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CAFFEINE

THOUGHTS
FOOD AND DRINK

CAFFEINE

Postby zappdog » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:59 pm

COFFEE

AM I ADDICTED ? YEP. . . . THANK GOODNESS

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Re: CAFFEINE

Postby zappdog » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:08 pm

CAFFEINE
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Re: CAFFEINE

Postby zappdog » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:32 pm

What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is known medically as trimethylxanthine, and the chemical formula is C8H10N4O2 . When isolated in pure form, caffeine is a white crystalline powder that tastes very bitter. The chief source of pure caffeine is the end result of the process of decaffeinating coffee and tea.

Medically, caffeine is useful as a cardiac stimulant and also as a mild diuretic - it increases urine production. Recreationally, it is used to provide a "boost of energy" or a feeling of heightened alertness. College students often use it to stay awake while cramming for finals and drivers use it to push through to their destination. Many people feel as though they "cannot function" in the morning without a cup of coffee to provide caffeine and the boost it gives them.

It's important to know that caffeine is an addictive drug. Among its many actions, it operates using the same mechanisms that amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin use to stimulate the brain. Relatively speaking, caffeine's effects are milder than amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, but it is manipulating the same channels in the brain, and that is one of the things that gives caffeine its addictive qualities. If you feel like you cannot function without it and must consume it every day, then you may be addicted to caffeine.

Caffeine Intoxication and Overdose
Anyone who’s ever had too much coffee can tell you that caffeine intoxication is no fun. Medical experts agree that ingesting more than 250 mg of caffeine in a short period of time can cause restlessness, insomnia, muscle twitching, gastrointestinal disturbance, cardiac arrhythmia and a host of other problems. These symptoms can cause significant social and occupational disturbances [source: Johns Hopkins University -- Bayview Medical Center]. Caffeine intoxication is rarely fatal, although 5,000-10,000 mg of caffeine can actually kill you [source: Dance]. Fortunately, most people won’t ever ingest this much caffeine accidentally - it would take between 30 and 60 cups of coffee in one morning.

Caffeine in the Diet
Caffeine occurs naturally in many plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves and cocoa beans, so it’s found in a wide range of food products. What most people don’t know is that caffeine is added artificially to many others, including a variety of beverages like colas. Coca-Cola was originally made with kola nut extract, which naturally contains caffeine and was mostly responsible for the flavor and buzz that early fans of the beverage craved (although the cocaine contained in early formulas of the drink certainly helped increase that craving). Now, colas are made with artificial flavors, and caffeine from another source is added in the production process. Energy drinks are a new trend in caffeinated beverages. They contain an abundance of sugar and other chemicals that help provide that sought-after boost. Caffeine can also be found in many weight loss pills and some over-the-counter pain medicines.

Here are the most common sources of caffeine for Americans:
* Typical drip-brewed coffee contains about 100 mg per 8-ounce cup [source: MayoClinic.com]. If you are buying your coffee at Starbucks or a convenience store or drinking it at home or the office out of a mug, you are consuming it in 12-, 14- or 20-ounce containers. You can calculate the number of milligrams based on your normal serving size.
* Typical brewed black tea contains 50 mg per 8-ounce cup.
* Typical caffeinated sodas (Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc.) contain 40-50 mg per 12-ounce can.
* Super-caffeinated colas like Jolt contain 70 mg per 12-ounce can [source: Center for Science in the Public Interest].
* Typical milk chocolate contains 6 mg per ounce [source: March of Dimes].
* Maximum Strength Anacin contains 32 mg per tablet. NoDoz and Vivarin each contain 200 mg per tablet. Extra Strength Excedrin contains 65 mg per tablet [source: Center for Science in the Public Interest].
* Energy drinks like Red Bull (8.3 oz-sized can) and Rock Star (8.4 oz-sized can) contain about 80 mg per can.

By looking at these numbers and by knowing how widespread coffee, chocolate, tea, cola and energy drinks are in our society, you can see why half of all American adults consume more than 300 mg of caffeine per day. Two mugs of coffee or a mug of coffee and a couple of Cokes during the day are all you need to get there. If you sit down and calculate your caffeine consumption during a typical day, you may be surprised. Many people consume a gram or more every single day and don't even realize it.

Health Benefits of Caffeine
Caffeine has long been on the list of don'ts for people hoping to lead a healthy lifestyle. Doctors pointed to caffeine's negative effects on the nervous system and how it can increase anxiety, stress and food cravings, in addition to inhibiting sleep. Recent studies, however, have shown that coffee and caffeine may actually have some significant medical benefits.

There have been more than 19,000 studies on caffeine and coffee in the past 30 years in an attempt to determine its exact effects on the human body. One of the most thorough and exhaustive studies was done by Harvard University, in which they examined 126,000 people over an 18-year period. The findings indicate that people who drink one to three cups of coffee a day are up to 9 percent less likely to contract diabetes. What's interesting is what happened to those who drank six or more cups of coffee per day - men slashed their chances of contracting diabetes by 54 percent, and women by 30 percent [source: Kirchheimer].

Other studies have shown similar results in many facets of human health:

* Regular coffee drinkers are 80 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease.
* Two cups a day gives you 20 percent less risk of colon cancer.
* Two cups a day causes an 80 percent drop in cirrhosis.
* Two cups a day prevents gallstone development by 50 percent.
* It has also shown to be beneficial in asthma, stopping headaches, boosting mood and even preventing cavities [source: Kirchheimer].

Some of these findings may have something to do with other healthful properties of the coffee bean, but most can be directly linked to caffeine. Researchers are even developing drugs for Parkinson's disease containing caffeine derivatives.

Another interesting study by The Byrd Alzheimer's Institute in Tampa, Fla., showed that lab mice injected with caffeine were protected against developing Alzheimer's disease. The injections even helped reduce symptoms in those that had the disease. The findings lead doctors to believe that up to five cups of coffee a day could have the same positive effect on humans [source: Arendash].

Rutgers University carried out a study in July 2007 that showed regular exercise combined with daily doses of caffeine can increase the destruction of pre-cancerous skin cells in mice. Once again, the findings have not yet been tested on humans, but the indication is that it will have similar effects [source: Lu].

One thing is clear -- despite the recent findings, most doctors still recommend moderation in regard to caffeine intake. While these recent studies give hope to those who are hooked on their morning cup of joe, there is still a long way to go to determine the long- term effects of caffeine use.
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