September 16, 2011

Curb That Caffeine Fix!

Sep 16
I read an article in the Globe and Mail a few days ago about how some school cafeterias have banned all caffeinated drinks including coffee, tea, caffeine-laden soft drinks, and energy drinks. It is refreshing to see a step in the right direction in regards to our children’s well-being! Now if only all schools will follow suit! I find it worrisome to see that so many parents allow their children to drink soft drinks and other caffeinated beverages. In my opinion, caffeine consumption should be limited not only in children, but for adults as well. While I do sometimes enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, I definitely try to limit my intake especially in light of all the research out there. Research shows that there are quite a few negative effects from heavy caffeine consumption. Large amounts of caffeine may decrease bone mass density, most likely by interfering with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Coffee has also been shown to interfere with your body’s ability to keep homocysteine and cholesterol levels under control. There have been further studies that associate coffee with an increased risk of stroke as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers have also found that the caffeine in coffee can raise blood pressure and elevate levels of stress hormones in your body. Furthermore, heavy consumption can also lead to heart palpitations, nervousness, and jitters in children as well as adults. Some of the other side effects associated with caffeine are:
  • Anxiety
  • Fast heart rate
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
There are just so many other negative implications in regards to caffeine that it really isn’t worth it, especially for children. In fact, the half-life of caffeine in small children is increased and this means that it will stay in the child’s body longer. It is also much harder for small children to detoxify caffeine than adults and this essentially makes their body work harder to get it out of their system. Compared to the general adult population, children are also at an increased risk for possible behavioural effects from caffeine. It honestly just isn’t good for their young bodies! For Canadian children between the ages of one to five, 55% of their caffeine comes in the form of soft drinks, 30% from tea, and about 14% from chocolate. There is absolutely no reason a child should be drinking soft drinks or tea at all! Human beings are not genetically programmed to be tired and sluggish – especially not children and teenagers! If anyone is regularly consuming caffeine to combat lethargy, there is something wrong! It is just not acceptable for people to accept feeling tired and sluggish as a norm. It is not the norm and you can do something about it! It could be as simple as making some easy lifestyle changes. This lethargy might be brought on by poor decisions such as:
  • Poor food choices
  • Low-quality food
  • Stressful lifestyle
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of exercise
If none of the above sounds like you and you’re still always tired, it may be time to get some further testing done to get to the root of your problem. You might be suffering from adrenal fatigue or a myriad of other disorders that can lead to feelings of lethargy. The fortunate part is that this can all often be resolved – it’s just that most people don’t realize it and come to accept feeling less than optimal as acceptable. I don’t believe anyone should accept feeling poorly because at the end of the day, living with pain and lethargy isn’t really living at all!