Caffeine Consumption

There's nothing quite like the first swallow of hot coffee in the morning. You just savor the smell and the taste, allowing it to go down slowly. Even though the sensations are great, probably most women have a cup of something caffeinated first thing in the morning because it "wakes them up" and makes them more alert.

Everything in Moderation

The coffee debate continues to rage with evidence on both sides of the equation providing mixed results. Some research shows coffee can be very beneficial and that caffeine supports wellness, but some sources say that just isn't so. Like everything in life, moderation is the key and there's no pat answer. For most women, one 8 to 10 ounce cup of coffee a day is fine, but it is funny how the habit can sneak up on you and suddenly you're drinking four, five, six or more cups of coffee a day. When insomnia, fatigue or stress come galloping in and women become concerned about their caffeine intake, then how much is too much should be assessed.

The Good News Is ... 

On the positive side, research shows that the idea that caffeine perks you up is grounded in fact.

· Brain studies show there is a reduction in sleepiness and an increase in alertness when caffeine is ingested.

· It can make you feel very focused and awake, especially when there is a measure of sleep deprivation.

· It improves response time and accuracy as well as productivity and task performance.

· It even puts you in a good mood - which may be why some people get hooked on it.

· There is even research to show that moderate caffeine consumption may actually improve both short and long term memory.

· Beside all of these things, caffeine in a cup of something hot, is comforting and a ritual that can be shared.

... And the Bad News Is ...

On the other side of the street we have the negative effects of caffeine on individuals. Excessive use, as with anything used excessively, may lead to problems, especially as women grow older.

· The drop off in energy that comes after the initial perky feelings can leave you feeling more tired and fatigued than before the first cup. That causes you to reach for another cuppa, and the rebound effect has an impact on your circadian rhythm, disturbing normal sleep patterns.

· Caffeine blocks adenosine reception in the brain. Adenosine has a sedative effect upon you and the brain releases it over the course of the day in preparation for sleep at night.

· When caffeine intake is upped, then the receptors are blocked and you're jerked back into alertness, your heart rate speeds up and your poor brain, which just wants to sleep, is forced onward.

That famous buzz we get from caffeine is compliments of the adrenal glands which are forced to pump out more stress hormones. The adrenals become overworked and the daily rhythmic allotment of cortisol is skewed resulting in fatigue and insomnia. Add a heightened stress response to the mix and we end up exaggerating events from the day that may have been stressful. Our blood pressure rises and anxiety sets in. Not a very pretty picture, is it?

The facts of the matter are that so much of the way you handle caffeine is dependent upon your particular genetic makeup. There are research findings to support both sides of the story. However, there are some studies that are very solid and they are what most of the advice from medical practitioners are based upon.

If You Have to Have a Cuppa Joe, Try These Suggestions

We do have some suggestions if you love to have a cup of coffee but are feeling a bit conflicted.

· The darker the roast, the lower the caffeine content.

· Have a wonderful, low-glycemic snack with your cup of coffee.

· Choose the best quality you can afford, organic if at all possible.

· If you drink milk in your coffee, make sure it's organic as well.

· Don't drink your coffee mindlessly. Make it a comfortable event where you can savor the taste and enjoy the moment.


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