We are a society of go getters. Everything we do is for the right now and at this moment but to fuel this way of life, we need energy. Not the kind of energy that we eat since that enters the bloodstream too slowly. We want the type of energy that happens quickly in the form of a liquid. That source of energy is called caffeine. Let’s face it, most of us can’t function properly without that first cup of morning joe. That warmly brewed beverage that heightens our senses and adds alertness to our day. Without it, some might get the shakes while others get fidgety and scatter brained. Nonetheless, caffeine is considered a drug and acts like one.
Caffeine (#caffeine) is a bitter, white crystal that is extracted from seeds, nuts, or leaves of a number of plants. The most common source is from coffee beans which grown in central and south america. In its pure concentrated form as a white crystal, a small amount is actually very toxic to the point that it can kill you. In its diluted form such as in coffee, soda and energy drinks, it acts like a stimulant for your central nervous system. So as to not scare you off, one would need to consume the caffeine in coffee equivalent to 50-60 cups in a day for it to be considered lethal. Just like drinking 2 gallons of water quickly is actually lethal.
This psychoactive drug has several benefits, but is most known for preventing the onset of drowsiness by interfering with the natural chemical adenosine. Adenosine plays an important role in your body in promoting sleep, suppressing arousal and regulating blood flow to various organs. In terms of physical performance, it improves general body coordination, increased focus, improves task performance during sleep deprivation, improvement of reaction time, endurance, alertness and arousal.
You can add additional benefits such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia which is a chronic lung disorder of infants and children, apnea of prematurity, some protection against Parkinson’s disease, certain cancers and increasing regularity in bowel movements. The World Health Organization (WHO) has even classified caffeine citrate as one of the worlds essential medicines. Before you go out and start drinking energy drinks or caffeine pills, keep in mind that how the caffeine is consumed is just as important as where it came from. A cup of coffee has a lot more benefits than a rock star energy drink.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin. Even natural drugs have side effects that you can’t avoid. The most important one is the caffeine withdrawal associated with trying to stop drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks. Some might experience the shakes, headaches, irritability and sleepiness especially if you built up a high tolerance for coffee. These symptoms are a result of your body trying to cleanse itself from caffeine, although, the easiest cure for these side effects is to just continue drinking coffee or other drinks. Then there are the other side effects which include an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, reduction in gastric acid in your stomach and increased urination.
When using supplements, you have to be careful of the caffeine content in each pill. Unlike coffee, whereby hot water will remove the caffeine from the coffee grinds in a natural form, supplements in the form of drinks or pills are not designed with your safety in mind. Consider Nodoz pills or Vivarin which are used to prevent drowsiness and sold over the counter. Each pill is like drinking one cup of coffee. If you look at the red bull which was one of my favorite drinks with vodka, it not only contains almost 80mg per can of caffeine along with 26 grams of sugar. The drinks that have the most amount of caffeine on a per ounce basis are: large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with turbo shot (21mg), venti Starbucks coffee (20.5mg), redline energy drink (39.5mg), Bang energy drink (22mg) and 5 hour energy (109mg). Then teas such as Starbucks Tazo Awake or Tazo Earl Gray have a higher portion of caffeine.
If you consider food that also have a higher amount infused include Bang!! Caffeinated ice cream, Awake Caffeinated chocolate bar and bites and Cold Stone Creamery Mocha Ice Cream just to name a few. In energy drinks, the envelope is being pushed more and more. As an example, consider the energy drink called Cocaine. It averages 33mg per ounce and sold anywhere they sell soda. The kids today aren’t drinking just one can for the day but rather several over the course of the day. When know the effects associated with consuming caffeine, but we haven’t learned yet how consuming that much will affect your body. Doctors and health professionals know it’s not good for you but the people peddling the energy drinks just don’t seem to care.
What is your caffeine of choice?