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Friday, August 18, 2017


This past week has been notable, especially for residents of the tables I join for dinner at 15 Craigside.  Two articles appeared in the local paper, one reporting on a study that the moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, and another that even heavy drinking reduces dementia,

Many of us have high blood sugar.  There is a myth that ethanol breaks down into sugar, so don't drink.  But the misunderstanding is that ethanol is produced from the fermentation of sugar, which is not reversible.  This Danish research project, monitoring 76,484 humans for five years. suggested that, compared with those who abstain, consuming alcohol three or four days a week was associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes--27% for men and 32% for women.  Additionally:  
  • Seven glasses of wine/week lowered the risk of diabetes by 25%-35%.
  • However, the lowest risk of diabetes was observed at 14 drinks/week for men and 9 drinks/week for women!
  • For men, one to six glasses/week of beer lowered the risk by 21%, but there was no impact on females.  Didn't see the equivalent "lowest risk" volume, which should be around double that range if logic prevails.
  • However, gin and other spirits could well increase getting diabetes by 83%, but only for females.  Well, at least it stipulates women, for some reason, but, again, logic can only lead to this same projection for males.
Regarding dementia, 1000 middle class white men and women were contacted every four years for three decades by the University of California in San Diego.  They found that those who drank moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol five to seven days/week were twice as likely to be more healthy than non-drinkers.  Those who had up to three drinks on most days were twice as likely to reach 85 without developing dementia.  LET ME REPEAT THIS:  THOSE WHO HAD UP TO THREE DRINKS ON MOST DAYS WERE TWICE AS LIKELY TO REACH 85 WITHOUT DEVELOPING DEMENTIA.

What is "good" heavy drinking, anyway?  For men over 65, four drinks/day.  Three/day for older females.  Read the details in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

It has long been known that ethanol, particularly red wine, was good for your heart.  For these two just-mentioned studies, red wine was not specifically identified, and beer was added.  Now, in any case, alcohol is also good for your head.

Hate to ruin what you might have thought was healthy...but tea is not proven to shield you from dementia.  This bit of surprising news comes from a National University of Singapore study of 900 Chinese people 55 and above.  However, a Harvard report of another (?) National University of Singapore study, this over five years, following 957 adults of average 65 years, showed that tea drinkers had a 50% lower risk of dementia!!!  

Contradictory, but my analysis is that both are pointing to the same study, and the confusion came in the interpretations.  This was one of those complicated cases where one publication looked at the silver lining, while the other looked for flaws.  It happens all the time.  

Well, does tea prevent Alzheimer's or not?  Tea has caffeine, and caffeine is more and more indicated as the active agent in the delay of dementia.  So, tea-drinking must be healthful!  I haven't seen anything, anyway, that indicates tea is bad for your health.

What about coffee?  Three cups of coffee/day cut the risk of Alzheimer's by more than 25%.  Also works against Parkinson's.  Now, this announcement comes from the European Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.  It does worry me a bit that this "non-profit" is funded by Illycaffe, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lavazza, Nestle, Paulig and Tchibo.   What are they?  Only the six largest coffee companies on the continent. 

Further, from a Finnish medical school:  coffee drinking of 3-5 cups per day at midlife was associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD by about 65% at late-life.  But from Old Dominion University from the USA,:  coffee can reduce the levels of beta amyloid, a destructive protein commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, by as much as 50%.  So there is reason to believe that the "coffee is good for you" story is not purely connivance by a European coffee cartel.

Case in point, Alzheimer', an American organization, reports that caffeine:
  • Blocks inflammation in the brain, delaying the onset of Alzheimer's.
  • Is an adenosine receptor antagonist, which is good.
  • Boosts brain function and memory.
  • Protects against Type 2 diabetes...which can lead to Alzheimer's.  Did you know that 70% of people who suffer from type 2 diabetes go on to develop Alzheimer's disease?
Let me also add that:
  • 25% of older people have diabetes and 50% in addition are pre-diabetic.
  • While 30 million Americans have diabetes, 84 million more have pre-diabetes.
  • Are you concerned about a future Alzheimer's crisis?
  • Five years ago it was determined that diabetes costs the nation $245 billion/year.  Must be higher today, and the long term implications are frightening.
Back to caffeine, you now have a judgement call to make about de-caffeinated coffee.  But caffeine can affect sleep.  So what is more important, sleep or diabetes/dementia? Yes, I need to let you know that a lack of sleep can spur Alzheimer's.   Decisions. Decisions.

