occasional use of a plastic cup probably won’t hurt you!

While it is impossible to completely eliminate exposure (and it might drive you crazy to try!), a few simple steps will go a long way towards protecting you and your family:

  • Decrease use of plastic – transition to glass, stainless steel and porcelain containers, glasses and mugs.
  • Wash all produce, and if possible purchase organic options from the Dirty Dozen.
  • Use fewer products with the term “fragrance.”
  • Get your home air and water checked for radon.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep plenty of plants in the home.

There’s no need to freak out over occasional exposure to environmental toxins. Just look for simple ways to reduce your everyday exposure. Make changes slowly, one at a time, in a manageable way, and you will decrease your risk with minimal stress.


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences – National Institute of Health

Rudel RA, et al. Food packaging and bisphenol A and bis(2-ethyhexyl) phthalate exposure: findings from a dietary intervention. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Jul;119(7):914-20.

Smith, MT. Advances in understanding benzene health effects and susceptibility. Ann Rev Pub Health. 2010;31:133–48.

Swan SH, et al. Prenatal phthalate exposure and reduced masculine play in boys. Int J Androl. 2010 Apr;33(2):259-69.

Braun JM, et al. Impact of Early-Life Bisphenol A Exposure on Behavior and Executive Function in Children. Pediatrics. 2011; 128(5):873-882

Calcium – the hows and whats!

A client of mine came to me with an issue she faced and asked for my advice.
I told her off my experience and with this also referred her on her GP and/or specialist.
I told her
“I was oesteopenic, genetic from my mothers side of the family where osteoporosis runs throughout the generations in both males and females.
With commitment and focus I have managed to increase my bone density to normal levels
1) Resistance exercise – weight bearing exercises
2) Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements
3) Eating well – not only food rich in calcium but an over all healthy nutritious food program.
The suggestions I had is to do a lot of what I did:
If this does not work I suggested she goes to see her specialist and/or her GP again and see if medication such as Fosomax might be appropriate.
a) Check your Vitamin D effective levels calcium absorption is compromised.
b) Very IMPORTANT – weight bearing exercises 3 times a week (optimal)
c) Not only to rely on supplements only:
Sunshine/light is very important.
15 minutes a day in the sun with your skin bear and your eyes without sunglasses is very important.
c) Eat food rich in calcium
  • Green vegetables like broccoli, curly kale, and bok choy
  • Some fruits such as oranges, apricots and dried figs
  • Canned fish with soft, edible bones (the calcium is in the bones) such as sardines, pilchards and salmon
  • Fish eaten not from cans great just you can’t eat the bones..sardines are fabulous!
  • Nuts, especially Brazil nuts and almonds
  • Sesame seeds, tchina
  • carobs
  • dairy products – natural yogurt, milk, cottage cheese
VERY IMPORTANT – You must be aware that Caffeine (coffee, tea, diet coke) and salt can increase calcium loss from the body and should not be taken in excessive amounts. Alcohol should also be taken in moderation as it detracts from bone health and is associated with falls and fractures.
DRINK only 2 cups of coffee a day MAXIMUM and I mean 250 ml cups (single shot)
Some leafy produce, like spinach and rhubarb, contain ‘oxalates’, which prevent the calcium present in these vegetables from being absorbed. However, they do not interfere with calcium absorption from other calcium-containing foods eaten at the same time. The same is true of ‘phytates’ in dried beans, cereal husks and seeds (thus you should always soak your seeds, grains and beans before you eat them)
A great website is: 


What can high-calcium foods do for you?

  • Maintain healthy, strong bones
  • Support proper functioning of nerves and muscles
  • Help your blood clot

What events can indicate a need for more high-calcium foods?

  • Frequent bone fractures
  • Muscle pain or spasms
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet
  • Bone deformities and growth retardation in children

Excellent sources of calcium include spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and tofu.

Foods rich in calcium
Sesame Seeds
Milk – Goat
Collard Greens
Turnip Greens

What is calcium?

One of the most abundant minerals in the human body, calcium accounts for approximately 1.5% of total body weight. Bones and teeth house 99% of the calcium in the body, while the remaining 1% is distributed in other areas.

In recent years, consumers have been bombarded with public health messages encouraging the consumption of foods rich in calcium. These messages are aimed at preventing osteoporosis, a disease characterized by brittle and porous bones that now affects more than 20 million individuals in the United States. A calcium-deficient diet is one of the causative factors of osteoporosis.

Our food ranking system—based on nutrient density—shows spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, and collard greens to be excellent sources of calcium. Our ranking system looks not only at the amount of calcium in food, but also at the caloric content of food and how many calories of a food are necessary to provide the desired amount of calcium. Dairy foods—which are often listed as excellent sources of calcium—turn out to be very good sources of calcium in our ranking system (just one step below turnip greens, and mustard greens) because of their lower nutrient density.

How it Functions

Calcium is best known for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones. In a process known as bone mineralization, calcium and phosphorus join to form calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is a major component of the mineral complex (called hydroxyapatite) that gives structure and strength to bones.

Calcium also plays a role in many physiological activities not related to bones including blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, regulation of enzyme activity, and cell membrane function. Because these physiological activities are essential to life, the body utilizes complex regulatory systems to tightly control the amount of calcium in the blood so that calcium is available for these activities. As a result, when dietary intake of calcium is too low to maintain normal blood levels of calcium, the body will draw on calcium stores in the bones to maintain normal blood concentrations, which, after many years, can lead to osteoporosis.

