The Dirty Truth About Caffeine

It almost reads like a story from the satirical website The Onion. A U.S. Senator calls for an FDA investigation into… peanut butter.

But don’t laugh. This is dead serious. It points to a growing threat to your health. Because it involves a poison you probably ingest every day… and take for granted.

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Kill You

What’s the most common addiction in America today? Caffeine. We guzzle it in coffee, cola, and energy drinks. We add it to chewing gum, waffles, candy, and all sorts of other foods. You can even buy pure caffeine powder.

And now there’s a caffeinated peanut butter. Yes… peanut butter.

The problem? All that caffeine adds up quickly. And dangerously. Which is why Sen. Charles Schumer asked for the FDA’s help.

An 8-ounce cup of coffee has up to 200 mg of caffeine. Add another 170 mg for a 2-tbs serving of caffeinated peanut butter on toast. That quick breakfast delivers up to 370 mg of caffeine. And experts say adults shouldn’t have more than 400 mg per day.

Yes, coffee “wakes you up.” It can enhance athletic performance. It may even cut your risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. But this virtually unregulated stimulant drug has a dark side.

A mere 10 grams – about 1/3 of an ounce – can kill you. How much is 10 grams? About the weight of two nickels.

And our caffeine intake seems to be going up. Take energy drinks, for example.

Fake Energy… Real Risks

The introduction of caffeinated energy drinks has packed emergency rooms across the country. The federal government counted 20,783 ER visits linked to energy drinks in 2011 alone!

Add to that the 624 million cups of coffee Americans drink each day. And the tea… the colas and soft drinks… chocolate… plus a growing list of caffeinated products. Like candy, jerky, ice cream, and snack bars.

Many people hit their 400 mg limit before they get to work in the morning.

The irony is that caffeine doesn’t provide any extra energy at all. In fact, it robs your body of energy Here’s how…

Adenosine (AD) is a chemical your body uses to slow itself down. It’s a signal your body is tired and needs rest. As it’s released, it connects to AD receptors in your brain. It’s why you may feel a mid-afternoon “slump.”

Caffeine competes with AD. And it usually wins. It actually connects to AD receptors better than AD does. So it blocks the signal that your body is tired. Caffeine doesn’t give you more energy. It keeps your brain from knowing how tired you really are.

Caffeine stimulates your nervous system. Which explains “the jitters.” And the crash you feel when caffeine wears off. Caffeine just lets you burn your candle at both ends. For a while, anyway.

A caffeine jolt now and then poses little risk. But the more you use, the more you need. And when you don’t get it, you experience withdrawal. Thus, the “caffeine headache” you get when you sleep late on the weekends.

The Pros and Cons of Caffeine

Only a few studies show benefits – like those noted above – from caffeine intake. Most “caffeine” studies are actually studies on coffee. And that’s something quite different.

Coffee contains a lot of different chemicals. Including some powerful antioxidants. So many of the benefits linked to drinking coffee may have nothing to do with caffeine.

In fact, some studies link benefits to both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. In other words, caffeine’s benefits are probably overblown.

Still, unless you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine’s effects, 400 mg a day probably won’t do you any harm. But you’ll be better off getting it from coffee or tea. And skipping the sugar and fat in caffeinated peanut butter.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.

Smith, A., “Hangovers create Steem, a caffeinated peanut butter,” Oct 6, 2015.

“US senator calls on FDA to regulate potentially dangerous caffeinated peanut butter,” Nov 09, 2015.

Olson, S., “Health Benefits Of Caffeine: Brain On Caffeine Has Its Positives And Negatives,” May 20, 2014.

Griffin, L.R., “The Caffeine Advantage,” Feb 4, 2008.

© Copyright 2016 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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