Saturday, February 23, 2008

To Caffeinate or Not to Caffeinate? That is the Question.

The majority of health experts are quite divided on most issues, but one in particular that stirs up the tension is, whether or not caffeine from any source is a safe or healthy substance. I have to admit that until recently I was somewhat uncertain of my stance on this as well. Now the position I am taking is that caffeine in small doses is acceptable and in fact even beneficial in some cases provided that the user is extremely vigilant with their nutritional protocol thus providing the nutrients their body needs to nourish and support the adrenal pathways and to replenish the nutrients lost from caffeine consumption and the corresponding elevated metabolic rate.

My first point is that anytime you are consuming caffeine or any other stimulant you are actually taking a loan out on the energy your body produces. Think of your body like a bank. It only has the capability to produce so much energy each day. So to consume stimulants it is actually borrowing from your body's reserves for tomorrow thus leaving you in an 'overdraft' like state. So the key is to consume a diet rich in a variety of nutrients to help replenish the body's natural energy production each day.

Key nutrients include Vitamin B in all it's forms, all major electrolytes including but not limited to; calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium(this is because an increased metabolism not only requires more electrolytes to function but caffeine in particular causes leaching of minerals and electrolytes from your body's bones and tissues also leaving you in a deficit.), Amino acids particularly LTyrosine and DL Phenylalanine, plenty of water (probably 500ml for every 250mg of caffeine or other stimulants consumed) this will not only combat the diuretic effects but when your body's metabolism is elevated it is using more water than normal to carry out it's metabolic functions, so you are burning through water like crazy. Also a diet high in fruits and vegetables is key to provide all the minerals and vitamins necessary to aid energy production and combat oxidative stress, both from the alkaline balance created by fruits and veggies but also by the ORAC units contained in fruits and veggies. (Once again elevated metabolism= higher rate of cellular metabolism=more oxidative stress=more free radical damage.) You need the alkalinity because increased cellular metabolism produces a higher acid load on the body as well as most beverages consumed by people that contain caffeine or stimulants are highly acidic themselves. Finally it's good to consume a few herbs that are proven to relax and calm and help restore your adrenal function and CNS. These include passion flower and rhodiola.

While coffee will probably be the death of western civilization, especially for those who can't make it through the day without joining the mile long line at Tim Horton's, there is increasing evidence that coffee does contain high levels of antioxidants. As famed coach Charles Poliquin puts it, "Coffee is likely the only bitter herb most people will ever consume with any regularity therefore if it means they will get the antioxidant benefit from it , that makes it somewhat worthwhile." This is because bitter herbs are higher in antioxidants than sweet herbs. Coffee has also been noted to boost exercise performance thus boosting fat loss and it increases insulin sensitivity.

So if you are going to caffeinate or stimulate here are my recommendations:

1) Limit yourself to less than 3 cups of coffee or tea per day. Any more than this and you already have a significant addiction to stimulants and your adrenal system is likely already burned out.

2) Use herbal forms of caffeine as much as possible because they are gentler on your body and have less potential for upregulation (constantly increasing doses). For example most people understand tea is better than coffee. Also try things like yerba mate, ma huang, brazilian cocoa, guarana, etc. One of the best natural stimulants you can purchase is Xooma Worldwide's AM Formula (www.xoomaworldwide.com/dynamite).

3) Consume plenty of mineral and antioxidant rich fruits and veggies.

4) Consume alkaline and electrolyte rich beverages such as Xooma Worldwide's Xtreme X2O.

5) Consume high ORAC containing foods or when in doubt a few shots of MonaVie Active (www.drinkitfree.com)

6) Avoid taking Red Bull or any other popular beverages like it. The fact that you are not supposed to consume more that 2 cans a day tells you right a way that is is destroying your body. Furthermore it is loaded with sugar and acid. Products like this are a sure recipe for adrenal burnout .

7) Also consume micronutrients known for boosting natural energy production. Such as blue green algae, chlorella, and spirulina. Available in HTN's Adult Superfood (www.gohtn.com/solutions).

8)Consume plenty of water again, 500ml for every 250mg of caffeine consumed. This is above and beyond your normal water consumption. Also see point #4.

9) If you are well rested and eating healthy all day, every day you shouldn't need much of a boost or at least not as frequently as most North Americans consume coffee.

10) Oh, and if you think you are doing yourself a favour by consuming decaffeinated teas or coffees think again. Not only is the decaffeination process extremely carcinogenic, it also destroys the few beneficial quality's of these foods. Either drink coffee strictly for the stimulatory benefits or not at all but don't make it a pleasure treat. In addition, if coffee is your primary source of stimilant then try to use only organic coffee as coffee ranks as one of the 5 highest crops for being sprayed with pesticides leaving you with a toxic brew.

So inconclusion, if you must have a cup of coffee hear or there it won't hurt; but make sure you are protecting yourself.

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