If we were playing a word association game where I said, “Stop” and you said “Go,” and then I said “Caffeine” – you might just answer “Coffee.”
Yes, caffeine and coffee go hand in hand, unless you quaff the decaffeinated kind of java. And, for the record, according to a 2007 study from Consumer Reports, 36 decaf coffee name brands tested (including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts) still contained 20 or more milligrams (mg) of caffeine, as compared to about 100 mg of caffeine in a fully caffeinated cup of coffee.
Chocolate, sodas, and some teas also have a lot of caffeine in them. All are popular energy boosters favored by Americans and around the world, in large part because of how fast-acting they are. A single cup of mud can enter the bloodstream within 20 minutes with noticeable effects within the hour.
Caffeine, a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants, stimulates the brain and central nervous system to keep you awake and alert.
Evidently, humans have enjoyed the enlivening warmth of a nice cup of tea for quite some time: evidence of the first brewed tea dates as far back as 2737 BC.
Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a biochemical neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and causes a feeling of fatigue.
Caffeine in moderation is normally just fine, but the drug is mildly addictive. My mother used to travel with No-Doze caffeine pills (a favorite of students and truck drivers everywhere) in case the hosts offered (gasp!) decaffeinated coffee for breakfast.
Mom needs that kick-start to her day – and she is far from alone. I favor a cup or two of joe in the morning but seldom imbibe after lunch. Some people consume caffeine all day and up until bedtime. Not too surprisingly, some of them have “sewing machine legs” that never stop foot-tapping and trouble sleeping.
Michael Yassa led a team at Johns Hopkins and found that caffeine enhanced long-term memory in us humans – at least, up to 24 hours after ingestion.
“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans,” said Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences.
Moderation is key with caffeine.
Consumed in large amounts, caffeine can kill. In April 2017, a 16-year-old boy in South Carolina named Davis Allen Cripe collapsed and “died from a caffeine overdose after drinking caffeine-laden soft drinks, coffee and an energy drink.”
South Carolina’s Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said at a news conference:
“On this particular day within the two hours prior to his death, we know had consumed a large diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonalds and also some type of energy drink.”
The coroner ruled there was “so much caffeine at the time of his death that it caused his arrhythmia.”
Just so you know, here is the caffeine content estimated in one cup (8 fluid ounces) of the following beverages:
- Espresso: 240–720 mg
- Coffee: 102–200 mg
- Yerba mate: 65–130 mg
- Energy drinks: 50–160 mg
- Brewed tea: 40–120 mg
- Soft drinks: 20–40 mg
- Decaffeinated coffee: 3–12 mg
- Cocoa beverage: 2–7 mg
- Chocolate milk: 2–7 mg
A can of Jolt cola contains 160 mg of caffeine. That’s exactly the same of a can of Red Bull and far more than a can of Coke (45 mg). Heck, a can of Mountain Dew (54 mg) will provide a bigger buzz than the world’s standard brand of carbonated soda drink.
Oddly enough, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require caffeine information on the nutrition labels that food and drink manufacturers use to inform consumers before purchase and consumption.
As mentioned before, caffeine occurs naturally in the seeds, nuts, and leaves of some plants. This means it crops up in places you might normally overlook.
If you like to lick coffee or chocolate ice cream, expect some caffeine there. “Many popular brands have coffee flavors that contain between 30 and 45 milligrams of caffeine per half cup, which is about the same as a can of Coke,” according to Health.com. Thank goodness chocolate ice cream has much less: 1/2 cup of Breyer’s All Natural proved to have only 3 mg.
Weight-loss pills, pain relievers, energy water, and alcoholic energy drinks, all contain enough caffeine to get your attention.
Want a caffeine jolt in solid food form? Consider trying SumSeeds Energized Sunflower Seeds which full of natural folate, B6, and vitamin E, as well as natural energy boosters taurine, lysine, and ginseng – plus a whopping 140 mg of caffeine – equal to drinking four cans of Coca Cola.
Remember not to overdo it. Side effects of too much caffeine include anxiety, restlessness, tremors, an irregular heartbeat, troubled sleep, headaches, migraines, and high blood pressure.
When in doubt, cut back for a while. If you feel better, you’ll know that Less is More.