Deficiency Symptoms

Insufficient calcium intake, poor calcium absorption, and/or excessive calcium losses through the urine and feces can cause calcium deficiency. In children, calcium deficiency can cause improper bone mineralization, which leads to rickets, a condition characterized by bone deformities and growth retardation. In adults, calcium deficiency may result in osteomalacia, or softening of the bone. Calcium deficiency, along with other contributing factors, can also result in osteoporosis.

Low levels of calcium in the blood (especially one particular form of calcium, called free ionized calcium) may cause a condition called tetany, in which nerve activity becomes excessive. Symptoms of tetany include muscle pain and spasms, as well as tingling and/or numbness in the hands and feet.

Toxicity Symptoms

Excessive intakes of calcium (more than 3,000 mg per day) may result in elevated blood calcium levels, a condition known as hypercalcemia. If blood levels of phosphorus are low at the same time as calcium levels are high, hypercalcemia can lead to soft tissue calcification. This condition involves the unwanted accumulation of calcium in cells other than bone. Given some of these known risks associated with high intake of calcium, in 2010 the National Academy of Sciences established revised Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for calcium as follows:

  • 0-6 months: 1000 mg
  • 6-12 months: 1500 mg
  • 1-3 years: 2500 mg
  • 4-8 years: 2500 mg
  • 9-13 years: 3000 mg
  • 14-18 years: 3000 mg
  • 19-30 years: 2500 mg
  • 31-50 years: 2500 mg
  • 51+ years: 2000 mg
  • Pregnant and lactating women (younger than 18 years): 3000 mg
  • Pregnant and lactating women (older than 18 years): 2500 mg

Impact of Cooking, Storage and Processing

The amount of calcium in foods is not adversely impacted by cooking or long-term storage.

Factors that Affect Function

Hypochlorhydria, a condition characterized by insufficient secretion of stomach acid, affects many people and is especially common in the elderly. Lack of stomach acid impairs the absorption of calcium and may lead to poor calcium status.

Adequate intake of vitamin D is necessary for the absorption and utilization of calcium. As a result, vitamin D deficiency, or impaired conversion of the inactive to the active form of vitamin D (which takes place in the liver and kidneys), may also lead to a poor calcium status.

Nutrient Interactions

The following nutrients impact the absorption, utilization and/or excretion of calcium:

  • Vitamin D accelerates the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • High consumption of potassium reduces the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • High intakes of sodium, caffeine, or protein cause an increase in the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • Certain types of dietary fiber like the fiber found in wheat and oat bran, may interfere with calcium absorption by decreasing transit time (the amount of time it takes for digested foods to move through the intestines), limiting the amount of time during digestion for calcium to be absorbed. Dietary fiber also stimulates the proliferation of “friendly” bacteria in the gut, which bind calcium and make it less available for absorption.
  • Phytic acid, found in whole grains, nuts, and legumes, can bind to calcium to form and insoluble complex, thereby decreasing the absorption of calcium.
  • Oxalic acid, found in spinach, beets, celery, pecans, peanuts, tea and cocoa, can bind to calcium and form an insoluble complex that is excreted in the feces. While research studies confirm the ability of phytic acid and oxalic acid in foods to lower availability of calcium, the decrease in available calcium is relatively small.

Calcium impacts the absorption of the following nutrients:

  • Calcium in food and supplements decreases the absorption of heme and nonheme iron.
  • Magnesium and calcium compete with each other for intestinal absorption. Consequently, calcium supplements should not be taken at the same time as magnesium supplements.

Health Conditions

What health conditions require special emphasis on calcium?

Calcium may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions:

  • Cataracts
  • Colon cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia
  • Premenstrual syndrome

Food Sources

Excellent sources of calcium include spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens and tofu.

Very good sources of calcium include blackstrap molasses, Swiss chard, yogurt, kale, mozzarella cheese, cow’s milk, and goat’s milk. Basil, thyme, dill seed, oregano, and cinnamon are also very good sources of calcium.

Good sources of calcium include romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, sesame seeds, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, garlic, Brussel sprouts, oranges, asparagus, leeks and crimini mushrooms. Rosemary, cumin seeds, cloves, coriander seeds, scallops, and kelp (a sea vegetable) are also good sources of calcium.

Introduction to Nutrient Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the World’s Healthiest Foods that are either an excellent, very good, or good source of calcium. Next to each food name, you’ll find the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition, the calories contained in the serving, the amount of calcium contained in one serving size of the food, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.”

