Caffeine exists naturally in tea, coffee, and cocoa. Like many plant compounds, caffeine has a long list of potential health benefits including increased energy, better endurance, improved physical performance, enhanced short-term memory, superior focus, and faster mental cognition. Pregnant women should consume no more than 200-300 mg a day, however. Though trace amounts of caffeine may be present in the water supply and in chicken feed, the levels are low enough to not pose a risk to pregnant women.

One may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms within a few days of reduced intake, but its addictiveness may be beneficial for those with health conditions amenable to the intake of coffee. Tea may also be addicting even though it is less caffeinated than coffee. Tea also contains theanine, a substance that stimulates alpha brainwave activity and promotes a feeling of calmness. It may actually be harder for those eating cruciferous vegetables th to get a caffeine buzz since they better enable the liver to clear caffeine from the body. Theoretically grapefruit might have the opposite effect.

No difference in urine output was found between drinking caffeinated tea and plain water, suggesting tea is as hydrating as water. Caffeine appears to help protect against the development of Parkinson’s disease in both Asian and Western populations. As little as two cups of coffee a day contains enough caffeine to improve symptoms for those who have already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada disputes the misconception that caffeine increases breast pain. Despite the fact that caffeine is a stimulant, it appears to have no effect on atrial fibrillation, although it may impair artery function. Caffeinated coffee may lead to heartburn in some, increase risk of glaucoma, and increase risk of dry eye disease. For those under 55, it is not recommended to drink more than four cups a day.

Topic summary contributed by Selena.

Page 112