Coffee’s Effects on Our Endocannabinoid System

Daily consumption of caffeine is seen as a “normal” addiction, er, habit. It doesn’t seem to pose any deleterious health effects, and, tolerance and withdrawal aside, many people can stay on a daily “maintenance dose” of coffee without any adverse consequences. That common perception, however, may be challenged based on data suggesting that caffeine can affect our newly discovered physiological system: the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine last year by Dr. Marilyn C. Cornelis and colleagues of Northwestern University studied the metabolome (a profile of metabolites) of 47 habitual coffee consumers across 3 months. For the first month, the study participants were to abstain for coffee (that must have been painful). In the second month, the participants were instructed to drink four cups a day and in the third month, they had to drink eight cups a day. Scientists measured the level of different metabolites in the participants’ fasting serum at each month.

The researchers found a total of 115 metabolites associated with coffee intake. These metabolites tend to be associated with a particular biological pathway. The scientists mapped the metabolites to 33 known pathways. Eighty-two of the 115 metabolites found had already been identified. Researchers observed a significant increase of metabolites related to 5 specific pathways: xanthine metabolism; benzoate metabolism; steroid metabolism; fatty acid metabolism and endocannabinoid metabolism.

These metabolites could be traced back to their sources (for example, xanthine metabolism produces caffeine metabolites). Some were previously unknown to be related to coffee metabolism. For instance, it had not been previously reported that fatty acid metabolism was involved in coffee metabolism. What was especially surprising was the finding of metabolites related to the ECS. What would the ECS have to do with coffee? And what does it mean for the ECS?

Metabolites related to the ECS decreased in response to coffee consumption. This is despite the fact that caffeine has not been shown to activate common endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). However, that fact does not preclude the observed reduction in metabolites related to the ECS. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that there is something else that decreases ECS function: chronic stress. What does this have to do with coffee?

Caffeine can induce a stress response in some individuals. The ECS is thought to maintain several biological and psychological processes, and stress is one of them. Prolonged stress can decrease the function of the ECS. So, is there a coffee-stress-ECS connection? This is probably an overly simplistic interpretation of the data. In fact, stress appears to have a bidirectional effect on the production of certain endocannabinoids. Stress can increase the production of the endocannabinoid anandamide but decrease the production of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG).

The “why” and the “how” of the decrease in ECS-related metabolites are not yet understood. The authors concede that this is merely an observation, or a starting point, if you will, for further research. At most, they suggest that the reduction of coffee metabolites processed by the ECS may be due to a desensitization of the ECS to coffee. Furthermore, this does not address the effects of phytocannabinoids, such as CBD or THC, may have in combination with caffeine intake. So, until that data comes out, maybe order a grande instead of a venti?

Source: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Journal of Internal Medicine, Drug Discovery Today, Neuropsychopharmacology, Journal of Caffeine Research, Nature Reviews: Neuroscience,

Chocolate is Better for Your Cough Than Cough Syrup, Study Says

Image result for dark chocolate

It may sound too good to be true, but researchers now say indulging in that piece of chocolate is actually the best cure for your cough.

A research group from a university in England randomly prescribed more than 160 patients either regular cough medicine or a chocolate-based medicine.

Patients on the chocolate-based medication reported improving more quickly than those on regular cough syrup.

Scientists believe the properties of cocoa help relieve irritation and inflammation.

Preferably make it DARK and RAW chocolate, which is WAY healthier than milk or conventional chocolate!

Blow to Low Carb Diet as Landmark Study Finds High Fiber Cuts Heart Disease Risk- But It Matters Where the Fiber Comes From!

Spinach with Gamasio

Eating more fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, herbs as well as nuts and pulses, will cut people’s chances of heart disease and early death, according to a landmark review commissioned by the World Health Organization. Many organizations recommend more grains and breads, but these are mostly empty carbs.  You want 80% of the volume of food you eat each day to be fruits, veggies, salads and herbs. This will give you the fiber you need as well as an abundance of nutrients, enzymes and phyto-chemicals.

The authors of the review, which will inform forthcoming WHO guidelines, say their findings are good news – but incompatible with fashionable low-carb diets.

The research is led by Prof Jim Mann’s team at the University of Otago in New Zealand, who also carried out the major review that informed WHO guidance on curbing sugar in the diet, leading to sugar taxes around the world.

Sugar is a “bad” carbohydrate, but fiber is found in “good” carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs. However, the overwhelming backlash against sugar has led to popular diets that reject carbohydrates, including the fibrous sort that can, say the scientists, save lives.

Mann told the Guardian that the research “does contribute to the debate considerably. Here we have got very strong evidence that a high-fiber diet, which for the majority of people is at least high-ish in carbohydrates, has an enormous protective effect – a wide range of diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer benefit from a high-carbohydrate diet.”

