Text: Justinne Lou Go, RND
If you didn’t know, March is Caffeine Awareness Month. Although we can get caffeine from several beverages and food sources — tea, energy drinks, sodas, and even chocolate — let’s focus more on coffee since it contains the highest amount of caffeine among other beverage choices available.
The coffee industry and coffee shop business do not seem to be slowing down anytime. Trends in the art of coffee making and appreciation continue to pop up and progress is one of the top three beverages most consumed in the world next to water and tea. Moreover, coffee is now being enjoyed for its flavor aside from one’s need for an energy boost.
If coffee is part of your daily habit, you might want to check on the amount of headaches, and anxiety. Take note, though, that the actual caffeine content of a cup of coffee or tea may vary depending on factors such as origin, processing and preparation method, and brewing time.
For decades, caffeine was thought to increase one’s risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease. However, studies on this relationship have been inconclusive until extensive review on available studies have now shown that coffee actually has protective effects on one’s cardiovascular health at a certain level and frequency of consumption. This can be attributed to the phytochemicals discovered in coffee beans, specifically chlorogenic acid, gallic acid and caffeic acid. So, it is not the caffeine per se that promotes heart health, but it is the unique antioxidant components in coffee beans that do.
The recommendation from studies suggest that regular, moderate consumption of coffee (>3-4 cups or not more than 400 mg of caffeine per day) promote heart health as compared to non-drinkers, especially for women who have low compliance to a healthy diet. For a general reference, tea usually has half the caffeine content of coffee, which is more or less 40 mg. So, coffee is usually at 80 mg caffeine per cup.
Research has also shown that there is gene-diet interaction wherein part of it includes the varying metabolism rates of caffeine from one individual to another. This means that there are people with genes who tend to metabolize caffeine either faster or slower than others, often causing the symptoms mentioned earlier (headaches, anxiety, etc.). Also, people who possess genes that predispose them to have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes may be affected by high caffeine consumption.
Caffeine happens to be the only drug naturally present in food, which is likely why soft drink companies add it to their products. As with any addictive substance, cutting back or quitting on your caffeine source can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, sleepiness, and lethargy.
For those of us who have made coffee part of our daily lives, I hope we can become more aware of our caffeine consumption and “fix” our intake so we don’t become dependent on coffee for energy. Because we need to channel the right energy source that doesn’t cause energy crashes in the middle of the day and affect the efficiency of our adrenal glands in the long-term. Of course, wean off your high caffeine intake by gradually switching to tea, so you will hopefully experience less or none of the withdrawal symptoms.