What’s the Buzz on Caffeine?

June 19th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There’s plenty to know about food and nutrition, don’t you think? There’re the macronutrients of protein, fat and carbohydrates. There’s the myriad of vitamins and minerals from A to Z with everything in between. Then there’s the other required stuff like water and fibre. Now there’re other elements that have snuck past the radar into our everyday diets. The spotlight here is on caffeine.

Years ago adults starting the day with a cuppa joe was an innocent way to jumpstart the day. Caffeine was also found in tea, colas and chocolate in amounts that nary raised an eyebrow. Fast forward to the present day. Who would have ever dreamt that this habit would have such a tidal wave into the social fabric of the many members of the family from teenage, upward? Good grief. Caffeine’s addictive jolt has made it into a variety of popular drinks, some marketed to kids. This has left some of the health watch-dogs the need to take a closer look at this issue.

The marketing line for caffeine-laden Red Bull is “it gives you wings”…. For starters, I’ll tell you what it gives you – it gives you insomnia, that’s what it gives you. I’m sure there are many sleepless nights spent in the bedrooms of our kids and adults from sea to sea who drink the likes of this, plus cups of coffee, bottles of cola and the like. I’m feeling palpitations just writing this piece.

Ok so here are some numbers of some drinks that typically contain caffeine:

colas 250 mL                                                26-35 mg/serving
chai latte 250 mL                                               13 mg/serving
Starbuck’s Iced Frap 250 mL                         60 mg/serving
Redbull 250 mL                                                 80 mg/serving
Starbuck’s Grande coffee 500 mL              330 mg/serving

I used to guzzle a few grandes back per day while paying no mind to it. Then I’d have a social cup in the afternoon as a treat. Sometimes when out for dinner, I would end the meal with a dopio espresso. As I’ve aged it’s gotten the better of me keeping me up at night and giving me heart palpitations until I realized I was overdoing it. That’s when I weaned myself down and now limit my consumption to the morning. I drink water from there.

I have a friend of mine who’s a pediatrician who tells me he is finding more and more kids coming into his office reporting sleep problems. When probed further he finds out they’re guzzling this stuff, keeping them from falling asleep. Sadly, some have resorted to talking meds to help them sleep. When I hear this I wish we can hit the proverbial “reset” button and stop the madness because this sort of cycle is really getting out of hand.

Now it’s important to point out that caffeine is NOT a required element in our diet whatsoever. It is highly addictive and can create palpitations or sleep disturbances for some, like it did for me. There is no recommended level of consumption set for caffeine for kids. It is an addictive substance that has become more prevalent in our food system. And yes, beverages are food….

It’s a good idea to take a closer look at how much of this stuff the whole family is consuming, then work on weaning it down for the adults and out for kids altogether. The amount is noted on product labels’ Nutrition Facts Panel and definitely worth taking a closer look at. Cutting this out cold turkey in 1 fell swoop can result in headaches, sweats and more, so weaning down and out is the wiser way to go.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of bevy’s that come in a caffeine free variety. These may help during the transition downward. This is one addictive element that can certainly sneak into your daily repertoire and when taken at higher levels can create problems you might not have realized. Now you know!! If you’re looking for a buzz, rewind the US Open golf and watch Rory McIroy win. Now that’ll give you a buzz!!

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