- Food and Cooking
Caffeine - The Pros and a Few of the Cons
Do You Really Know?
Caffeine is a part of everyone’s lives. We drink it and eat and even when we don’t realize it. In fact it is so much a part of our lives that we ignore it and take it for granted. You drink it daily. You can’t get enough of it. But do you really know what caffeine is?
Where Or Where Does It Come From?
The bitter taste in coffee and tea comes from the caffeine. It is one of the most common and legal stimulants that you can get in almost anything. In fact 9 out of 10 people take in caffeine on a regular basis. It is found naturally in coffee plants, tea plants, cocoa, and guarana (over 50 plants to be more accurate). Nature uses this chemical in plants to act as a pesticide. In fact some insects will die from eating what we consume each day.
Caffeine was first discovered, or nailed down, by a German chemist named Friedrick Runge in 1819. It was originally made popular in Asia and the Middle East as far back as the Stone Age where humans were known to chew on the leaves and bark of caffeine producing plants. The art of drinking it as coffee began as early as the ninth century in Egypt and spread throughout the Middle East . It quickly became popular. The first coffee cafés have been discovered as early as 1600’s in the Mediterranean area. Starbucks was not the first, I’m sorry! Since these beginnings, coffee production has spread across the Asian and African continents and taken a firm hold in the Americas. There are hundreds of varieties today to choose from.
Tea also contains caffeine and is almost as popular as coffee, maybe even more so in other parts of the world. Tea began its life in China and Asia quickly fell in love with tea. It has been used as medicine and as part of religious ceremonies. Today, you can find tea produced in Asia and parts of the Middle East.
When you mention consuming caffeine, coffee is the first item thought of. But in reality tea has more caffeine in it. That is, until it is brewed which dilutes the caffeine and then allows coffee to race to first place for percentage of caffeine consumed. The amount of caffeine in each coffee bean varies. The darker the bean, the more caffeine it contains. You also can get your caffeine on a regular basis through sodas and energy drinks which have sky-rocketed in sales over the last few years. More and more teens and young adults are drinking them. Therefore, more and more young people are absorbing this stimulant.
Oh, Those Side Effects
If so many of us take this in, what harm could it possibly do? First of all, let us note that anything taken in excess can be dangerous (that includes vitamin C). But caffeine can have a much more direct impact with much less consumption.
Too much caffeine can cause
- Stomach Issues
Though in fact many people seek out the drug for these side effects. What college student has not filled themselves with coffee, cola, or energy drink to stay awake to study for the big exams? When we need to get through the day or night without falling asleep, what do we reach for? CAFFEINE. It stimulates the brain and the entire central nervous system and research has shown that does improve memory temporarily. (This is not to be used as a reason to consume unlimited amounts of java.)
But as previously noted, too much can be harmful. In an “overdose” you can begin to experience chronic depression, hallucinations, and manic mood swings. During a pregnancy, too much caffeine can cause birth defects. Many take this mean that any caffeine in the system will harm the unborn child, but no research has shown that. Only excessive amounts (say 4 pots of coffee a day) regularly will hurt the child.
How Do You Get Your Caffeine Each Day?
Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks have become a regular part of our daily lives. Many of us crave it before even attempting to speak to another human being. We cannot go through our day with a cup in our hands. In fact, caffeine might be the most addicted to drug in the world.
Is it justified to stop consuming caffeine? Is the fact that it is made naturally and there for the taking make it alright to consume? Or should we look beyond the temptation of getting an energy push naturally and seek other methods? Too many questions. I’ll have to have a cup of joe and let you know about that later.