World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of
Food Serving
Cals Amount
Foods Rating
Basil 2 tsp 7.0 59.16 5.9 15.1 very good
Turnip Greens 1 cup cooked 28.8 197.28 19.7 12.3 excellent
Thyme 2 tsp 7.7 52.92 5.3 12.3 very good
Oregano 2 tsp 9.5 57.49 5.7 10.8 very good
Spinach 1 cup cooked 41.4 244.80 24.5 10.6 excellent
Collard Greens 1 cup cooked 49.4 266.00 26.6 9.7 excellent
Dill 2 tsp 12.8 63.67 6.4 8.9 very good
Mustard Greens 1 cup cooked 21.0 103.60 10.4 8.9 excellent
Tofu 4 oz-wt 86.2 396.89 39.7 8.3 excellent
Cinnamon 2 tsp 12.8 52.10 5.2 7.3 very good
Sea Vegetables 0.25 cup 8.6 33.60 3.4 7.0 good
Rosemary 2 tsp 7.9 30.72 3.1 7.0 good
Blackstrap Molasses 2 tsp 32.1 117.56 11.8 6.6 very good
Cheese 1 oz-wt 72.0 221.69 22.2 5.5 very good
Yogurt 1 cup 154.3 448.35 44.8 5.2 very good
Swiss Chard 1 cup cooked 35.0 101.50 10.2 5.2 very good
Kale 1 cup cooked 36.4 93.60 9.4 4.6 very good
Celery 1 cup 16.2 40.40 4.0 4.5 good
Cumin 1 tsp 15.8 39.10 3.9 4.5 good
Milk 1 cup 122.0 292.80 29.3 4.3 very good
Cloves 2 tsp 13.6 27.13 2.7 3.6 good
Milk – Goat 1 cup 168.4 326.96 32.7 3.5 very good
Romaine Lettuce 2 cups 16.0 31.02 3.1 3.5 good
Sardines 3.20 oz-wt 188.7 346.54 34.7 3.3 good
Sesame Seeds 0.25 cup 206.3 351.00 35.1 3.1 good
Coriander 2 tsp 17.8 29.20 2.9 3.0 good
Cabbage 1 cup raw 17.5 28.00 2.8 2.9 good
Fennel 1 cup raw 27.0 42.63 4.3 2.8 good
Broccoli 1 cup raw 30.9 42.77 4.3 2.5 good
Garlic 1 oz-wt 26.8 32.58 3.3 2.2 good
Asparagus 1 cup raw 26.8 32.16 3.2 2.2 good
Green Beans 1 cup raw 31.0 37.00 3.7 2.1 good
Scallops 4 oz-wt 127.0 130.41 13.0 1.8 good
Brussels Sprouts 1 cup raw 37.8 36.96 3.7 1.8 good
Leeks 1 cup raw 54.3 52.51 5.3 1.7 good
Oranges 1 each 61.6 52.40 5.2 1.5 good
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
excellent DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

Public Health Recommendations

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences issued revised Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommendation levels for calcium. These revised recommendation levels were determined to be necessary in light of the simultaneously revised recommendation levels for vitamin D. (Vitamin D and calcium work together in their support of our health, and it makes sense to coordinate nutrient recommendations for these two nutrients.) The 2010 revised recommendations for calcium included revised calcium Adequate Intake (AI) levels for infants as follows:

  • 0-6 months: 200 mg
  • 6-12 months: 260 mg

For children and adults, Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) levels were established in 2010 as follows:

  • 1-3 years: 700 mg
  • 4-8 years: 1000 mg
  • 9-13 years: 1300 mg
  • 14-18 years: 1300 mg
  • 19-30 years: 1000 mg
  • 31-50 years: 1000 mg
  • 51-70 years (male): 1000 mg
  • 51-70 years (female): 1200 mg
  • 70+ years: 1200mg
  • Pregnant and lactating women (younger than 18 years): 1300 mg
  • Pregnant and lactating women (older than 18 years): 1000 mgIn 2010 the National Academy of Sciences established revised Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for calcium as follows:
    • 0-6 months: 1000 mg
    • 6-12 months: 1500 mg
    • 1-3 years: 2500 mg
    • 4-8 years: 2500 mg
    • 9-13 years: 3000 mg
    • 14-18 years: 3000 mg
    • 19-30 years: 2500 mg
    • 31-50 years: 2500 mg
    • 51+ years: 2000 mg
    • Pregnant and lactating women (younger than 18 years): 3000 mg
    • Pregnant and lactating women (older than 18 years): 2500 mg

    For more details on this, see the Toxicity Symptoms section above.


    • Bell L, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of calcium carbonate in patients with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. Arch Intern Med 1992;152:2441-2444. 1992.
    • Bostick RM, et al. Effect of calcium supplementation on serum cholesterol and blood pressure. Arch Fam Med 2000; 9:31-39. 2000.
    • Buckley LM, et al. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation prevents bone loss in the spine secondary to low-dose corticosteroids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Ann Intern Med 1996; 125:961-968. 1996.
    • Cappuccio FP, et al. Epidemiologic association between dietary calcium intake and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of published data. Am J Epidemiol 1995;142:935-945. 1995.
    • Cook JD, Dassenko SA, Whittaker P. Calcium supplementation: effect on iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:106-11. 1991.
    • Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED. Calcium and vitamin D: Their potential roles in colon and breast cancer prevention. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1999;889:107-19. 1999.
    • Groff JL, Gropper SS, Hunt SM. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. West Publishing Company, New York, 1995. 1995.
    • Hallberg L. Does calcium interfere with iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;63:3-4. 1998.
    • Lee SJ, Kanis JA. An association between osteoporosis and premenstrual symptoms and postmenopausal symptoms. Bone and Mineral 1994;24:127-134. 1994.
    • Lininger SW, et al. A-Z guide to drug-herb-vitamin interactions. Prima Health, Rocklin, CA, 2000. 2000.
    • Miller JZ, et al. Calcium absorption from calcium carbonate and a new form of calcium (CCM) in healthy male and female adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 1988;48:1291-4. 1988.
    • Minihane AM, et al. Effect of calcium supplementation on daily nonheme-iron absorption and long-term iron status. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68:96-102. 1998.
    • Sakhaee K, Bhuket T, et al. Meta-analysis of calcium bioavailability: A comparison of calcium citrate with calcium carbonate. American Journal of Therapeutics 1999;6:313-321. 1999.
    • Thys-Jacobs S, Starkey P, Bernstein D, Tian J. Calcium carbonate and the premenstrual syndrome: effects on premenstrual and menstrual symptoms. Premestrual syndrome study group. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;179(2): 444-52. 1998.
    • Weaver CM, Proulx WR, Heaney R. Choices for achieving adequate dietary calcium with a vegetarian diet. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70(suppl):543S-8S. 1999.
    • Wu K, Willet WC, Fuchs CS et al. Calcium intake and risk of colon cancer in women and men. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002 Mar 20;94(6):437-46. 2002.

