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Story with caffeine


Where research has fluctuated for decades on whether caffeine is good for us or not. Should we really be indulging in a tea/ coffee fix?

Are daily cuppas really good for one's health?

The answer may just make you shout -- it's still both yes and no! Why?

The health predictors are leaning more towards recommending, even encouraging coffee and tea consumption, as they are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols.

Pros and cons of drinking coffee and tea

Mood enhancers: At consumption levels of up to four cups of ordinary brewed coffee, consumers report an improved sense of energy, sociability and general happiness, even peppiness.

Endurance and alertness booster: Sleep-deprived youth depend on caffeine to help them make it through their day, make it through their exams, or even when they need to drive safely late at night. This is because caffeine improves alertness and reflexes. But at higher consumption levels the caffeine in coffee and tea may wreck sleep as it is easily absorbed into our systems and the body takes almost six to eight hours to get rid of it totally. For those who work out and are active, caffeine increases not only their ability to work out for longer periods of times, but also helps them perform better.

Weight control: Caffeine from either source, ie tea or coffee, suppresses the appetite and may boost short-term metabolic activity to burn an additional 100 calories a day.

Bone health: Some research has shown that tea may help keep bones strong. Other research also shows that caffeine at high levels (744 mg and above) can potentially cause calcium and magnesium loss through urine and thereby lead to a higher risk of hip fractures.

Cancer: Coffee is linked to lower rates of liver and colon cancer. In a recent study conducted by the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida consuming three cups of tea a day was found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women under the age of 50 by 37 percent.

Heart health: Tea relaxes the arteries and lowers blood pressure. Coffee, on the other hand is not recommended for most patients with blood pressure, as it is a known stimulant. Over a period of time, regular coffee intake for patients with high blood pressure can be a matter of concern, alhough recent studies have shown that it is the caffeine in colas that poses a greater threat of developing heart disease than caffeine found in coffee and tea. Decaf coffee is associated with high cholesterol levels.

Brain health: Dr Miia Kivipelto, an associate professor of neurology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm reports that green tea may prevent Alzheimer's Disease. Coffee may have an antioxidant effect on the bloodstream by reducing vascular risk factors for dementia. Further, people who drank regular caffeinated coffee, were reported to have 30 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's Disease.

Type 2 Diabetes: In a recent study, people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine, but with no sugar ofcourse, had a 28 percent lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes. This benefit probably comes from coffee's antioxidant properties and from the chlorogenic acid found in it.

Urinary system health: Tea and coffee may help in the prevention of developing kidney stones, gout and gallstones. For pregnant women: Drinking more than two cups of coffee or three to four cups of tea could prove to be harmful, as it increases the risk of miscarriage by 25 percent.

Dehydration: Having a couple of cups of coffee can be counted towards one's daily fluid intake of 64 fl oz ( 2 litres). However, drinking in excess of four cups of strong coffee can lead to dehydration, as caffeine is a diuretic and induces frequent visits to the rest room (caffeine levels above 575 mg a day from any source -- colas, tea and coffee). So how to tread the line between moderate and excessive intake?

The bottom line is that drinking two cups of coffee, or three to four cups of tea a day can be safely recommended. Remember, " Moderation in any form of consumption is the key to good health ".

For your information

Coffee naturally contains caffeine - about 100 mg in a single cup. Espresso also contains 100 mg, and a grande latte or cappuccino 150 mg.

A can of cola or diet cola contains 45.6 mg, and a single fizzy energy drink has 80 mg. Tea can have caffeine as well, about 50 mg in black tea and 15 mg in green. Even decaf coffee still has five milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup.


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