Happy National Coffee Day! Coffee is our number one beverage and boy do we all need our caffeine. It seems that every year they find out something new and usually good, about coffee and its affects on our health. The consensus in the medical community is that moderate regular coffee drinking in healthy individuals is either essentially benign or mildly beneficial. Drink it black and in moderation, it may be good for you. I posted this blog five years ago in 2011 and thought it time to revisit it so here it is.
Today (Sept 29th) is National Coffee Day. To celebrate we will take a look at the main draw in that cup of joe, Caffeine. Check the Internet for coupons from your favorite coffee house; you just might get a free cup.
I don't drink coffee but that does not mean I miss out on my daily caffeine fix. I mentioned it in a blog about Ice last month. Caffeine is the most popular psychoactive drug in the world. Every day enough cups of caffeine (not just coffee) are served up to give one cup to every man, woman and child on the planet!
Although the FDA calls caffeine a "generally recognized as safe food substance", it is clearly a drug with profound physical and psychological effects. In humans, caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. It also has diuretic properties. Long-term consumption can lead to addiction and tolerance. Withdrawal symptoms can also appear within 12 to 24 hours after your last latte. In spite of this, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.
Caffeine is a bitter xanthine alkaloid. It is occurs naturally in varying amounts in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of a number of plants. In these plants it acts as a natural pesticide, killing the insect pests that are damaging to the plant. Caffeine is a natural component of coffee, tea and chocolate, and is added as an energy boost in most colas and energy drinks. About 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine every day in one form or another with more than half of all adults consuming more than 300 milligrams (3 cups of coffee) daily. Caffeine was first isolated from coffee in 1820. Today most pure caffeine comes from the process used to make decaffeinated coffees and teas.
Caffeine is also found in diet pills and some over-the-counter pain relievers and medicines. Medically, caffeine is used as a cardiac stimulant and a mild diuretic. It also acts as a bronchodilator. In beverages, it is used to provide a "boost of energy". More and more people are taking energy drinks to stay awake while working or driving long distances. Many people feel as though they need a morning cup of coffee to get going for the day and provide the wake up jolt it gives them.
Caffeine operates using the same biological mechanisms that amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin use to stimulate the brain. Caffeine impacts the functioning of the neurotransmitters adenosine and dopamine. It blocks the adenosine receptors so you don't feel sleepy and your blood vessels constrict. This causes adrenaline to be released, which stimulates the body. Caffeine also blocks dopamine reuptake thus increasing dopamine levels resulting in elevated mood, improved memory and cognition, and increased heart rate. If you feel like you cannot make it through the day without it, then you may be addicted to caffeine. In excess it can cause restlessness, insomnia, muscle twitching, gastrointestinal disturbance, cardiac arrhythmia and a host of other problems.
The problem with caffeine is its long-term effects, which tend to cycle downward. Once the effects of caffeine wear off you face fatigue and depression. So what are you going to do? You get another cup of caffeine to get the cycle going again. As you can imagine, having your body amped up all day long isn't very healthy, and can make you edgy and irritable.
Worse still is the effect that caffeine has on sleep. The half-life of caffeine is about six hours. That means that half of the caffeine you consume at 3:00pm is still in your body at 9:00pm when you are trying to go to bed. You may be able to fall asleep, but you will probably miss out on the benefits of a deep sleep. The next day you will feel worse, so you need more caffeine as soon as you get out of bed. And the cycle goes on day after day. This is why so many of us consume caffeine daily. Once you get in the cycle, you cannot get out because if you try to stop the caffeine, you get very tired and foggy headed with a splitting headache forcing you to run back to your caffeine crutch.
In spite of all these side effects, we all love our Frappe Mocha Latte in the morning. And caffeine has some benefits as well. We will look at some of our favorite caffeine fixes and their caffeine content as well as the benefits of caffeine in the next blog release.
So the Israelites must have run out of coffee when they confronted Moses on this day! Exodus 15:24 (NIV) - "So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, What are we to drink?"