Precision Nutrition – Lean Eating 5 day Course Free

Today I have a gift for all Precision Nutrition readers, a sneak peek at something
we’ve been working on for some time now, something new and
exceptionally cool . . .

A 5-day video course: Precision Nutrition for Fat Loss.

And the best part? It’s TOTALLY FREE.

If I do say so myself, this course is probably better than 90% of the
seminars I’ve ever attended on the subjects of exercise and nutrition
(and probably better than a few I’ve given myself, too).

To check out the free course, just click the link below.

For Women

For men

Why we created the course

We wanted to create a definitive resource for fat loss, a place where
you could learn everything you need to know to start losing fat
immediately. I think we’ve done that, but you can decide for yourself.

I see a LOT of nonsense being published about fat loss these days,
both on the web and in the mainstream media.

And at PN, we’re in a unique position to set the record straight about
what it REALLY takes — because in our Lean Eating Coaching Program,
we’ve essentially conducted the world’s largest fat loss research

For the last 3 years, we’ve kept enormous amounts of data on thousands
of clients, tracking nearly every measurable statistic available, from
body composition to psychometric markers.

And from that data, we can draw some clear conclusions: to lose fat
rapidly — but also PERMANENTLY — clients need to adopt a very
specific approach to fat loss.

Well, in this free fat loss course, I share that approach with you.
And most importantly, I show you exactly how to do it, right away.

What I cover in the course

* The 5 things you need to know about nutrition — the same things
we’ve taught our clients to help them collectively lose over 100,000
pounds of fat.

* Exactly what foods to eat to lose fat — at every meal

* How to make delicious meals with a few simple ingredients

* The best types of exercise for fat loss — don’t waste your time on
anything else

* Exactly how much time you need to exercise — no guesswork here, we
share the real data with you

* Supplements for fat loss: the two different approaches you can take

* Which four supplements we use with our clients when fat loss is the

* The one crucial reason why people fail at fat loss, and the two
simple things you can do to make sure you succeed

Last word

At PN, we’re out to change the way people think about fat loss — to
drown out the noise and the theories and share what we know REALLY
WORKS. And this course is the next step.

In it, I present some ideas that can be hard for people to accept. I
know, because for the last year I’ve been teaching this material to
fitness professionals around the world, and I see their reactions.
Mostly, it’s a mix of excitement and anxiety.

Why? Because as you’ll see in the course, not only CAN fat loss be
much simpler than the experts think — it HAS to be much simpler.
Otherwise, it doesn’t work.

To get the most out of the course, I encourage you to come in with an
open mind and consider that what I teach in the lessons might just be

Because, well, it is.

This is how the 2% who succeed at fat loss actually do it. This is how
to lose fat without overhauling your life.


To read more about the free 5-day video fat loss course, and to take
it, click the links below:

For Women

For Men

From all of us at PN, enjoy the courses — and here’s hoping they’ll
help you get in the best shape of your life.


John M. Berardi, PhD, CSCS
Chief Science Officer


All About Coffee – Precision Nutrition

by Brian St. Pierre, May 24th, 2012.

Summary: Coffee is among the most consumed — and controversial — beverages in the world. While coffee should be treated with care and avoided altogether by those who metabolize it poorly, it also provides health benefits to many people. Read on to find out what they are – and how to drink coffee responsibly.

Coffee is the second most popular drink in the world, trailing only water and, debatably, tea.

Caffeine, a key component of coffee, is a controversial compound. With 90% of North American adults consuming caffeine daily, it is the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug – and coffee is the delivery method of choice.

Perhaps that’s why, in the fitness world, we’ve traditionally viewed coffee with some suspicion.

But is coffee really bad for us? Should we give up our beloved cuppa joe? If it’s bad, why does it feel so good?

Coffee’s origins

The coffee plant originated in East Africa — according to legend, a goat herder tried coffee cherries after he noticed his goats acting much more energetic after nibbling on the coffee bushes.

The earliest evidence of coffee drinking occurred in the 15th century in Yemen.  From Yemen, coffee quickly spread to Egypt and North Africa, and by the 16th century it was being enjoyed by the rest of the Middle East, Persia, and Turkey and soon thereafter Italy and the rest of Europe.

Fast forward to today. Coffee is ubiquitous in our culture.  Everywhere you look, there’s a coffee shop on the corner. What effect might our cultural love of coffee have on our health?

Short answer: Well, we’re not completely sure.

Coffee’s risks

Research on coffee’s safety is mixed, for several reasons:

  • Metabolism matters. People vary genetically in how well they can process caffeine and coffee.
  • Coffee interacts with many hormones and neurotransmitters in the body, such as cortisol, acetylcholine, and insulin. These relationships are complex, and often depend on timing, amount, and people’s individual makeup.
  • As a crop, coffee is less like corn or soy, and more like cacao or wine grapes: It’s typically grown and processed in smaller batches by smaller-scale farmers and producers. Variations in soil and climate, as well as later roasting and brewing technique, will change the taste and chemical makeup. It’s hard to standardize the exact chemical compounds in coffee from batch to batch.

