Friend or Foe: Caffeine

Caffeine is a regular morning companion for many of us. (I’m guilty!) Sure it gets you going— it whispers in your ear that you’re ready to face the day or gives you a jolt during the midday slump. But there are some things that you might not know that could turn this friend into foe.

“Decaf” isn’t the same thing as “caffeine free.”

Just like “no added sugar” isn’t the same thing as “sugar free,” the term decaf is definitely misleading. A Journal of Analytical Toxicology report examined 9 different types of decaffeinated coffee and found that all but one contained caffeine. While it was much less— 8.6mg to 13.9mg as opposed to the regular 95mg to 200mg of caffeine— it was still present.

If you’re a “1 cup” drinker, the caffeine cut in decaf can be significant. (Gold star!) But if you’re a “I’ll have a few cups because it’s decaf” drinker, be aware that those few cups will add up…and you may as well have had a regular cup anyway.

Something else to keep in mind is that although it has a quick response time, caffeine lingers long after that initial sip. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it takes caffeine 30 to 60 minutes to reach peak level in your blood. While the body typically eliminates half of the dose in 3 to 5 hours, the remaining bit can linger in your system for 8 to 14 hours!

However, the timeline and effects on each of us will vary. (And the variation can be significant.) According to New York Magazine, the way your body processes caffeine can be based on gender, race, and other health habits (ie smoking, medications).

Natural Alternatives for Energy

To get that energy boost, there are so many other options offered that we love – Thanks Mother Nature!

  • Sunlight! Go for a walk and soak in some vitamin D to elevate energy and mood. The standing up and moving around will also do the trick.- Fruit! The natural sugars will give you the jolt you need…not to mention the vitamins, fiber, potassium— and more of the good stuff!
  • Oxygen! Breathing deeply delivers more oxygen to your brain, boosting concentration and zest.
  • Water! The very best option for hydration is also an energy booster. Dehydration means fatigue, brain fog, impaired short-term memory, dizziness, and drowsiness.
  • Vitamins! There are revitalizing nutrients in nature specifically to restore your body’s main energy source— the adrenal glands. Pretty cool how that works, huh?

Remember, caffeine is a stimulant. A drug who’s popularity is growing exponentially as it gets added to more and more items in the food industry. Moderation is the widely accepted rule of thumb when we talk consumption, but when there are natural options out there with none of the negative side effects— what’s the downside of giving them a try?

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