Friday, August 14, 2009

Best Options for a Vice

Everyone is human.

Myself included.

Lately, I've been drinking coffee. Of course it's organic and I only have one cup a few times a week, but it's still the dreaded COFFEEEEE (supposed to look spooky) that I learned in naturopathic school is something akin to devil water, especially if you have adrenal stress.

I admit, I have, at various times in the past, asked my patients to stop drinking this stuff. It is very dehydrating and can lead to mineral imbalances and even constipation if consumed excessively. It can also overstimulate a tired person, giving them a false sense of 'energy' when really they should be feeling so horribly fatigued that the only viable option for them should be a nap.

AND- It stains your teeth!

These are not good things.

Why then do I drink it sometimes? Why then have I recently adopted more of a lenient attitude about this beverage with my patients (and myself)? Well, a couple of reasons.

For one thing, as I mentioned already, I'm human. So are most of my patients.

Being human, amongst other things, means we are typically unable to maintain a perfect diet and lifestyle 100% of the time, especially if our lives are so crazy that we have no choice but to become so tired that even though we should (correction- we HAVE to) take a nap, we can't.

What are we all supposed to do then? Drinking green tea would a MUCH better idea if we needed a bit of caffeine pick-me-up, but green tea doesn't taste like coffee. So some of us, addicted as we are to its lovely flavor and aroma, will keep on drinking it, regardless of what I or anyone else tells them.

The point of this post then is this- For various reasons, some better than others, many of us feel as though we need a vice- some 'bad' habit or another that is less than perfectly healthy but makes us feel good. And so, I have come to realize that my job is not only to teach you about the healthiest possible things you can do in your life, but also to teach you about the healthiest UN-healthy things you can do in your life.

In other words, I know many of you think I'm a perfectionist when it comes to health, but I'm trying to be a realist here OK people? I know that this world if FULL of unhealthy things, many of which smell good, look good, taste good and can even make you feel good. These are attractive attributes, especially for someone who is so wiped out and worn down they don't smell good, look good, taste good OR feel good! So, I've come up with a short list of the healthiest options out there for a good old fashioned vice.

Here is my list:
  • Coffee
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Red Wine
What, no doughnuts? No french fries? Come on people, this isn't a free for all. There actually has to be some benefit to be had here. (I know, I know, "But french fries are made from potatoes, and potatoes are VEGETABLES!" Blah, blah, blah. I've heard it all before.)


So you are already familiar with some of the negative attributes of coffee. Well, there may be some other ones that are potentially much worse, but for the most part the jury is still out. You see, while some studies suggest that coffee could actually contribute to heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis, other studies show just the opposite, like this one and this one.

All that being said, coffee is still my least favorite vice, mainly because people tend to drink it (or "need it" as some of my patients like to say) when they really shouldn't, ie when they are wiped out and need a nap! If this is you, try the nap- it's cheaper and healthier. However, if you are basically healthy and just like the taste and the gentle pick me up it provides you, I don't really have a problem with it. I would, however, recommend always drinking an extra cup of water and making sure you are taking regular amounts of magnesium and other minerals to help compensate for some of the potential negative effects.

Dark Chocolate


High in powerful, disease preventing antioxidants.

Good fat source.

Lowers blood pressure and reduces stroke risk.

Potential aphrodisiac.

'Nuff said.

Red Wine

There is rapidly growing list of the likely health benefits to be had from consuming alcohol in moderation, in particular red wine. In fact, when consumed in moderation (1-2 small glasses per day) this is probably my favorite, "healthy" vice of all for most people.

The simple fact that red wine is high in resveratrol, perhaps one of the most health-benefiting antioxidants to be discovered yet, is good enough for me. But now, even the big boys in the health care industry are starting to sing its praises.

For a more comprehensive look at the health benefits of red wine, you can also take a look at my favorite blog, Mark's Daily Apple.


So, should we all just skip the exercise, sleep and organic whole foods eaten in a more 'primal way' and instead just eat chocolate, and alternate between cups of coffee and red wine?

Funny enough, if you did you'd probably still be better off than the average American, but obviously I gest.

The idea instead would be to do the exercise, get the good sleep and eat really good foods in a primal way, AND THEN feel free to dabble in a few, higher quality vices like these.

Adios from one human to another.....

1 comment:

Sue said...

Have you seen this over at Free the Animal - an article from the guardian about orthorexia nervosa - something to make you laugh.

"Britain is currently experiencing increase in orthorexia nervosa - sufferers restrict sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods"

The article suggested we paleo eaters have an eating disorder!