Americans are as addicted to caffeine as ever, reports CNN today. Does this have anything to do with recent industry efforts to label coffee a "health food"? After all, it's the number one source of antioxidants for most Americans—a sad statement, akin to the fact that potatoes are still by far the number one "vegetable" we consume! Or maybe because recent studies have given the thumbs up to caffeine's brain benefits? I suspect this surge in stimulant drinking has very little to do with our health and much more to do with our 24-7 nonstop lifestyles, the ubiquitousness of Starbucks, and the prevalence of energy drinks like hypercaffeinated Red Bull.
Actually, caffeine comes up on a near-daily basis around the Delicious Living office. "Is a latte really that bad?" our editor in chief, Nancy Coulter-Parker asks me at least once a week when she's feeling guilty. According to the CNN article, Nancy and I are among the 65% of moms who use caffeine to get through their day (and who can blame us, given how much is expected of us!).
But, exactly HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? Caffeine wreaks havoc on your sleep (duh!) (and stays in your system for many hours than you might think, so be careful about that midafternoon cuppa), makes you jittery, can increase chances of miscarriage, and potentially disrupts heart rhythm, etc., etc. But that won't stop us from drinking it. Just paying attention to the effects it has on you should be enough (more than one high-test espresso is enough to make my face flush and my inner ears swell, but my husband can drink a cup of coffee before bed and sleep just fine). Experts recommend about 200 mg per day. Personally, I love green or white teas because they contain L-theanine, a calming compound, and milder amounts of caffeine. And, of course, we should all focus on incorporating more energizing activities—such as yoga, walking, reading for inspiration, BREATHING—into our daily lives.