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The daily boost

February 20, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
Think you aren’t getting too much caffeine? You might not know that caffeine is hidden in many things we consume every day. According to the Web site, health.howstuffworks.com, caffeine is an addictive drug that manipulates our brain cells the same way as amphetamines and heroin., but on a much small scale. Many people claim they can’t start their day without their morning dose of caffeine. Others rely on it in the afternoon, whether in the form of hot coffee or that large cola drink, to get them past the mid-afternoon slump. I like to think I’m not addicted to caffeine, but I’m not really so sure. I don’t drink coffee, but I do like my morning cup or two of tea. I generally buy decaffinated tea, but not always. But I often have a diet cola with lunch and it isn’t always caffeine free. My husband, who does drink a couple cups of coffee each morning, gets a horrific headache if he goes without two days in a row. I’ve gone without the cola and the caffinated tea; however, with no known repercussions. While I’ve never been a fan of the taste of coffee, I have purposely drank a half cup of the stuff without enhancements like milk or sugar to combat headaches. Caffeine constricts blood vessels in the brain bringing on relief from vascular headaches. Some aspirin products contain caffeine allowing the patient to get a big of quick relief before the pain reliever takes effect. But is caffeine bad for us? According to some studies, the effects of caffeine are minor when compared with narcotics, but the withdrawals can be uncomfortable no matter what your drug of choice. Like my husband, someone addicted to caffeine can suffer withdrawal headaches. Once the caffeine wears off, feelings of fatigue creep in and even depression can be present. Caffeine has also been shown to cause anxiety and nervousness in some people. Here are a few caffeine statistics from various sources: * An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains 100 mg. of caffeine. If you buy the tall mugs from coffee shops, you could be consuming 12 to 20 ounces. Do the math. * An eight-ounce cup of black tea is about 50 mgs. caffeine. * A typical 12-ounce cola drink contains about 40 t0 50 mgs. caffeine. * Energy drinks contain upwards of 70 to 80 mgs. per 12 ounces. * Milk chocolate contains 6 mgs. per ounce.

Amazingly enough, with all of these negatives, some health benefits have emerged with the consumption of that daily cup or three. According to a study from Harvard University, coffee drinkers sometimes have lower incidences of diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, gallstones and Parkinson’s disease. That’s not to say you should be downing massive quantities of coffee to avoid these health problems, of course. The negatives would likely outweigh the positives in those cases. And the jury is still out on whether it the health properties of the coffee bean itself that provides these benefits rather than the caffeine. Bottom line: if you think you’re getting too much caffeine, cut back gradually and you might just feel better for it.

Along with my morning tea today I had oats for breakfast complete with banana, walnuts and cinnamon. For lunch I made an egg salad sandwich with two hard cooked eggs and a tablespoon of salad dressing. And yes, I had a diet pepsi along with it.

 
 

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