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The Health Reformer
An informative, provocative and essential newsletter...
Caffeine is not a stress reliever...the opposite is true
Many people think "of caffeine as a stress reliever, but a new study suggests the opposite is true.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine actually exaggerates stress and its effect lasts throughout the day. Even more troubling, the researchers concluded that the equivalent of four cups of coffee raises blood pressure for many hours. Although the increases appear modest, they are large enough to affect heart attack and stroke risk, says lead author James D. Lane, PhD. The findings were reported in the July/August issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.The level of blood pressure change we saw has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease,' Lane tells WebMD. 'People consuming typical amounts of coffee and caffeinated soft drinks are probably raising their blood pressure by an amount equal to the beneficial reduction seen with antihypertensive drugs. So if you are taking blood pressure medication, it may not be doing you any good if you are drinking three or four cups of coffee a day.'
Caffeine is consumed daily by an estimated 85% of adults in the U.S. in the form of coffee, tea, and sodas. The average daily number of cups per coffee drinker is 3.3, and 64% of all coffee is consumed at breakfast. To determine the impact of caffeine consumption during the morning and early afternoon, Lane and colleagues recruited 47 daily coffee drinkers for a two-day study. Half of the subjects were given caffeine capsules on the first day and the other half were given placebo pills. On the second study day, the two groups were switched; the previous day's placebo group got the caffeine and the caffeine group got the placebo. The total caffeine given equaled that found in four cups of coffee, and the capsules were consumed in the morning and at lunchtime. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured repeatedly on both days using a portable monitor, and stress hormone levels were monitored through urine samples. When caffeine and placebo days were compared, the researchers found blood pressure to be consistently higher on the caffeine days -- an average of 4 millimeters (mm) higher for systolic pressure and 3 mm for diastolic. Stress hormone levels also rose by an average of 32% on the caffeine days, and both the blood pressure and adrenaline increase lasted throughout the day and into the evening.
The message for the average coffee drinker is that if they are worried about blood pressure or if they feel highly stressed, they might want to consider cutting back on or eliminating caffeine,' Lane says.It is a simple thing to do, and they might feel a whole lot better. By Salynn Boyles, WebMD Medical News
IMPORTANT: "Tea acts as a stimulants and, to a certain extent, produces intoxication. The action of coffee and many other popular drinks is similar. The first effect is exhilarating. The nerves of the stomach are excited; these convey irritation to the brain, and this in turn is aroused to impart increased action to the heart and short-lived energy to the entire system. Fatigue is forgotten; the strength seems to be increased. The intellect is aroused, the imagination becomes more vivid. Because of these results, many suppose that their tea or coffee is doing them great good. But this is a mistake. Tea and coffee do not nourish the system. Their effect is produced before there has been time for digestion and assimilation, and what seems to be strength is only nervous excitement. When the influence of the stimulant is gone, the unnatural force abates, and the result is a corresponding degree of languor and debility. The continued use of these nerve irritants is followed by headache, wakefulness, palpitation of the heart, indigestion, trembling, and many other evils; for they wear away the life forces. Tired nerves need rest and quiet instead of stimulation and overwork. Nature needs time to recuperate her exhausted energies. When her forces are goaded on by the use of stimulants, more will be accomplished for a time; but, as the system becomes debilitated by their constant use, it gradually becomes more difficult to rouse the energies to the desired point. The demand for stimulants becomes more difficult to control, until the will is overborne and there seems to be no power to deny the unnatural craving. Stronger and still stronger stimulants are called for, until exhausted nature can no longer respond. ....In relation to tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcoholic drinks, the only safe course is to touch not, taste not, handle not. The tendency of tea, coffee, and similar drinks is in the same direction as that of alcoholic liquor and tobacco, and in some cases the habit is as difficult to break as it is for the drunkard to give up intoxicants. Those who attempt to leave off these stimulants will for a time feel a loss and will suffer without them. But by persistence they will overcome the craving and cease to feel the lack. Nature may require a little time to recover from the abuse she has suffered; but give her a chance, and she will again rally and perform her work nobly and well." The Ministry of Healing, pp.326, 335
NOTE: Energy drinks like Red Bull have as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Cereal beverages such as Postum, Pero, and Roma have a coffee-like taste and can take the place of regular coffee. These products contain no caffeine at all and no caffeol (a stomach irritant) which even decaf coffee still contains.