The Caffeine Debate

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I have heard and read a lot of arguments to the benefits and dangers of caffeine. Today, I am going to share with you my opinion as it relates to your fitness and wellness.

The facts about caffeine:

  • It’s a diuretic.
  • It’s a stimulant.
  • It is also known as guaranine when found in guarana, mateine when found in mate, and theine when found in tea; all names are synonyms for the same chemical compound, caffeine
  • It is found in the beans, leaves, and fruit of over 60 plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills insects feeding on the plants.

(Reference: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine)

Majority of coffee drinkers consume it for the pick-me-up. Because it stimulates the central nervous system, it can assist with mental alertness. However, consuming more than one cup per day comes with some health risks: elevated blood pressure (although temporary, repeated elevations adds to daily stress levels which can cause stress-related illness), boost in blood sugar levels which causes a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, demineralization of bones in women (which can lead to osteoporosis), and insomnia (which, too, adds to stress levels which cause stress-related illness).

As it relates to training effects. Some endurance athletes may use it because they feel it enhances their performance. Physicians don’t condone it (it hasn’t been substantiated-7% greater output in some endurance athletes, but ineffective for short-distance/duration, high power activities) and it is banned by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Association). If one were to use it however, in order for it to be effective, they would have to cease its use for 3 days prior to the event. (Reference-www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/health_psychology/caffeine_sports.htm)

I, however, avoid caffeine consumption as much as possible. The most obvious physical reason for my aversion is my sensitivity to caffeine’s stimulating effects. It leaves me visibly jittery and uncomfortable. The other reason is because I participant in intense physically activity several times per week, which leaves my muscles inflamed. This inflammation may or may not result in me feeling muscle soreness, but fatigue is usually present. Research has alluded to caffeine perpetuating and, sometimes, worsening inflammation that is present in our organs. (Keep your eyes open for a follow-up blog post that discusses how to help alleviate soreness and inflammation.) (Reference: www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2001/inflammation.htm)

I know many of you who are on differing sides of the caffeine debate. I’m on the side of “usually no.” To help with my mental sharpness, I choose to eat a healthy diet filled with fresh greens and exercise regularly. And of course, I’m not opposed to taking 15 minute snooze.


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Christine Kwok Has Written 75 Articles For Us!

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