By Matthew Jahnke

Caffeine: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

February 16th, 2011 in News 8 comments

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Fatigue comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes it can appear in the case of the college student. Menacingly staring at the computer, eyes fixated on making sure the final paper meets the suggested word count, the college student desperately tries to block out the urge and addiction of distractions. Yet as the night sky soon turns bright with the rising sun, the college student’s attention shifts more and more from the task at hand, to the preparation of the pick-me-up beverage of choice, caffeine. With only minutes before the first morning class, the college student is faced with the harsh reality of selecting his weapon of choice. Will he run across the street, bracing the brutal winds to grab a caffe mocha with a double shot of espresso, or play it conservative, and go for it with the 5 hour energy shot or name brand energy drink?

Soda, coffee, and energy drinks are the three main drinks that come to mind when thinking about caffeine. But besides these  drinks, caffeine has shown to be increasingly prevalent in different foods covering multiple food groups. While most people concede to the negative attention these beverages receive, caffeine is a three – headed monster that yields both positive and negative effects. Thus the real question should be, do you want the good or the bad news first?

CaffieneStarting with the good: caffeine can increase your short-term memory and alertness while also altering your overall mood. The caffeine in one cup of coffee can stimulate the central system as it simultaneously lowers blood sugar, thus creating a temporary lift. Further research conducted by the Journal of Sports Medicine showed how “caffeine taken two hours before exercise enhanced the performance of athletes in marathon running.” Yet another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Associated indicated that “people who drink coffee on a regular basis have up to 80% lower risks of developing Parkinson’s disease.”

On the contrary, caffeine does have a dark side. Caffeinated foods can contribute to a person’s struggle with either weight gain or hunger. The stimulant itself is known to increase appetite, to increase cortisol levels, and to increase levels of insulin. Any of these factors may combine with a caffeine-induced stress that often affects the results of dieters, being that caffeine is a natural diuretic which can lead to water retention. Caffeinism, as it is often referred to, can come in waves of migraine headaches and sickness, which in turn can cause nervousness and a rapid heartbeat. So does this mean that you shouldn’t have a cup of coffee in the morning? My response is no.

Ahhh coffee, such a misunderstood luxury. Caffeine, within coffee beans, has shown to be a leading source of both brain and body health benefits, specifically playing the role of your average American’s number one source of antioxidants. In fact, regular coffee consumption has shown to dramatically reduce the chance of mental heath risks including Alzheimer’s and Dementia. However, coffee is one of those things that is always looked down upon as if it induces the same affects as alcohol. The real problem lies not with the coffee, but with all the other unhealthy ingredients that it can be mixed with. For example, which sounds healthier, a strait shot of Espresso or a Cinnamon-Dulce-White-Mocha-Frappucino, cream based. Now when you compare the carb, chemical, and fat information of the two with the purity of the first, the controversy over coffee is plain and simple.

In essence, caffeine is one of those things that must be taken in moderation. While caffeine contains both positive and negative extremes, a balanced consumption of caffeine through artificial drinks or coffee in its purest form, seems to be just fine, especially with the college students.

Caffeine – K. Cossaboon

Foods Containing Caffeine – Ella Rain

Brain Healthy Foods – Brain Ready

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Coaching With Compassion Lights Up Human Thoughts

November 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized 0 comments

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Lets face it, coaching is just a part of our everyday lives. Whether or not we accept the advice or let our alter-egos consume us with pride remains in question, but ultimately learning is the number one goal. A major topic of research at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management since 1990, coaching has withstood the test of time as research continues to be conducted to prove “effective coaching can lead to smoothly functioning organizations, better productivity and potentially more profit.”

However, there is still  little understanding as to what kind of interactions can contribute to or detract from coaching’s effectiveness. Ways of coaching can and do vary widely, due to a lack of understanding of the psycho-physiological mechanisms which react to positive or negative stimulus. Internal Research done by the university has since compared varying coaching styles, from the kind and compassionate vs. the rugged and raw. The results can then be used to reveal the psychological methods by which learning can be enhanced or reduced, depending on the style of coaching in question. ”We’re trying to activate the parts of the brain that would lead a person to consider possibilities,” said Richard Boyatzis, distinguished university professor, and professor of organizational behavior, cognitive science and psychology. “We believe that would lead to more learning. By considering these possibilities we facilitate learning.”

The Coaching Triangle of

The Coaching Triangle of "Positivity"

Boyatzi believes that coaches attempt to arouse a Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA), which causes positive emotion and arouses neuroendocrine systems that stimulate better cognitive functioning and increased perceptual accuracy and openness in the person being coached, taught or advised. On the flip side, emphasizing negativity through weaknesses and flaws, yields an opposite result. “You would activate the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA), which causes people to defend themselves, and as a result they close down,” Boyatzis says. “One of the major reasons people work is for the chance to learn and grow. So at every managerial relationship, and every boss-subordinate relationship, people are more willing to use their talents if they feel they have an opportunity to learn and grow.”

Boyatzi demonstrated his ideas, when two academic coaches with contrasting styles were each assigned to a volunteer undergraduate student. Following a series of questions, Boyatzi found that “people respond much better to a coach they find inspiring and who shows compassion for them, rather than one who they perceive to be judging them. Sure enough, we found a trend in the same direction even for the neutral questions. Students tended to activate the areas associated with visioning more with the compassionate coach, even when the topics they were thinking about weren’t so positive,” Jack said (Boyatzi’s assistant).

All and all,  everyone has a few weaknesses whether the’yre willing to admit it or not, but often the focus is so much on the bottom line that we worry ourselves into the ground. Rather it is more important to focus on what gets you going in the morning and gets you wanting to work hard and stay late that truly embodies ones character.

Sources:

Coaching With Compassion Can ‘Light Up’ Human Thoughts – Science Daily

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