But he said it would not end the “diet wars”, because there were so many vested interests involved. “It’s twofold. There is the commercial vested interest, which there is an enormous amount of from chefs and celebrity chefs and so on. And there is also the professional vested interest.” This included some doctors and scientists, he said.

The review found that we should be eating at least 25g to 29g of fiber a day, with indications that over 30g is even better. Most people in the world manage less than 20g.

Among those who ate the most fiber, the analysis found a 15-30% reduction in deaths from all causes, as well as those related to the heart, compared with those eating the least fiber.

Coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer were reduced by 16-24%. The results mean 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of coronary heart disease for every 1,000 people who eat high-fiber foods compared with those who do not.

Minimally processed fibrous foods can also help people lose weight. “The randomised controlled trials involving an increase in the intake of fruits and vegetables showed reduction in body weight and cholesterol,” says the paper published in the Lancet medical journal.

“Fiber-rich whole foods that require chewing and retain much of their structure in the gut increase satiety and help weight control and can favorably influence lipid and

The researchers investigated 185 observational studies containing data that related to 135m person years, as well as 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adults. For every 8g increase in dietary fiber eaten per day, total deaths and incidences of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 5-27%. Protection against stroke and breast cancer also increased.

In a comment piece in the Lancet, Prof Gary Frost from Imperial College London said the analysis “provides compelling evidence that dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables major determinants of numerous health outcomes and should form part of public health policy”.

But only 9% of the UK population eat the large amounts of fiber outlined in the paper, he said, and “public health bodies face considerable challenges altering intake at the population level”.

Other scientists backed the findings and said the public should eat more fiber. “It is a concern that the fiber consumption in the UK is on average, currently much less than [30g a day]. It is also worrying that otherwise healthy consumers who try to follow popular diets low in carbohydrate will find it very difficult to achieve a healthy level of fiber intake,” said Dr Ian Johnson, emeritus fellow at the Quadram Institute Bioscience.

Prof Nita Forouhi of Cambridge University’s MRC epidemiology unit said the findings “do imply that, though increasingly popular in the community at large, any dietary regimes that recommend very low-carbohydrate diets should consider the opportunity cost of missing out on fiber from whole grains”.

When it came to carbohydrates, she said, “the quality matters very much, over and above the debate on quantity. Wholegrain foods are typically high in fiber, and this research provides further evidence to highlight their importance and support a shift in our diets from processed and refined foods in the food supply chain towards more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.”

Easy Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

4 large  egg whites
2 tablespoons  plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
4 whole  boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup  orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon  soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon  rice vinegar
¼ teaspoon  sesame oil
½ teaspoon  salt
¼ teaspoon  crushed red pepper
1 clove  garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons  minced ginger
¼ cup  water
3 tablespoons  vegetable oil
2 whole  green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon  toasted sesame seeds

  1. Using a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and 2 Tablespoons arrowroot until frothy. Place the chicken in the bowl and coat with the egg mixture. Allow the chicken to sit and soak up the mixture for about 5 minutes.
  2. Warm a nonstick large skillet on the stove. Place the orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, crushed pepper, garlic and ginger into the pan. Whisk together and heat until boiling. Turn the temperature down to low; cover, and allow the sauce to simmer for 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Combine the water and remaining arrowroot in a mixing bowl, and stir until the arrowroot is dissolved. Stir with the whisk as you slowly add the water to the sauce. You may add more water, such as 2 to 3 tablespoons, if the sauce becomes too thick for your liking.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the chicken to the oil in small batches. Stir the chicken around the pan with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes, so that it cooks evenly. Drain the cooked chicken on clean paper towels.
  5. Once all of the chicken is cooked, toss it in the sauce until it is well coated. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onion.

Orange chicken is traditionally served over white rice, but you may substitute sides as you like. Some pairing suggestions include sautéed spinach, steamed broccoli, rice noodles and vegetable spring rolls.

Don’t Be Misled by Fad Diets

Image result for fruits and veggies

Keto, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Vegan, Vegetarian…all are belief systems.  You need tradition Nutrition, healthy mix of fats, proteins and fruits and veggies! AND plenty of herb and spices, their depth of nutrition is amazing!

I came across an article this morning that promised a 3 Day Keto Diet Plan for under $30.   You can read the article here- 

Keto On The Cheap:A 3-Day Keto Plan For Under $30. a Day

Let’s do a Nutrition Breakdown!

Day One-        Breakfast- 2 Eggs Baked in Avocado Halves

                           Lunch-         Creamed Kale

                           Dinner-       Pesto Zucchini Noodles


Yep, that is the whole day of food that they recommend!   Absurd!

Nutrition-   1395 calories- way too low to meet your energy or nutrient needs.

                        66% Fat-   too high!

                        12% Protein-  too low.

