Monday, July 11, 2005

The Quest for Energy: Caffeine

There's always some sort of food fad going around about foods that lift your energy, make you less drowsy, and generally cure all your woes. The April issue of Psychology Today looked at the most popular and what they really do (this is kinda behind the issue date because Psychology Today is Hannah's subscription. Until one of the girls tell me about what's in it, I never remember we even get it.) I liked reading what these actually do to achieve their effect so I'll do one of these a day ... that'll keep it short and readable.
Caffeine is the world's most popular drug. In the United States, some 85 percent of Americans use it daily. It can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate and cola. Caffeine provides the kick in many traditional drinks from South and Central America, such as yerba mate and guarana. Extracts of the West African kola nut and leaf have been used in energy drinks throughout the decades.

How It Works
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system to speed up heart rate, raise blood pressure and rev up metaolism. It heightens alertness and aids concentration, as any frazzled college student can attest. Clinical trials in athletes show that it increases aerobic endurance and the ability of muscles to contract.

Suggested Dose
When it comes to caffeine, form is a matter of taste and amount a matter of experience. For some, two cups of coffee a day will do the trick. For others, it's a cup of tea and a chocolate bar. It's good to know the amount that will satisfy your energy needs, because overuse can bring on the jitters, insomnia and other adverse reactions. For athletes, the smallest dose linked to positive results is 250 to 500 milligrams (or three cups of coffee).

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