Quick Recipes and Easy

The Buzz on Caffeine

If you’re worried about the health implication of too much caffeine in your system, you’ll be glad to know there are many other hot and tasty beverages on the market for you to try.

Are you relying on copious cups of coffee to get you through the day? If so, what you’re using as a crutch has probably become part of the problem. Because too much caffeine far from giving your energy levels a boost, can make you feel sluggish and jittery.

Expert opinion differs on what exactly constitutes too much caffeine. And of course it depends on whether you’re having tea or coffee – not to mention which type it is.
Basically, if you’re having more than three caffeine drinks a day you’re probably overdoing it.

Caffeine aids the dehydration process – causing headaches and constipation amongst other weaknesses. But before you sigh and reach for another guilty mug of coffee, you’ll be glad to hear that there are plenty of healthy options and alternatives with loads of exciting flavours.
As a nation we don’t half like a cup of tea. On average, we consume three cups of regular tea each and every day. Herbal teas are the healthier option and research has shown that the antioxidants and many hydrating properties found in fruit and green teas mean that you need never feel guilty about brewing another pot.

What is caffeine?
Caffeine is an alkaloid found naturally in coffee beans and tea leaves. Very often it is added to fizzy drinks, such as cola, and energy drinks. Smaller amounts are found in chocolate, hot chocolate and even some painkillers.
Coffee, unsurprisingly, contains the highest caffeine levels, closely followed by tea and cola. But the amount of caffeine in specific drinks varies greatly, depending on the type and the way it’s made. The highest caffeine count comes from filter coffee as coffee beans have the highest caffeine concentration and they soak in the water for longer, so more caffeine leaches out.
As a rule, the stronger the coffee, the more caffeine it contains. An espresso, for example, can have up to 300mg caffeine, whilst instant coffee powder may contain only 75mg. Tea typically has around 50mg a cup, with a can of cola around 45mg. For the rest of the general population of healthy adults, the long-standing advice still applies – try to consume no more than 400 to 450mg of caffeine per day. It’s best to do most things in moderation.

What does it do?
Caffeine is a heart and brain stimulant. It interferes with your body’s release of a natural chemical called adenosine – a sedative which slows the body down, promoting sleepiness and dilating blood vessels.
Caffeine also overrides hormonal reaction. It fools the body into constantly firing on all cylinders, by constricting blood vessels and triggering the release of adrenaline.
This speeds up your heartbeat, promoting a feeling of excitement in preparation for your body’s natural ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response.
This works well for the occasional emergency, but longer-term use undermines the body’s ability to recuperate, which is when it replenishes nutrients, repairs tissues and restores brain function.

If you overdose on caffeine, you’re going to feel jittery.

Too much caffeine can…
Over stimulate your central nervous system, leading to an increas in heart rate and blood pressure.
Affect energy levels. Following an initial energy boost, your energy plummets because of resulting low blood-sugar levels.
Decrease bone density, putting you at risk of the bone-wasting disease, osteoporosis.
Inhibit absorption of essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron. Taking a vitamin supplement with a cup of coffee or tea, for example, can render it useless.
Irritate the lining of your stomach and oesophagus, causing indigestion, ulcers and digestive problems.
Aggravate PMS and menopause symptoms, such as fluid retention, breast tenderness and hot flushes.
Cause headaches, including the triggering of migraines in some sufferers. It can also cause insomnia.

Instead of reaching for caffeine…
Stretch it out. A excellent stretch (and a yawn) will boost blood flow to your muscles. The added oxygen will give muscles instant energy.
Scrub up. Use a body brush in the shower to invigorate you and wake up your system so it’s ready to face the day. Also try dry brushing with a natural-bristle brush. Brush all over your body (except your breasts) in a circular motion towards your heart. Go simple around your stomach.
Squeeze some lemon. A cup of hot water and lemon stimulates the digestive juices and kick-starts your metabolism.
Get oiled up. Sniff some aromatherapy oil – grapefruit, lemon, orange, rosemary and peppermint oils are energising and uplifting.

Caffeine is a drug stimulant. When you have too much of it, your blood pressure rises, leaving you feeling nervous and restless. The paradox is that although coffee is a stimulant, it overworks the adrenal glands, tiring out both them and you. Moreover, it can stimulate skin-ageing. It also reduces the absorption of iron and zinc by up to 50% which can compromise your immune system. Wean yourself off coffee slowly. Instead, start drinking a rotation of herbal teas, such as peppermint, chamomile, dandelion, nettle and red clover, or simply some freshly squeezed fruit juice in hot water.

goodfoodguide.org.uk/ Excellent Food and Healthy Eating

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