Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coffee ; Pure Goodness or Plain Evil?


Many of us feel like we cannot function without our first cup of coffee in the morning. Why do we feel that way? Does the caffeine in the coffee have a physiological effect on our body? If so, is it harmful or is it beneficial? As with so many things, there are benefits and there are risks.

Caffeine, the main ingredient found in coffee is a stimulant. It causes your heart rate to increase, your pupils to dilate, and your muscles to tighten up. Caffeine injects adrenalin into your system to give you a boost and make you feel good.

BENEFITS OF CAFFEINE

Believe it or not, certain amounts of caffeine can have beneficial effects. Historically, small amounts of caffeine have been used to help control weight, alleviate pain, open up airways for improved breathing, and overcome chronic fatigue.

Small amounts of caffeine are found to provide the following benefits:

*Can benefit people who are at high-risk for liver disease.

*Increases muscle strength.

*Increases metabolism by breaking down fat, freeing fatty acids and forcing them to be burned. (Caffeine is the most active ingredient in many diet pills.)

*Increases pain relief medication effects.

*Increases mental faculty.

*Reduces asthma symptoms.

RISKS OF CAFFEINE

Two cups of coffee a day is considered an acceptable amount. Caffeine does not become a problem until you start consuming an excessive amount of it. As your body gets used to caffeine, it becomes addicted to it. The symptoms for drinking too much caffeine and the symptoms for caffeine withdrawal are very similar.

EXCESS CAFFEINE - Too much caffeine can cause an array of problems including:

*Restlessness

*Irritability

*Anxiety

*Heartburn

*Headaches (sometimes severe)

*High blood pressure

*Sleeplessness

*Rapid heartbeat

*Nausea

CAFFEINE WITHDRAWAL - Symptoms can begin as soon as 12 hours after your last cup, depending on the amount of caffeine your body is used to. Symptoms can last for up to a week and include:

*Restlessness

*Irritability

*Anxiety

*Headaches (sometimes severe)

*Muscle stiffness

*Chills and/or hot spells

If you are attempting to reduce your caffeine intake, do so gradually. Cutting back slowly will help you avoid some of the withdrawal symptoms. If you simply must have a cup of something in the morning, try decaf or an herbal tea.

CAFFEINE ALTERNATIVES 
Most people who drink coffee regularly, do so to combat fatigue. Regular coffee consumption increases tolerance to caffeine, resulting in a greater dependence on it. There are other options to deal with fatigue that do not rely on caffeine; 

*EAT BREAKFAST. Having a healthy breakfast (Include protein, not donuts!) every morning revs up your metabolism, improves your concentration, and makes it much easier to get through the morning.

*EAT A SNACK. If you find yourself getting sluggish by the middle of the morning, eat a healthy snack like fruit, whole grain crackers or yogurt. Complex carbohydrates supply your body with the energy it needs to be effective.

*MOVE THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk during your break or at lunch, and get up and stretch as often as possible during your day. Regular physical movement makes your heart pump harder and helps your body fight fatigue.   

*AVOID TOO MUCH FAT. If you find yourself falling asleep at your desk by 3:00 every afternoon, a high-fat lunch may be to blame. After you eat, your body is busy with the digestion process and distributing nutrients to the proper places. If you consume a lot of fat, it takes your body longer to work through the digestion process, causing you to feel more tired


Every story has a MYTH... 
Caffeinated beverages are not necessarily dehydrating. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it makes you pee more…so make sure you drink enough liquids (water, that is) to keep you hydrated. Keep in mind, that caffeine pills don’t contain any fluids and, therefore, can be VERY dehydrating.



COFFEE IN BEAUTY PRODUCTS

With summer round the corner, most people try everything that they can lay their hands on to minimize imperfections such as cellulite and varicose vein. Probably you might have even heard of homemade coffee scrubs that promise you results but with half the cost; well, I have to burst your bubble here and tell you that’s it’s not necessarily true.

Let’s make things a bit more clear shall we!?…When people think of caffeine,most  think immediately coffee…and yes, I cannot disagree with that. The difference though is that most commercial products used for our dreaded orange peel looking thighs, our spidery veins and dull under eye bags,  use caffeine extracts which are more concentrated then just your daily Nescafe` (which by the way, when I talk about the benefits of coffee, I always refer to the real stuff and not the soluble junk like such which is nothing but a synthetic concoction of chemicals)

Obviously, it doesn’t hurt to do a coffee DIY scrub every now and again… it’s still a great exfoliant that can improve circulation and thus it can still be in a way be effective to reduce the appearance of cellulite. It’s also a great substitute for homemade salt scrubs as not every skin can tolerate salt. And because coffee has the same pH level as our skin it only makes sense that we utilize it in skin care products. The cleansing element of coffee is another beneficial factor; this cleanser takes away strong odours by neutralizing and absorbing.

It has the ability to mend broken skin, soothe irritation, and revitalize cells. Coffee contains a free radical scavenger which helps to neutralize reactions caused by oxidation, which are the primary cause for conditions such as acne and eczema.

One thing I would definitely recommend is; eliminate all your soluble ‘coffee’ crap and shift to real freshly grounded coffee beans… you’re worth it! :P

Back to caffeine now.

Caffeine is also currently being used in skin creams and lotions because; it is a vasodilator, which means that it constricts blood cells. The benefit of caffeine for your skin is that it will firstly work to reduce redness. Secondly, it will firm and tighten surface of your skin through constriction, so many companies are using this ingredient to reduce the appearance of cellulite. The caffeine in coffee when used in skin care works to dehydrate fatty cells so that water will disappear from the surface of your skin. This means that the appearance of cellulite is minimized, and your skin begins to look smoother overall.


After all have been said and done, what does the research have to say about this? Shall we hold that coffee cup or not? 

‘’The fact that coffee contains good stuff does not necessarily mean that it’s good for us’’, says James D. Lane, PhD, professor of medical psychology and behavioral medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

“It has not really been shown that coffee drinking leads to an increase in antioxidants in the body,” Lane tells WebMD. “We know that there are antioxidants in large quantities in coffee itself, especially when it’s freshly brewed, but we don’t know whether those antioxidants appear in the bloodstream and in the body when the person drinks it. Those studies have not been done.”



MY FINAL TOUGHTS…

Well, I’m not a huge coffee drinker but I do like my occasional strong cup of espresso after a good meal, which really does wonders for my digestion. Having said so, I think the secret of well being is BALANCE… everything can beneficial in small amounts… and when in doubt, well, I just rub my body with it instead! :P




Administrative 
This is Charlene Mercieca, from the SoapCafe`, reminding you that these tips are provided for your information and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, please work with your health professional to determine what’s right for you.


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