|Caffeine - Tea's Natural Energizer
|Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in tea and many other foods and beverag-
es, such as coffee, soda, and chocolate, just to name a few.
|Tea contains half the caffeine
(50 milligrams) of coffee (100
milligrams), and gives tea
drinkers a nice invigorating
and uplifting feeling, which is why more than
one-and-a-half billion cups of tea are drunk
each day worldwide, making it second only to
water in popularity.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimu-
lant and along with theobromine and theo-
phylline, makes up a family of chemicals
called methylxanthines. Each of the three
methylxanthines found in tea act in slightly
different ways inside the body.
Caffeine is the strongest of the three, and
|affects the brain and muscles, which is why shortly after drinking a caffeinated beverage such as
tea, a quick mental boost is experienced.
Theophylline is also a powerful stimulant, but works on different areas
of the body, mainly the healthy function of the cardiovascular system.
Last is theobromine, which functions very much like caffeine and theo-
phylline, but is the weakest of the three compounds.
Soon after drinking a cup of tea, you'll notice an increased alertness
and mood boost, as well as an increased ability to process information.
Research also shows an increase in feelings of well being, energy, and
motivation to work and complete activities.
Other scientific research shows caffeine im-
proves cognitive performance, especially re-
lating to reaction time, spatial relationships,
and certain aspects of memory.
Caffeine has also been shown to have a stim-
ulating effect on kidney function, most likely
because it increases blood flow to the kidneys.
It also acts as a mild stimulant to the respira-
tory system, with slightly faster and deeper
breathing. For this reason some asthmatics
are being treated with caffeine to help ease
And there's even good news for competitive
(and non-competitive) athletes who've dreamt
of finding ergonomic aids-substances to im-
prove their physical performance. The caffeine in just a few cups of tea can help increase
both the endurance and intensity of exercise. Research shows that caffeine increases
the levels of fatty acids, which in turn are used as an energy source, rather than using
the body's reserves of glycogen (the body's stored form of glucose), increasing perform-
ance and as much as doubling the body's endurance levels.
As with everything, though, too much of a good thing can
be, well...bad. Although the amount of caffeine in tea is
minimal, it's found in many other foods and beverages.
So, in the course of a day, your caffeine intake can add
up. Excessive caffeine consumption can cause increased
urination, diarrhea, heartburn, irritability, and insomnia.
Of course symptoms will vary from one person to another.
Caffeine should also be totally avoided during pregnancy. In fact, if possible it is recomm-
ended that women avoid caffeine entirely for a few weeks before conception. The caff-
eine levels in tea also vary. Black tea has the highest caffeine lev-
els, with oolong tea having half as much as black, and white and
green tea only one third as much as black tea. One way to lessen
the amount of caffeine in your tea is to brew it for a shorter amount
To help avoid problems with insomnia, switch to a decaffeinated tea
in the evening. Or a nice cup of chamomile or jasmine tea is a sure
way to wind down after a hectic day.
Tea's versatility is just one of the things I love about it. Whether it's
a morning wake-up, afternoon pick-me-up, or just to relax in the
evening or before bed, there's a tea for every time of day, night, and mood. Enjoy.
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