It just so happens caffeine is the second most addictive drug on Earth; right behind Nicotine and just ahead of Heroin. It's really not all that shocking though when 7am rolls around and there is a line hanging out of every coffee house with everyone waiting to get their morning fix.
So down goes the cup of "Joe" and here comes the smile, your eyes dialate, your blood pressure rises and suddenly you feel extremely alert. A few hours pass and you start to fall asleep at your desk so you go ahead and pour another cup. Before you know it your usual one cup a day turns into 3 or 4.... and now Joe is your bestie!
Feel the Chemistry
Caffeine has no nutritional value, it only causes a chemical reaction in the brain that makes you more alert, happier, and helps you stay focused. It does this by blocking adenosine from its receptors, causing your body to produceadrenaline, and increasing dopamine levels in your body.
Adenosine is an action in the brain that makes you feel drowzy by slowing down nerve cell activity and dialating blood vessels to allow more oxygen into organs during sleep. The adrenaline, causes your eyes to dialate, blood pressure rise, blood flow to the stomach slow, tense up your muscles, and release sugar into the blood stream from your liver for more energy. On top of that the dopamine is a neurotransmitter that activates pleasure signals. This could be the reason caffeine is so addictive leading to the beginning of a viscious cycle. Your body starts to build a tolerance against the caffeine and you tend to drink more of it throughout the day. Also, caffeine has a half-life of six hours, meaning if you have a caffeinated drink in the mid-afternoon you will still have caffeine in your system, blocking Adenosine while you try to fall asleep, preventing you from reeping the benefits of deep sleep. Now you are even more tired the following day and you need even more caffeine to get the same buzz. When the adrenaline wears off you are faced with fatigue and depression, bouncing back and forth from jumpy and irritable. I'm sure you can imagine how this is not very healthy for your mind nor your body, especially if you are someone who should be keeping an eye on the blood pressure.
As most things in nature, where there is Yin there is Yang. Research has shown that caffeine does have its benefits. In fact, caffeine has been shown to help prevent the development of Parkinson's disease, colon cancer, cirrhosis, and gallstones.
Moreover, there has also been a connection found between caffeine and the prevention of Alzheimer's disease along with the destruction of precancerous skin cells.
Coffee makes up 75% of the caffeinated drinks americans consume. The rest of our addiction is rounded out with Tea, Soda and Sports Drinks. The question is what should we drink to get our caffeine fix?
Soda is made up of all kinds of good stuff..............NOT!!
Here is the ingredients label off of a bottle of Orange Soda:
INGREDIENTS: CARBONATED WATER, HIGH
FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, NATURAL FLAVOR,
CITRIC ACID, POTASSIUM BENZOATE (A
PRESERVATIVE), FOOD STARCH MODIFIED,
GLYCEROL EXTER OF WOOD ROSIN, YELLOW 6,
BROMINATED SOYBEAN OIL, RED 40.
Now if you can tell me what half of those things are without "Google" then you must already know that none of this is real food.. so drop the soda off the menu, especially the diet ones, beleive me they are even worse!!
Sports Drinks are not much better, check out the ingredients in a red Gatorade:
INGREDIENTS: WATER, LIQUID SUGAR, GLUCOSE-
FRUCTOSE, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL
STRAWBERRY FLAVOUR, SALT, SODIUM CITRATE,
MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, COLOUR.
Again, not much real food in this.. pretty much sugar water. It would be one thing if you are a high performing athlete in need of refueling but most of us are not, and what's even more frustrating is that both Sports Drinks and Soda advertisements are directed to kids!
As for coffee and tea, they both only have one ingredient (as long as you don't use some instant formula or fill it with cream, sugar, or some alternative sweetner),but tea has less caffeine then coffee and claims to have additional health benefits.
In which case, I'd have to say the best source of caffeine would be the TEA!! Drink it in moderation, maybe 3 cups a day, to reep all of the benefits and not over do it! Also, remember not to drink it to late in the day to guarantee a good night rest.
If you are looking for a good place to purchase some loose leaf tea, you should check out"Teavana"! They have really high quality tea and many different choices. I personally recommend there "Gyokuro Imperial Green Tea", it has a great flavor and goes great when mixing with another Tea Blend. Take a look at what they have on their website http://www.teavana.com.
If you really cannot let go of your bestie "Joe", then drink in moderation and drink it in the early portion of the day. Just make sure no matter what your choice, always drink plenty of water (8-12cups a day) to stay hydrated. Hydration is extrememly important for the body to function properly, especially when you are exercising on a regular basis and are recovering in between workouts!
Written by: Timothy Khanoyan