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Truth About Caffeine

One supplement which is used and abused by many of us. Caffeine is ubiquitous stimulant found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and various other foods and drinks. It can cause nutrient depletion of important nutrients, like vitamin B6, and interfere with nutrient absorption of essential minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins (Escott-Stump, 2008). Most forms of caffeine can boost your mind and mental and physical performance.Many of us use regularly and few consume  around 500 milligrams (equivalent to 5 cups of coffee) or more each day.


Truth About Caffeine


What does Caffeine really do?


Caffeine enters the bloodstream and within a short 40 to 60 minutes reaches all organs of the body, causing physiological changes that last for up to 6 hours. Due to its “fat loving” chemical structure, caffeine easily crosses the Blood-brain barrier. The brain’s security system aimed to prevent water-soluble toxins from damaging the all-important organ. To a nerve cell, caffeine resembles adenosine, a molecule that slows down nervous system, dilates blood vessels, and allows sleep. The nerve’s adenosine receptor cannot tell the difference between two molecules, so caffeine and adenosine compete for receptor binding. When caffeine wins, the calming effect of adenosine are negated and an exaggerated stress response takes place. The cell activity speeds up, the brain’s blood vessels constrict, and neuron firing increases. The pituitary gland responds to the increased activity by sending a message to the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. Pupils and breathing tubes dilate. Heart rate increases. Blood flow shunts to the muscles. Blood pressure rises. Muscles contract. The liver releases extra glucose into the bloodstream to fuel the adrenaline, thus sparing muscle glycogen stores. Caffeine also has diuretic effect, which leads to an increase in urination. As a result, water-soluble vitamins, such as B-vitamins and vitamin C can be depleted due to fluid loss.Research also demonstrated that the higher the level of caffeine, the more it interfered with vitamin D absorption. The study suggested that caffeine did this by reducing the expression of vitamin D receptors on osteoblasts in the body.



Not so effective after all


Some people may also consider consuming caffeine to boost weigh loss. The stimulant is a common ingredient in many weight-loss supplements. Caffeine may contribute to weight loss by suppressing appetite, increasing water loss(as it diuretic), and potentially increasing resting metabolic rate. However, any effect on weight loss is likely to be small and risks of caffeine over consumption and dependence that could develop are greater than a small weight-loss benefit. 


Lets take an example: a person attributes increased performance and some weight loss to caffeine but despite the same continued caffeine intake, the perceived benefits decrease. Having developed a tolerance to caffeine, the person consumes more caffeine. While the extra caffeine binds up the newly created adenosine receptors, the brain gets back to work increasing receptor production. As dose continues to increase risk of severe consequences multiply. On top of tolerance, chronic caffeine use contributes to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, decreased bone density in women, jittery nerves, sleeplessness(Doheny, 2006), and for many, the dreaded withdrawal symptoms after a brief respite from stimulant including headache, irritability, increased fatigue, drowsiness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentration and decreased energy and activity levels (Keisler & Armsey, 2006).



How to get rid of caffeine addiction?


The good news is that we can moderate caffeine consumption to optimize its advantages and at the same time avert caffeine dependence. The following five step two week tape offers one way to get started:

1. Choose a two week period of low stress. The taper may cause some tiredness. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. 

2. Tally daily caffeine intake. Pay special attention on food labels because many of your sodas contain caffeine too.



3. Substitute a caffeine free beverage  for one caffeinated beverage each day. Maintain this level of caffeine use for the week. The next week decrease by one more. Each week, decrease the total number of caffeinated beverages per day until total caffeine intake is less than 100 mg per day.

4. Maintain a level of caffeine use less than or equal to 100 mg per day, the level below which dependency is unlikely to occur (Shapiro, 2007). Research suggests withdrawal occurs around three days after quitting for new users and as quickly as 12 hours in regular users (Keisler & Armsey, 2006). The onset of a caffeine headache indicates the baseline dose is not low enough. Continue the taper to a 25 mg maintenance dose (Lu et al.,2007) or endure the headache and within a few days the caffeine habit will be history. 

5. Get out of crisis mode. Not every day, deadline, or life event should trigger the need for a caffeine boost to make it through. Choose wisely and carefully so that when the caffeine boost feels essential, the brain and body are prepared to give the maximal effect at the lowest possible dose. 



Summary


An individual’s health is partially determined by the nutrients he or she chooses to consume. While each nutrient plays a specific role in body’s well-being, it is the balance among these different nutrients that allows the body to function optimally. So, a balanced and varied diet is the foundation for good health. Choose what you consume wisely and keep changing your diet plan for optimal results .



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