Saturday, October 9, 2010

RANT/HEALTH: A Sip of A Drug

      This post is a definite deviation from the regular post but I figured it would be a nice change of pace. I am known for storing, what some may call 'useless' facts, that probably will never get me far in life as I like read a lot of random stuff. One area I do enjoy though is psychology and I am fascinated by the capacity of the human brain. Areas such as memory, intelligence and dreams are really quite interesting to me. Freud was a little nutty but I still think he was a genius. I also love movies and books that toy with your mind such as Nolan's Memento or Inception, or even Danielewski's House of Leaves. I highly recommend these, particularly Inception. It is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.
      Health is important and since I have chosen a profession in the medical industry it is very hard for me to ignore. Having graduated from an academic teaching hospital, 95% of my free time was spent on research. The other 5% was spent on writing essays with that research =_=, so yes research was everywhere. A disclaimer though: this post is by no means implying that I am an expert at anything, it is just something I like talking about. Take everything with a grain of salt
      I'm pretty sure that many of you drink a caffeine equivalent such as:
Yes, that is a Beanie Baby in the corner...
      Coffee was my savior when I tried to pull all-nighters due to assignments and exams during school. What I find slightly amusing is that it is probably the world's most consumed legal drug (well, at least I think so anyway, I didn't bother trying to dig info up). Whether or not caffeine is deemed beneficial or harmful is still up for debate because there will always be new research published that goes for both cases. For those who aren't aware, caffeine is a psychoactive drug that acts as a stimulant. It acts on the central nervous system which is linked to the brain and alters mechanisms such as mood. Which is why for some it works wonders at increasing alertness but I also know some people that get very sleepy after ingesting caffeine. 
      For me, a cup such as the one above will keep me up for a good while. However, I can't drink this on a daily basis. I tried drinking one coffee for one whole week just to experiment but by the 3rd day or so, I had an increase in the frequency of headaches so I had to stop. Headaches are usually associated with withdrawal but it's not like I stopped before the onset of headaches, I stopped after. I'm assuming it was due to the lack of sleep because my brain was too stimulated. Those who have a tolerance to coffee seem to be able to drink a cup everyday - such as my parents - and be fine. If you were curious, that is a Venti Skinny Caramel Latte. Yum. This has approximately 225mg of caffeine.
      I found an interesting article on the risks and benefits of caffeine that touches on the effects within bodily systems such as the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal (Ruxton, 2009)1. In short, as long as caffeine is consumed in moderation it should not be detrimental to your health. The article states that 38-400mg/day is sufficient for a healthy adult, which is a huge gap (Ruxton, 2009, p.7). All the data in the article is based in the UK and the diet there may or may not be different from North America. I'm not going to go into the details about how to critically appraise an article (which by the way, I had to take a course on...kill me now). To be honest, research can be very, very taxing for the average consumer. For example, my parents will probably believe everything they hear/see on the TV/newspaper without thinking about the biases. On the other hand, many are skeptical and refuse to take it seriously. I do everything in moderation because if I were to take every new health discovery seriously I'd die. Oh, the irony. 
      I have no qualms about drinking caffeine and I try to get some in me a couple days out of the week because it does have health benefits. Research has given society many great breakthroughs and although I like reading it, it does get a little wish-washy. Soon they're going to be telling us that an apple a day doesn't really keep the doctor away. Or that eating vegetables are bad for your health. Who knows. This is why I think the various 'diets' that exist are a load of bullcrap, I'm not even going to go there. Wow, this post just turned into a rant which was not the intention. Sorry if this was absolutely useless. 
Again, the above is just my own opinion and it's completely fine if you don't agree. It may or may not be accurate. I don't mean to be offensive or ignorant but if you feel this way, I'm sorry.
Reference: Ruxton, C. (2009). Health aspects of caffeine: benefits and risks. Nursing Standard, 24(9).  

Products: 1. Starbucks Coffee - $5CAN, I am not affiliated. I just like coffee; 2. Your Health - $Priceless

No comments:

Post a Comment