Wait a minute now.  Tea leaves have more caffeine than coffee beans.  Why shouldn't tea be as good, if not better, as coffee, for combatting dementia?  For one, the brewing process for coffee is more efficient in extracting caffeine.  For some reason, most of the caffeine from tea leaves is drawn out in the first ten seconds.  Thus, steeping does not help much.  The recommendation is just to use more tea leaves.

From the Mayo Clinic:
Coffee drinksSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Brewed8 (237)95-165
Brewed, decaf8 (237)2-5
Espresso1 (30)47-64
Espresso, decaf1 (30)0
Instant8 (237)63
Instant, decaf8 (237)2
Latte or mocha          8 (237)63-126
TeasSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Brewed black8 (237)25-48
Brewed black, decaf8 (237)2-5
Brewed green8 (237)25-29
Ready-to-drink, bottled8 (237)5-40
SodasSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Citrus (most brands)8 (237)0
Cola8 (237)24-46
Root beer (most brands)8 (237)0
Energy drinksSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Energy drink                  8 (237)27-164
Energy shot1 (30)40-100
I can't seem to find any publication saying ENERGY DRINKS PREVENT DEMENTIA.  Most sites tend to criticize these drinks as too high in sugar and are health risks.  Here is a more complete table:

Product                     Size                     Caffeine  Content

Red Bull              8.4 oz (250 ml)                 80 mg
AMP                  16 oz (473 ml)                  142 mg
Monster             16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
Rockstar            16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
NOS                  16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
Full Throttle       16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
5-Hour Energy    1.93 oz (57 ml)               200 mg

Note that 5-H E has 200 mg only with 1.93 oz.  You've absolutely got to read my posting about 5-Hour Energy:

So, yes, 5-HE does keep you up, but the inability to sleep was not only inconvenient, it was frightening.  I felt like I had some kind of bad psychological experience, not far unlike from magic truffles.  I certainly won't be taking anything like 5-Hour Energy again in my life

But why bother with energy drinks, for they are expensive, and I'm not sure if you can find one low in sugar/substitutes.  What about caffeine pills?  They are both drug and food additive, and can be found as Vivarin, Cafcit, NoDoz, Jet-Alert etc.  The recommendation is 200-400 mg/day.  Caffeine pills are taken for an energy boost.  However, they can cause hypertension, insomnia, cardiac arrhythmia, liver/kidney disease, anxiety and ulcers, among a host of terrible things.

Definitely, too, watch out for overdosing.  One teaspoon of pure caffeine powder equals more than 25 cups of coffee, so don't buy this form, which should be the cheapest.  I didn't do much of a search, but the best I could find was $18.60/100,000 mg from Blackburn Distributions.  Supposedly, the FDA is cracking down on this supplement.  It is tempting, though, to carefully monitor this powder into what you drink, making sure you don't exceed 400 mg/daily, for it is a hassle, if not also expensive, to drink several cups of coffee/day.

90 caplets of 200 mg Jet-Alert are sold by Walmart for $3.43, which, per pill, costs just about the same as that powder version in the previous paragraph.  Only came on the market in 2009.  The old standard, NoDoz, is also 200 mg/caplet, and 60 of them costs $7.47.  Don't know why, but only 16 caplets of Vivarin at 200 mg costs $3.23.  Why are the prices so different?  They're basically the same product.  Check with your doctor.  I haven't ever purchased any of these, and don't plan to either.  Had a college roommate who survived deadlines on NoDoz, and is still alive and well today.  No signs of dementia.

Quite a bit of information for a posting that I tried to keep simple and short.  I was not aware that caffeine was so effective against dementia!  The bottom line is that my lifestyle involving four alcoholic drinks and a couple cups of coffee daily to fight off Alzheimer's and diabetes seems reasonable, now that I've found a better solution for my hypertension.  There are some downsides, of course, sleep being my next white rat experiment, but that is my choice.  You determine what you want to do.  Have a great weekend.

There is a tropical depression in the East Pacific that will become a hurricane and head for Hawaii.  All signs show a slight turn north and weakening before getting to close to the state:


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