So it’s hard to say definitively that coffee is “good” or “bad”; “healthy” or “unhealthy”. Let’s explore this in more depth.

What about my metabolism?

One reason that evidence on the health effects of coffee is so mixed is that people clear caffeine at different rates. Caffeine is broken down and cleared by the liver, and our genetic makeup shapes how quickly and effectively we can do this.

  • On one hand, “slow” metabolizers of caffeine don’t process caffeine effectively. These are people who are adversely affected by caffeine, get the jitters, and are wired for up to nine hours after consumption.
  • Others just get a boost in energy and alertness for a couple of hours; they are considered “fast” metabolizers of caffeine.

Research in the emerging field of nutrigenomics shows that about half of us have the gene variant that makes us “slow” metabolizers, while the other half enjoy the gene variant that allows them to get away with quad-espressos.

Thus, whether coffee is better or worse for you depends on how well and quickly you metabolize caffeine.

If you are a slow metabolizer of caffeine and coffee, steer clear (or at least, reduce your consumption). In your case, coffee can do more harm than good, and this may explain why high coffee consumption has been associated with:

  • higher risk of miscarriage
  • disrupted sleep
  • worse PMS symptoms
  • increased blood pressure, even in people without hypertension
  • non-fatal myocardial infarction (aka a heart attack)

On the plus side, low caffeine consumption still seems relatively safe for most folks, so a few daily cups of tea or squares of dark chocolate shouldn’t harm you (and in fact, may greatly boost your wellbeing!).

And fortunately, not everyone is adversely affected. For those lucky enough to be fast metabolizers, there is good news – and lots of it. Fast metabolizers don’t show the same association between coffee and disease — if you’re a fast metabolizer, coffee might even improve your health!

If you’d like to know more about how well you metabolize caffeine, you can take a quick and easy genetic test through agencies such as or

What about cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It increases blood pressure, spikes blood sugar and prepares the body for “fight or flight” mode.

Coffee and caffeine tend to transiently increase cortisol levels; however, this depends on several factors, including when you drink coffee, how often you drink it, and whether you have high blood pressure.

Cortisol is normally high in the morning, so if you drink some coffee at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., you should be fine, as cortisol is naturally elevated at that time of day anyway.  However, your body may not appreciate coffee as much in the afternoon or evening, when cortisol normally drops. At that point, consider tea or something decaffeinated.

Again, there’s individual variation: Habitual consumers of coffee seem to be less affected by the cortisol bump, while those with hypertension seem to be more affected.

If cortisol levels are a problem for you, keep your coffee intake to first thing in the morning, and otherwise consume more tea. (Not only does tea have less caffeine, it also has other beneficial, calming compounds such as L-theanine.

What about pesticides?

Coffee plants are heavily sprayed with pesticides, which pose obvious health concerns. Fortunately, the plant’s structure offers some protection. While the outer “berry” does receive a lot of exposure, it’s the interior bean that is roasted and used for coffee, and its exposure is far less.  In addition, the roasting process destroys the majority of pesticide residues.

If you’re especially wary of pesticides, choose organically grown coffee. (Hey, it can’t hurt.) And while you’re at it, look for the Fair Trade label, which helps insure that family farmers are paid a fair wage for their crops.

What about my insulin sensitivity?

While a high dose of caffeine tends to decrease insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance acutely, it doesn’t seem to cause chronic problems. While those at risk of developing diabetes may want to be cautious, overall coffee consumption is actually associated with a 35% decreased risk of developing type II diabetes.

What about my kids?

There’s no clear guideline on when kids can safely consume coffee. Guidelines on caffeine consumption are based mostly on the size of the child, rather than their chronological ages.

Nevertheless, Health Canada recommends:

  • no more than 45 milligrams a day for kids aged 4 to 6;
  • 62.5 milligrams for kids age 7 to 9;
  • 85 milligrams for kids age 10 to 12; and
  • no more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight for adolescents 13 and up.

All this means that a 110 pound adolescent should not have more than 125 milligrams of caffeine a day — about one 6-8 oz cup of coffee.

Bear in mind, too, that kids may be getting plenty of caffeine from soft drinks, bottled tea, etc.

Coffee’s benefits

Caffeine & dehydration

For years, fitness enthusiasts worried that coffee would dehydrate them. However, a recent review of 10 studies found that consuming up to 550 mg of caffeine per day (or about five 8-oz cups) does not cause fluid-electrolyte imbalances in athletes or fitness enthusiasts.

In another review, researchers concluded that consuming caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle does not lead to fluid losses exceeding the volume of fluid consumed (intake and output were roughly equal), nor is it associated with poor hydration status.

Take-home: Don’t drink coffee as your only beverage, and drink enough water, and you’ll be fine.

Coffee & performance

Let’s be honest — that first morning coffee can transform us from beast to philosopher (or at least, slightly more awake and nicer beast). Coffee, and more specifically its caffeine content, provide many noted mental and physical performance benefits.

Caffeine reduces our rate of perceived exertion, so it doesn’t feel like we’re working as hard as we actually are. People who regularly drink coffee perform better on tests of reaction time, verbal memory, and visuo-spatial reasoning.

Another study found that women over the age of 80 performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function if they had regularly consumed coffee over the course of their lifetimes.

