It seems to be the American way to start the day. You wearily turn on the coffee maker and wait with baited breath for that first cup. You take that first sip and smile. Now your day can only get better or... you're now on the verge of going nuts! According to a news story being reported today, March 5, 2014 in the San Francisco Chronicle, your dependence on caffeine may be making you a physical and emotional wreck!
There are always reports coming out regarding caffeine and how it affects our bodies. Some of these reports say it creates havoc with our internal system and others will say it is actually healthy. The fact of the matter is, it depends on the person who is taking the caffeine as caffeine, like any other "drug" affects each person differently and, there are numerous types (strengths) of caffeine.
So, what actually is caffeine. According to Wikipedia it is defined thusly: "Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid and a stimulant drug. Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants, as well as enhancing the reward memory of pollinators. It is most commonly consumed by humans in infusions extracted from the seed of the coffee plant and the leaves of the tea bush, as well as from various foods and drinks containing products derived from the kola nut. Other sources include yerba maté, guarana berries, guayusa, and the yaupon holly."
There is really no doubt that caffeine is addictive. According to Laura Juliano, a psychology professor at American University in Washington, D.C., "Caffeine has caused significant problems for some people. We have people who say caffeine is interfering with their life. They keep saying they're going to stop, but they can't. I've seen people who have gone to great lengths to get caffeine when it was unavailable. I knew one woman who pretty much ruined her husband's tropical vacation because she spent half the day looking for caffeine."
When it comes to the study of caffeine addiction the main product studied is usually coffee. This makes since when you consider coffee is the #1 way most American's get their daily caffeine fix. However the fact-of-the-matter is, caffeine, like any drug, depends on the strain. The caffeine in most teas is less potent than coffee. On the other hand, the caffeine in drinks such as "Jolt," could probably send a small elephant into a jittery euphoria.
When it comes to caffeine and the possible health problems it creates, you simply must look at yourself. If you are a caffeine consumer and in the course of your day you are feeling anxious, you might want to cut back. If after a stressful moment you find yourself having a Starbucks attack, you might want to cut back. It really is pretty much common sense.
With the increase of caffeine in food and drink products, this problem may actually become pandemic, thus it would need a catchy name. Perhaps it can now be called The Starbucks Syndrome.
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook" is now available worldwide and features 80 dishes from the era of the most acclaimed television show in the history of PBS, Downton Abbey.