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Caffeine, The world’s favorite picker-upper

Posted by Walt Thompson on Sunday, 11 August 2013 in Health Smart 0 Comments

Caffeine, The world’s favorite picker-upper

Caffeine is the world’s most commonly used mood altering drug. Many studies have shown that caffeine sharpens one’s performance, memory, attention span, etc. While this is true, recent research suggests that for regular users, the caffeine boost simply represents a reversal of caffeine withdrawal. In other words, as the effect of caffeine wears off, both mental sharpness and mood decline. Of course, this requires another caffeine boost, and before long, one is hooked—enslaved by a drug that has little if any positive long term benefit to either happiness or health.

While not every caffeine user will recognize the apparently minor effects of withdrawal noted above, nearly every regular user is aware of certain unpleasant effects when they cannot obtain their usual “fix.” But headaches are only one of the many health problems accompanying the use of caffeine, in whatever form it is “enjoyed.” The truth is, caffeine is not as free of adverse effects as has often been claimed.

The following scientifically verified effects represent just a few of these. High blood pressure, rapid pulse, arrhythmias (Irregular heart rhythm’s), dehydration, elevated levels of cholesterol and lipids contributing to heart attacks, cancer, anxiety and panic attacks and other psychiatric illnesses, sleep disturbances, allergies, digestive problems, and, yes, accidents. In fact, every organ system of the body is subject to the adverse effects of caffeine. Additionally, Caffeine is almost always accompanied by other similarly unhealthful chemicals such as sugar, alcohol, etc.

Combining energy drinks with substances of abuse raises the risk for serious, even life-threatening, injury and the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, road rage, etc.

It is true that the harmful effects are somewhat dose dependent. Certainly the person drinking a cup of tea or coffee per day is not going to realize the same degree of adverse effects as is the one drinking the popular “energy drinks” like Monster, Red Bull, Rock star, or one of more than 500 others on the rapidly expanding market worldwide.

The caffeine content of various beverages ranges from 0 to more than 700 mg/fluid ounce. 7 Up and A&W root beer are free of caffeine, but most sodas and colas contain about same amount as tea and coffee; On average, tea, coffee, sodas, etc. contain from 50 – 150 mg. caffeine / 8 ounce cup, depending upon many variables, even within the same brand, source of beans or leaves, method of preparation, etc.

Caffeine is present in numerous plants. Coffee, tea, cola nut, cocao pod, guarana, and maté are the ones most widely consumed.

“Energy drinks” are all the rage today. Caffeine content may be many times higher than the usual cup of coffee, tea, or cola. In fact, they may contain up to 700 mg of caffeine per once, or more. In addition to caffeine, many of these drinks contain a multitude of ingredients thus permitting them to be classified as dietary supplements and subject to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act rather than the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which restricts caffeine to 72 mg per 12 fluid ounce serving.

In addition to high fructose corn syrup and various sugars, additives include such things as taurine, L-carnitine, creatine, inositol and DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) (an amphetamine-like compound) as well as a number of herbs; ginseng, and milk thistle and others.

Unfortunately, promotional advertising often focuses upon young people and significant amounts of caffeine are now consumed by up to 50% of children, adolescents and young adults.

Not only may these additives increase the physical energy, but may also be major contributors to the most dangerous health risks accompanying them, and are, in fact, responsible for rapidly increasing emergency department visits. When used in combination with alcohol of other drugs the risks are compounded.

The bottom line is this. The risk is high for all caffeine containing substances, a risk that is accompanied by very few possible benefits. They have no place in the life of one desirous of presenting one’s best to the cause of benefiting humanity or of glorifying the God who created and redeemed us at such high cost.

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