Take-home: A little bit of coffee/caffeine before important tasks requiring alertness and energy can be a good thing.

Coffee & Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is a fatal and incurable brain disease that affects 1 percent to 2 percent of people over 65.  Amazingly, at least six studies have found that regular coffee drinkers are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s.

Researchers have identified a gene called GRIN2A that appeared to protect people who drank coffee from developing Parkinson’s.  GRIN2A is linked to glutamate, a compound that is suspected of killing the brain cells that die off in Parkinson’s patients.  Glutamate can be affected by another compound called adenosine, and coffee interferes with this process.

However: Only about 25% of the population has the gene variant of GRIN2A that boosts the protective effect of coffee.

Take-home: Coffee may lower Parkinson’s risk, but only in a small subset of people. 

Coffee & Alzheimer’s

Speaking of neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.  There is no cure for the disease, which gets progressively worse over time, and eventually leads to death.

What separates the research on Alzheimer’s from most of the other information covered in this article is that it derived from directly controlled trials versus simple observation.

Here, research indicates that people who drink about three cups of coffee a day show a marked reduction in cognitive impairment compared to non-drinkers.  Once you got up to four or more cups per day, though, the associated protection disappears.

This protection was not seen with tea or decaf coffee, so the benefit seems to be from the combination of the caffeine and some of coffee’s bioactive compounds.

In fact, new research from the University of South Florida found that this combination boosts blood levels of a critical growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor) that seems to prevent the formation of Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease have less  GCSF than the rest of the population. Increasing GCSF in mice improves their memory.

In the U of South Florida study, the researchers compared the effects of regular and decaf coffee to those of caffeine alone.  In both Alzheimer’s mice and normal mice, treatment with regular coffee dramatically increased blood levels of GCSF; neither caffeine alone nor decaf coffee provided this effect.

GCSF seems to improve memory performance in the Alzheimer’s mice in three ways:

  • It recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease.
  • It creates new connections between brain cells.
  • It increases the birth of new neurons in the brain.

As the lead researcher, neuroscientist Dr. Chuanhai Cao, remarked: “Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, appears to directly attack the disease process, and has few side-effects for most of us”.

According to the researchers, no other Alzheimer’s therapy being developed comes close to meeting all these criteria.

Take-home: Coffee seems to contain compounds that may reduce Alzheimer’s risk; and may also be part of a treatment protocol in the future.

Coffee, antioxidants & cancer

While dark chocolate and green tea gather a lot of acclaim for their antioxidant content, coffee actually outshines them both in this department.

In fact, the antioxidants in coffee may make up as much as 50-70% of the total antioxidant intake of the average American! (Which is not necessarily a good thing, because it means that there are a lot of vegetables not getting eaten…)

Despite some general worries about the health effects of coffee, coffee consumption is associated with an overall decreased risk of cancer.  In particular coffee consumption has been shown to be associated with a lower risk for oral, esophageal, pharyngeal, breast (in post-menopausal women), liver, colon, and aggressive prostate cancer.

When it comes to the prostate, researchers recently found that men who drank the most coffee (6 or more cups per day) were nearly 60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers.  Other research has shown that people who regularly consume two or more cups per day may have a 25% decreased risk of colon cancer.

Again, the research is mixed in part because of the variation in response to coffee.

Take-home: Coffee may lower your cancer risk, but don’t count on it as your only health strategy. And eat some vegetables already.

Coffee & cardiovascular health

Drinking unfiltered types of coffee can increase your levels of LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol. But overall the data seems to indicate that coffee consumption may moderately reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular complications.

Take-home: Research is mixed on cardiovascular disease and coffee.

Coffee & overall mortality

A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that drinking two to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a 10% decreased risk of death for men at any age, and a 13% decreased risk of death for women at any age.

In general, coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents or infections. (Which makes us wonder… what do they die of? Espresso steamer mishaps?)

Take-home: Coffee appears to generally lower overall premature mortality slightly.

Summary & recommendations

Coffee’s not for everyone. And it’s not a magic bullet. Still, it seems to have significant health benefits for those who can tolerate it. This includes:

  • better athletic and mental performance
  • possibly lower rates of some types of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and Type 2 diabetes
  • possibly some prevention of premature mortality and cardiovascular disease

Most of the research on coffee is epidemiological. This means studies look at associations rather than cause and effect. Simply because coffee is associated with particular risks and benefits doesn’t necessarily mean that coffee causes all of these risks or benefits.

Just as with all foods (and nutrients for that matter), dosage matters. While some studies have found large intakes (5-6 cups) to have significant benefits, other research suggests that drinking that much coffee is counter-productive.

In general, it appears that drinking some coffee is good, but more might not be better, especially if you are a slow metabolizer.  For those who are greatly affected by coffee and caffeine, avoid it altogether or cut down your consumption.

Want a quick and easy test of your coffee consumption? Ask yourself how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally a few hours after you drink some… as well as if you miss your daily dose.

Also, go black if possible. Pumping your coffee full of cream, sugar, and other exotic additives reduces any potential health benefits by adding unnecessary calories and artificial flavours and sweeteners. (And Frappucinos or chocolate covered coffee beans? C’mon.)

Taking all the data into consideration, it seems that your best bet is about 1-3 cups of coffee (8-24 oz) per day. This will maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk.

And keep this in mind…while there is positive data on coffee, these benefits don’t necessarily include things like energy drinks and caffeine pills.  There are many antioxidants and bioactive compounds in coffee that are interacting with its caffeine content to provide the benefits.  So, unfortunately, Red Bull doesn’t count.