                        Too low in zinc, Vitamin C, drastically too low in B12, too low in B1, B2.


Let’s look at Day 2;     Breakfast-  fasting, no food

                                           Lunch-    4 cups roasted cauliflower with olive oil and lemon juice

                                           Dinner – 2 eggs with spinach,Kalamata olives and some nut cheese.

Nutrition;                       542 calories- absolutely ridiculous!

                                            61% fat –  too high, and most of the fat was monounsaturated fats (not healthy and will lead to sticky blood lipids)

                                            16% protein-   no where near enough!

                                            44% of needed potassium,  30% of needed fiber, 19% of needed calcium (YIKES!!), 28% of needed iron, 18% of zinc, 10% of needed Vitamin C, 72& of Vitamin D, 45% of needed Vitamin A, ALL B Vitamins were less than half of what was needed per day!

You can’t restrict calories and be healthy. Period.  You need a minimum of 1800 calories a day to meet your nutrient needs.  Each meal should include a mix of raw and cooked foods.  You need three square meals a day.  It is ok to eat only fruits and veggies for a month to do a detox, but any more than that and you will develop nutrient deficiencies.

HERE is a perfect day, nutrient and calorie wise;

Ideal Day


2 whole eggs (omelet) with mushrooms, onions, peppers, fresh salsa
1 teaspoon butter
½ cup blueberries, watermelon, bananas, or fruit salad.

Midmorning- 12 ounce smoothie with lots of Baby greens (preferably microgreens) *


4 ounces salmon
4 cups romaine lettuce
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup onions
1/3 cup black olives
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup tomatoes
1 tablespoon walnuts
1/2 cup cucumber


6 ounces seafood, eggs or chicken most nights, mix it up with some other kind of meat as long as it’s totally organic! Beef once a month
1 sweet potato
2 cups spinach, Swiss chard, Beet greens, collards,
2 tablespoons onion
3 slices tomato
1 tablespoon butter
6 ounces red wine

*    Smoothie- 2 cups Smoothie (banana, blueberries, mango or pineapple, coconut water, 1 tablespoon coconut milk, lime juice, 3 cups spinach, collagen powder, vitamin c powder)

Nutrition Class with Millie Barnes in Riverside beginning January 16th!


I am offering a 6 Weeks Nutrition Class beginning January 16th at Riverside Park United Methodist Church. We will study the basics of nutrition; how to meet your nutrient needs, how to lose weight, how to shop, eat out and many tips as to meal planning and cooking. Class is limited to 12 students, so sign up today!

I will review food diaries between classes to help you get on track.

Here is the link to register- (sign up before the 9th and get $5.00 off.

What Should You Eat Each Day? (Hint- more Fruits and Veggies!)

Asparagus Walnut Salad

It’s been a confusing few decades; low fat or not, are eggs healthy, what about fats, why NOT cook with olive oil?

Americans are confused. What IS great nutrition?  What about calories?  Why can’t I lose weight, I exercise a lot?

These are just a few of the question I am asked all of the time from my clients.  Americans simply do not know what they should eat each day. We have listened to the FDA for several decades telling us how to eat. First we were told that vegetarianism was the way to go. Then all we heard about for 20+ years was that we should eat low fat, avoid eggs, avoid animal fats…

NONE of which is true!

Low fat has lead us to the epidemic in cancer, depression and learning disabilities.  We are 36 in the world for infant mortality, we have an epidemic in obesity. Out life span, for the first time in our history is actually going down!

So what should you eat each day?  A moderate amount of animal fats, small amounts of vegetables oils (such as olive oils, but NEVER heated), about 4 to 6 ounces of protein at each meal and the remaining calories should all come from vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Speaking of calories, lowering calories does not make you lose weight. It makes you stay in starvation mode. Starvation mode is when your body hangs on to every single calorie you take in to try to nourish you as well as possible. Remember that mother nature just wants to keep us well nourishes long enough for us to breed. So losing weight on 1400 calories a day doesn’t work. If it did then we would all be at our recommended weight as the average American takes in only about 1400 calories a day. And a lot of those calories are not from whole, healthy foods.

So eat like our grandparents, or maybe your great grandparents did. Three healthy meals a day. Eat some raw feed with each meal, a salad or sliced tomatoes are great. Avoid grains, dairy and soy. An omelet with spinach and salsa and a bowl of fruit make a great breakfast. A high quality protein at the other two meals, a green leafy at each meal, a salad, plenty of low glycemic veggies and some fruit for snacks ate all you really need to heal, stay in great health and have plenty of energy. You need about 1700 to 2000 calories a day, depending on your size and activity level.

Stay away from foods that come in cans or boxes. Make it as fresh and organic as you can.

You can also work with me to help you make the changes, and/or use my wonderful Meal Delivery Service. Cal;l me today with questions!


Beyond-Paleo Meal Delivery Service