De­caf is OK but green tea is best

New Zealand’s favourite well­be­ing ex­pert an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions about their health and well­be­ing.

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH - Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. To read more from Dr Libby, be sure to get her monthl

I’ve re­cently changed to de­caf­feinated coffee but some­one told me it’s worse for you than or­di­nary coffee – is this true? Thanks Greg.

Hi Greg. The an­swer to this ques­tion truly de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual, their bio­chem­istry and how sen­si­tive they are to caf­feine. Orig­i­nally the process used to ex­tract caf­feine from the coffee used chem­i­cals, which meant the de­caf­feinated coffee was es­sen­tially a poorer choice than caf­feinated coffee. How­ever, now more and more com­pa­nies use a wa­ter ex­trac­tion method, also known as the Swiss wa­ter ex­trac­tion process, which is cer­tainly a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive.

How­ever, green tea is a pref­er­en­tial choice as it con­tains many other health ben­e­fits in­clud­ing the calm­ing ef­fect of an amino acid l-thea­nine, and plenty of an­tiox­i­dants. Be aware that green tea still con­tains some caf­feine though. If you want a caf­feine free milky drink, try roasted dan­de­lion tea (avail­able from the su­per­mar­ket) and add your favourite frothed milk to it. That way you sup­port liver detox­i­fi­ca­tion path­ways and can en­joy a lovely flavour.

Why is it that any time I be­come stressed I gain weight? I try to eat less but I just feel my clothes get­ting tighter and tighter. Thanks, Sarah

Hi Sarah. The hu­man body makes two dom­i­nant stress hor­mones. They are adrenalin and cor­ti­sol. Cor­ti­sol is our chronic stress hor­mone. In other words, we tend to make too much of it when we are stressed for a long time.

His­tor­i­cally, the only long-term stresses hu­mans had were floods, famines and wars; all sce­nar­ios where food may have been scarce. To­day, our long-term-stress tends to come from re­la­tion­ship or fi­nan­cial wor­ries, or health or weight con­cerns.

How­ever, be­cause cor­ti­sol was de­signed to save your life when food was scarce, even though food may be abun­dant for you to­day, cor­ti­sol sends ames­sage to ev­ery cell in your body that your me­tab­o­lism needs to be slowed down so that those pre­cious fat stores can keep you go­ing un­til the food sup­ply re­turns.

Cor­ti­sol has a dis­tinct fat de­po­si­tion pat­tern. It lays fat down around your middle, on the back of

your arms and you grow what I lov­ingly call a back veranda. Most peo­ple’s re­sponse to fat ac­cu­mu­la­tion around their tum­mies is to go on a diet, which means eat­ing less food. This only con­firms to your body what cor­ti­sol has driven your body to be­lieve is true, when in fact the op­po­site is true and food is likely to be abun­dant for you.

When you re­strict your food in­take on your ‘‘diet’’ you slow your me­tab­o­lism even fur­ther, mak­ing it feel like you only have to look at food for weight to go on. Stress is hav­ing a huge im­pact on our abil­ity to lose weight and se­condly, to keep it off, some­thing I talk about in my book Ac­ci­den­tally Over­weight.

De­caf­feinated coffee used to be the poorer choice but is now a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive thanks to com­pa­nies us­ing a dif­fer­ent process to ex­tract the caf­feine.

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