Caffeine: A Boost With A Big Price29 May 2012
Many current news articles tell us that coffee and chocolate, despite their caffeine content, are healthy indulgences because of their rich antioxidants. We are told that they curb inflammation and decrease heart disease. I recently read results of a 15-year study out of Norway’s University of Oslo showing that post-menopausal women who drink at least a cup of coffee a day are less likely to get heart disease. Such reports cause many to believe they can coddle their addiction without guilt. Can these findings be true?
Let’s consider some facts about caffeine. Caffeine acts as a powerful vasoconstrictor in the brain. What occurs is the widespread constriction of this vital organ’s blood vessels, thereby decreasing circulation and oxygen supply by up to 30 percent. As a stimulant, caffeine increases heart rate and raises blood pressure. We all know that these are not health-creating conditions. Coffee is acid-forming in the body rather than alkalizing, and decaf coffee is even more acidic than regular. Most people suffer from extensive acidity to begin with and do not need further contribution from this ominous element. The body is forced to rob calcium from the bones and tissues in an effort to neutralize debilitating acid. A number of credible studies have linked caffeine to calcium loss, contributing to osteoporosis and increased bone fractures. A study printed in the January 1994 Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who drank just two cups of coffee a day increased their risk of hip fracture by 69 percent. Coffee has also been linked to cancer. When roasted, coffee beans form a potent carcinogen called benzopyrene. An average cup of coffee contains 500 micrograms of known carcinogens. A 1981 study from the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that drinking coffee was the cause of half of all pancreatic cancer cases. It also found that drinking three cups of coffee a day increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by three times. Furthermore, all disease is promoted in an acidic environment and the goal of health is to create an alkaline body.
Nutritional deficiency has created a crisis of low energy and fatigue that is rampant. While many use caffeine for a “pick me up,” what it actually does is induce a state of stress. It drives the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones that can remain in the bloodstream for 18 hours after consumption. The cortisol that is pumped out invokes a fight-or-flight response. Energy is sent to our muscles to prepare for crisis. This reduces immunity and pilfers health-providing hormones. Precious energy that is needed for normal metabolic function is depleted by caffeine toxemia.
Caffeine promotes further blood sugar imbalance in the approximately 60-70 percent suffering with or prone to either hypoglycemia or diabetes, maladies which are steadily increasing. When caffeine is in the system, insulin or the amount of sugar in the blood is increased, placing the body’s chemistry in peril. J. Curtis Nickel, M.D., professor of Urology at Queen’s University and physician at Kingston General Hospital in Ontario, found that animals given small doses of a chemical called alloxan had a higher incidence of diabetes because it poisons the pancreas, affecting insulin production. This alarming finding impelled him to experiment on himself as well as with diabetic patients. Realizing that caffeine stimulates the production of alloxan, he intentionally eliminated all forms of caffeine with hopes that it would positively affect his own diabetic condition. After two weeks without caffeine, he was able to forego insulin. This prompted him to suggest that 45 of his Type II Diabetes patients remove caffeine from their diet. An amazing 40 of those 45 patients were able to reverse their diabetes simply by omitting caffeine from their lifestyle.
With any drug, withdrawal symptoms occur, so those with the courage to remove this harmful stimulant must expect detoxification discomforts. One of the most common is headaches, caused by the sudden increased circulation to the brain when blood flow is no longer constricted. Other indicators are fatigue, sleepiness, irritability, lethargy, discontent, depression, poor concentration and, in some, even flu-like nausea and vomiting accompanied by muscle pain and stiffness. The narcotic effect of caffeine is so powerful that its influence is abundantly clear when the addict reintroduces this stimulant and all symptoms vanish. Social acceptance of this lethal substance versus an illicit drug is all that separates the detrimental effect.
One has to consider all of the facts before reading a study and then rushing to jump on the caffeine bandwagon. It is easy to pull just one piece of information from a study and skew it to prove almost anything. Are there antioxidants in coffee and chocolate? Of course, but they also exist in heroin and cocaine. Does that make you any more prone to consume those substances? You can acquire even greater benefits by consuming real foods chock-full of nutrients and beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals. The group of antioxidants touted in coffee is polyphenols, plant compounds that act as antioxidants and protect against heart disease and cancer. Coffee contains polyphenols, but so do many other plant foods. Grape skin practically overflows with polyphenols, and the deeper their color, the richer the source of polyphenols. Those avoiding fructose can acquire similar benefits from green vegetables such as bok choy or mustard greens. These whole foods also provide fiber, high amounts of quality vitamins, minerals and in some cases fatty acids.
Consider the perceived benefits of energy and the positive antioxidant effect from caffeine. Then contemplate the fact that wheatgrass juice contains a much wider array of antioxidants and also provides the body with a surge of cumulative energy. Rather than depriving the brain of oxygen as caffeine is apt to, wheatgrass juice oxygenates all cells and provides life-giving enzymes. Rather than stimulating the body to produce stress hormones, it actually supplies health-inducing hormones.
Carefully consider the wording when reading studies. One study reported that Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than any other food. I stopped and thought about the fact that, because Americans are consuming such a nutrient-poor diet with little to no fresh vegetables or fruit, it is not surprising that they are getting more antioxidants from coffee than other foods. The second greatest source is tea, then bananas, beans and corn. This is not to say that these foods contain the highest amount of antioxidants, but rather that these are the foods Americans as well as most Westerners eat that happen to contain limited antioxidants. Observe for yourself the way the facts were manipulated.
Living a healthy life in the 21st century requires us to be intensely discriminating. Believing and acting upon twisted studies promoted in the media and by greedy corporations and entire industries will lead us to consume “false foods” like caffeine and compromise our health in the process. Your health depends upon your resolve to take personal responsibility and make the best choices. If you employ good common sense, you do not have to search for scientific approval before consuming any food or substance. For decades, coffee and other caffeinated drinks have been targeted as health destroyers. This fact remains in spite of the bogus claims made by corrupt researchers.
Vol 26 Issue 4 Page 48