03 April 2009

There has been a huge global increase in the consumption of caffeine. It is found in coffee, tea, cola-based drinks and chocolate.

Caffeine is mildly addictive, making it one of the world's most widely used drugs. Did you know? Filter coffee has the highest caffeine content because the coffee grounds remain in contact with the water for a longer time. A cup of espresso coffee has more caffeine per millilitre than a regular brew.

You should be careful because caffeine can make a number of health problems.
  1. It can prevent your body from absorbing vitamins and minerals.
  2. It can increase the excretion of vitamins and minerals from the body, so you won't get the full benefits of healthy foods.
  3. Caffeine overstimulates the central nervous system, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. It has an impact on the body's energy levels: following the initial energy surge, your levels fall due to the lowering of blood sugar.
  5. It can irritate your stomach, and cause headaches and insomnia.
  6. Caffeine has also been associated with a decrease in bone mineral density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis in women.
There has been much press about the health benefits of tea and coffee. Both drinks contain antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids may protect against illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, but not all studies have shown the same protective effect. Fruit, vegetables and non-caffeinated teas such as green tea are also a source of these antioxidants.

How do I know if I drink too much caffeine?

You should think about reducing your intake if you drink more than four caffeine-based drinks a day. If you have difficulty sleeping at night, don't drink caffeine after 1pm (it takes about 10 hours for caffeine to leave your system).

If you cut out caffeine from your diet entirely, you may suffer from withdrawal headaches. They usually develop after 18 hours and may last for a couple of days. If you take this route, drink plenty of water and eat high-fibre biscuits or a slice of fruity malt cake to help regulate your blood sugar levels.

Well, from now on, you should try more to cut of your caffeine intake. Don’t know how?
  1. Try reducing your intake by half-a-cup a day over a seven-day period.
  2. Make sure you have a substitute drink available such as fruit tea, and drink plenty of water. If you replace caffeine with herbal tea, you'll get the added benefit of extra antioxidants.
  3. Keep going until you are at a level where you have less than five caffeine drinks a week.
  4. Once you have reached this level of consumption it will be easier to take the decision to remove caffeine from your diet altogether.

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