- Caffeine is good for improving attention span and cognitive function. However, it is essential to consider the negative implications of excessive consumption
The world seems to run on caffeine these days. With packed schedules and hectic days, everyone needs extra fuel to get by.
Caffeine is good for improving attention span and cognitive function. However, it is essential to consider the negative implications of excessive tea and coffee consumption.
How many cups are too much?
The answer varies from person-to-person as everyone has a unique rate at which they metabolise caffeine but a general rule is no more than 1 to 3 cups of caffeinated beverages a day.
It remains true that antioxidants present in coffee and tea may help to protect against free radicals present in the body that increase inflammation.
They are rich in polyphenols (potent antioxidants) that may aid against cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, Alzheimer's, and cancer. Additionally, coffee and tea consumption have been linked to a decreased risk of mortality and obesity.
However, despite the incredible benefits present in caffeinated beverages, caffeine is a chemical stressor. Excessive caffeine consumption has been linked to anxiety, GERD (chronic acid reflux), high blood pressure, increased heart rate, fertility issues, headaches, irritability, insomnia and more.
It is recommended to have your last cup of caffeine at least 8 hours before your bedtime to ensure better sleep quality. Consuming caffeine too late in the day makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
This is due to the fact that caffeine naturally increases cortisol (stress hormone) production. Cortisol should naturally decrease towards the end of the day, therefore consuming caffeine too close to bedtime deregulates cortisol production and can actually make you feel tired and cranky the next morning. Elevated cortisol not only effects sleep and mood but may also suppress the immune system.
As a tea drinking nation, Pakistanis should try to cut down on their daily tea intake in order to protect themselves against the harmful effects of caffeine. Moderation is essential for optimal health.
Sugar is another important topic to discuss.
The healthiest way to drink chai or coffee is to either skip the sugar all together or use natural sweeteners like honey to sweeten. Honey is a natural sweetener that is packed with amazing minerals and has a lower glycemic index than white sugar.
High sugar consumption has been linked to weight gain, inflammation, fatty liver disease, and blood sugar deregulation.
A healthy caffeine alternative is Haldi Doodh or Golden Milk. Haldi Doodh is an ancient ayurvedic, anti-inflammatory drink that most Pakistanis have been drinking for years. This recipe is simple and full of beneficial superfoods that may improve health and sleep.
1 cup dairy or dairy-free milk
½ cup water
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 black peppercorns
½ inch cinnamon stick
1 slightly cracked cardamom pod
1 star anise
1 thin slice of fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon honey
In a small pot over medium heat, bring all the ingredients except for the coconut oil and honey to a simmer. Whisk well and reduce the flame to low or low-medium. Cover with the lid slightly open and allow the haldi doodh to simmer for 5-8 minutes. Strain the frothy, hot drink into a cup. Add the coconut oil and honey and enjoy!
Note: The black pepper and coconut oil are optional but highly recommended to activate and better absorb the curcumin which is the main phenolic compound present in turmeric.
As a note, caffeine is a psychoactive drug that should not be abused.
Additionally, try to purchase organic coffee beans and tea leaves as non-organic coffee and tea are sprayed with glyphosate herbicide. This herbicide has been linked to cancer and other negative side effects.
The writer is a certified functional nutritionist