Caffeine: What's in Your Drink?
Although the exact origin of caffeine is unknown, by the 15th century coffee was being grown in Arabia. In the 16th century, it spread to Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. In the mid-1600's, coffee was brought to New Amsterdam, later called New York by the British. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent.
Some people reacted to this new beverage with suspicion or fear, calling it the “bitter invention of Satan.” The local clergy condemned coffee when it came to Venice in 1615. The controversy was so great that Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. He decided to taste the beverage for himself before making a decision, and found the drink so satisfying that he gave it papal approval.
Caffeine is a bitter substance that is found naturally in more than 60 plants, including
· Coffee beans
· Tea leaves
· Kola nuts, which are used to flavor soft drink colas
· Cacao pods, which are used to make chocolate products
· Yerba mate, commonly found in energy drinks
· Guarana, commonly found in energy drinks
There is also synthetic (man-made) caffeine, which is added to some medicines, foods, and drinks, such as energy drinks and ‘energy-boosting’ shots.
Caffeine’s effects on the body:
· Stimulates your central nervous system, making you feel more awake, and gives you a boost of energy
· Diuretic, stimulates the kidneys to produce more urine
· Increases the release of acid in your stomach, causing an upset stomach or heartburn
· May interfere with the absorption of calcium
· Increases your blood pressure
Within one hour of eating or drinking caffeine, it reaches its peak level in your blood. You may continue to feel the effects of caffeine for four to six hours.
Caffeine’s side effects:
· Restless and shaky
· Rapid or abnormal heart rhythm
· Muscle tremors
· Dependency, so you need to take more of it to get the same results
· The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can vary. And the labeling does not always give you the actual amount of caffeine in them
· May also contain sugars, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. While companies claim these drinks can increase alertness and improve physical and mental performance, there is limited data proving this
· Consumption is most common among those aged 11-35 years. This is the target population for marketing by energy drink companies
Who should limit or avoid caffeine? Check with your healthcare provider if the following applies to you:
· Pregnant, caffeine passes through the placenta to your baby
· Breastfeeding, caffeine can be found in breast milk
· Sleep disorders
· GERD, ulcers, or heartburn
· Fast or irregular heart rhythms
· High blood pressure
· The American Academy of Pediatrics maintains that stimulant-containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents
Withdrawal symptoms after suddenly stopping caffeine usually go away after 2 days:
· Difficulty concentrating
Up to 400 mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That's roughly the amount in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola, or two ‘energy shot’ drinks. Keep in mind that the actual caffeine content in beverages varies widely, especially among energy drinks.