Many people know diet is a crucial part of a health conscious lifestyle. But according to recent research, certain foods and ingredients can go far beyond keeping a trim waistline. This week’s “What Do I Need To Know” blog post explores how baking soda might help keep arthritis at bay, which foods can literally help you build a bigger brain, and how caffeine might be a key player in longevity.

Reduce inflammation…with baking soda?

While baking soda can conjure up images of lonely boxes left in the fridge, what you might not know is that baking soda is a virtual pharmacy in a single tablespoon. According to recent research, a daily dose of baking soda can help reduce inflammatory conditions—such as arthritis—by lowering the immune response of the spleen. A mix of baking soda and water also makes a great way to remove pesticides on non-organic produce—just let it soak for 12-15 minutes. And taking 300mg of baking soda 1-2 hours before a high intensity workout might help move acid more quickly out of muscles—improving performance. So pull that old box out of the fridge and start reaping the health benefits of baking soda.

Can you really build a bigger brain?

Many of us have heard of “brain food,” but did you know certain diets can help you build a bigger brain? Recent research shows diets that emphasize fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish—while reducing sugary drinks—are correlated with an increase in brain volume, which can aid in cognition. Meditation is also linked with increasing the volume of certain areas of the brain linked with regulating emotions. And aerobic exercise—2-5 sessions of walking, running, or cycling a week—can help prevent brain shrinkage and increase volume in areas that aid in memory. So cook up some kale, go for a jog, and sit quietly for a few minutes each day to reap the benefits of building a bigger brain.

What’s the right dose of coffee for health benefits?

The answer varies by an individual’s size, tolerance, metabolic speed, and timing of the caffeine dose, but there are some patterns to reaping the full benefits of of coffee. Drinking about 2-3 cups a day is linked with improved metabolic health, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and an increase in cardiovascular benefits. Raising it to 400mg daily—about 4 cups worth of drip coffee—expresses a metabolite that slows cell aging, according to new research. These benefits are associated with caffeinated and not decaf coffee. Just be careful raising the caffeine dose too high, as going over 4 cups a day can induce jitteriness, anxiety, headaches, and nausea in many people and—in rare cases—lead to heart problems.


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