John K. Francis. Coffea arabica L. RUBIACEAE. Factsheet of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Freedman N, et al.  Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality.  N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1891-1904

Hamza TH, et al.  Genome-wide gene-environment study identifies glutamate receptor gene GRIN2A as a Parkinson’s disease modifier gene via interaction with coffee.  PLoS Genet. 2011 Aug;7(8):e1002237.

Gavrieli A, et al.  Caffeinated coffee does not acutely affect energy intake, appetite, or inflammation but prevents serum cortisol concentrations from falling in healthy men.  J Nutr. 2011 Apr 1;141(4):703-7.

Cornelis MC, et al. Coffee, CYP1A2 Genotype, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction. JAMA. 2006;295(10):1135-1141

Wisborg K, et al. Maternal consumption of coffee during pregnancy and stillbirth and infant death in first year of life: prospective study. BMJ. 2003 326 (7386): 420.

Richelle M, et al. Comparison of the Antioxidant Activity of Commonly Consumed Polyphenolic Beverages (Coffee, Cocoa, and Tea) Prepared per Cup Serving. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2001, 49 (7), pp 3438–3442

Leitzmann WF, et al. A prospective study of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men.  JAMA. 1999 281:2106-12

Leitzmann MF, et al. Coffee intake is associated with lower risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in women. Gastroenterology. 2002 Dec;123(6):1823-30

Webster Ross G, et al. Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease.  JAMA. May 24, 2000, 283:20

Hancock DB, et al. Smoking, Caffeine, and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs in Families With Parkinson Disease. Arch Neurol. 2007;64(4):576-580.

Klatsky AL, et al. Coffee, Cirrhosis, and Transaminase Enzymes. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1190-1195.

van Dam RM, Hu FB. Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review.  JAMA. 2005 Jul 6;294(1):97-104.

Tavani, A, et al. Coffee and tea intake and risk of oral, pharyngeal and esophageal cancer. Oral Oncol. 2003 39 (7): 695-700.

Ganmaa D, Willett WC, Li TY, et al. Coffee, tea, caffeine and risk of breast cancer: a 22-year follow-up. Int  J Cancer 2008 122 (9): 2071-6.

Inoue M, Yoshimi I, Sobue T, Tsugane S. Influence of Coffee Drinking on Subsequent Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Prospective Study in Japan. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute 97 (4): 293-300

Nkondjock A. Coffee consumption and the risk of cancer: an overview. Cancer Lett. 2009 May 18;277(2):121-5.

Arab L. Epidemiologic evidence on coffee and cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(3):271-83.

Somoza V, et al. Activity-Guided Identification of a Chemopreventive Compound in Coffee Beverage Using in Vitro and in Vivo Techniques. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 51 (23), pp 6861–6869

American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Houston, Dec. 6-8, 2009.

Jarvis MJ. Does caffeine intake enhance absolute levels of cognitive performance? Psychopharmacology. 2 December 2005, 110:1-2, 45-52.

Johnson-Kozlow M, et al. Coffee Consumption and Cognitive Function among Older Adults. Am J Epidemiol 2002; 156:842-850

Lopez-Garcia E, et al. The Relationship of Coffee Consumption with Mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine 2008 Jun 17;148(12):904-14.

Koizumi A, Mineharu Y, Wada Y, Iso H et al. Coffee, green tea, black tea and oolong tea consumption and risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in Japanese men and women. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2011 65: 230-240.

Armstrong LE. Caffeine, body fluid-electrolyte balance, and exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exer Metab. 2002 Jun;12(2):189-206.

Maughan RJ, Griffin J. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a reviewJ Hum Nutr Diet. 2003 16(6):411–420.

Eskelinen MH, et al. Midlife Coffee and Tea Drinking and the Risk of Late-Life Dementia: A Population-Based CAIDE Study. J Alzheimers Dis. January 2009. 16(1);85-91

Cao C, et al. Caffeine suppresses amyloid-beta levels in plasma and brain of Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;17(3):681-97.

Take the Healthy Heart Challenge – National Heart Foundation

What is the Healthy Heart Challenge?

We Challenge you!

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Australian women. But it doesn’t have to be – you can do something about it

There is no single cause of heart disease, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing it. There are two different types of risk factors: lifestyle and clinical. Lifestyle risk factors include smoking, poor nutrition, physical inactivity and being overweight. Clinical risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Risk factors also include a family history of heart disease or heart attacks.

In Australia, 90% of women have one risk factor and 50% of women have two or three risk factors.2 The more risk factors, the greater the risk of heart disease.

But the good news is heart disease is largely preventable, because most risk factors can be managed or reduced. You just need to educate yourself, and the women you love, about heart disease and how to reduce your risk of developing it.

The 2012 Healthy Heart Challenge is here to help you do that.

Launched in 2011, the Challenge involves making simple changes to help reduce your risk of heart disease. It’s free and it runs for six weeks from 4 June until 15 July

Last year more than 17,000 women took part and of those surveyed afterwards:

  • 82% were eating their recommended two serves of fruit every day
  • 85% were eating their recommended five serves of vegetables every day
  • 18% quit smoking
  • 8% were able to stop taking their heart related medicine as advised by their doctor.

Many women think heart disease is only for older men to worry about, yet women are almost four times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer.1 There’s a lot more you should know about heart disease, including the risk factors and signs. Don’t let a heart attack be your first sign of heart disease. Take the Healthy Heart Challenge.How to sign up

The 2012 Healthy Heart Challenge runs from Monday 4 June to Sunday 15 July. The six week Challenge is free and you simply need to follow the steps below to register. Plus, if you complete your registration by 3 June you could win great prizes from our generous sponsors.

Choose a goal
Many women don’t know they have heart disease risk factors because they feel relatively fine. The Healthy Heart Challenge is about learning to understand your personal risk factors and how you can reduce them, before it is too late.

The Challenge focuses on four goals listed below – choose the one that inspires you to lead a healthier life:

  1. Lower high cholesterol levels
  2. Lower high blood pressure
  3. Be active every day
  4. Improve everyday nutrition
You can find out more about the goals here.
Now that you’ve chosen a goal from the list above, you can register online here.
What’s next? 
Once you’ve registered, you will receive an email from the Heart Foundation confirming your username and password for the Challenge.Use these details to log into the Healthy Heart Challenge website and access our healthy hints and tips and other useful information to help keep you motivated.You’ll also start to receive our Healthy Heart Challenge e-newsletters, letting you know what you need to do and giving you tips, information and recipes to help achieve your goal. You’ll also be prompted to track your progress online. This is a great way to make sure you stay on track and celebrate how far you’ve come.

Along the way you could also win a great range of prizes from our generous sponsors… just to help you stay motivated!
Encourage others

Make the Healthy Heart Challenge more fun and help yourself stay motivated by encouraging family, friends or colleagues to join as well. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, this could be the perfect mother/daughter activity – the gift that keeps on giving!  Plus, as a gift for you, you could win a fantastic prize pack from our generous sponsors if a woman you care about joins the Challenge.
Looking for more information?If you have any questions about the Healthy Heart Challenge please feel free to contact our Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87 (local charges apply) or via email

Heartmoves New exciting program starting on May 11th at Virgin Active Health Club Frenchs Forest


Most people know that regular physical activity is good for your health. But you don’t have to exercise at a vigorous level to achieve health benefits. To help, the Heart Foundation has developed a low-to-moderate intensity exercise program called Heartmoves, designed for people who are living with health conditions.

What is Heartmoves?

Heart Foundation Heartmoves is a gentle physical activity program suitable for anyone who hasn’t done any exercise in a while. You can exercise at your own pace in a friendly atmosphere.

Heartmoves is open to everyone and is designed to be safe for people with stable long term health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity.

Heartmoves is run by accredited exercise professionals specifically trained in managing safe, low to moderate intensity physical activity programs.

How Heartmoves can help you

Taking part in regular Heartmoves sessions can help:

  • lower blood pressure
  • improve cholesterol control
  • manage weight
  • improve well being and quality of life
  • manage diabetes
  • improve balance and flexibility
  • improve sleep
  • improve bone mineral density with arthritis management
  • prevent falls and injuries from falls

Heartmoves for people with multiple sclerosis

Heart Foundation and MS Australia – ACT/NSW/VIC have joined forces to get people moving in safe and appropriate Heartmoves programs.

Heartmoves is a fun, social and safe exercise program that has been developed for people with stable long term health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and bone or joint problems, as well as multiple sclerosis (MS).

The program focuses on delivering safe, low to moderate intensity exercise incorporating gentle aerobic activity, weight bearing or resistance exercise and stretching- all of which help to build strength and fitness as well as improve balance.

“Physical activity plays an important role in assisting to minimise the symptoms of MS which is why we are delighted to be working with the Heart Foundation to offer Heartmoves classes to people living with MS. Joining a Heartmoves class and participating regularly can make an important contribution not only to increased muscular strength and endurance but also toward reducing fatigue and stress levels” said Bill Younger, CEO MS Australia – ACT/NSW/VIC

“We are very excited to see Heartmoves being made available for people with MS” says Tony Thirlwell, Heart Foundation CEO – NSW. It is a fantastic program that can offer great benefits to people who may have previously felt worried about exercise.

Heartmoves aims to make exercise fun and social and for clients to enjoy themselves. There are always chairs available and the trained and accredited leaders can adapt the exercises to be undertaken in the chairs. Heartmoves leaders explain each exercise to participants and exercises are adapted for those with special needs


Contact Virgin Active Gym Frenchs Forest
Galy O’Connor via email:

Julia Walter’s “BIG SHAVE”

On Monday March 26th, 10.30 Julia Walters is taking the plunge.

Julia is going to shave her hair off for a cause.

Julia is going to shave her head in support of the great work NSW Cancer Council is doing and to show support and solidarity to all those who suffer from cancer.

This is what Julie writes to us:

“Take a second to have a think about how many people you know have cancer…quite a few I am sure…now think of their families who are impacted by their cancer.  Young children watching a sibling or a parent suffer through the treatment and pain and, at times losing them even after they thought the battle was won. This disease has to be stopped, we have to help finance research into its prevention and treatment and put an end to the misery it causes. I have been, as many of you also have been, touched by cancer, I lost my father and have witnessed many friends being torn apart both emotionally and physically as they battle through the treatment. I am a survivor myself. My campaign is not about me; it’s about you and your family, you and your friends. You can you help in many ways. One of them is to sponsor me as I shave my hair to identify with all those who lose their hair whilst in therapy… be part of helping to end to the misery that cancer causes.”

You can do so at:

You can donate on the day … contact me or find Fiona Brown to do so…

March 26th, 9.30 a.m.

Wear Yellow the Color of NSW Cancer Council