The (Caffeine) Grind – Dietitian Guest Blog

Hello everyone, we are very lucky today to have a special guest blogger, my friend and fellow dietitian Natalia. Natalia is currently employed at Red Bull Canada and is pretty much a caffeine expert.

I know how much everyone out there loves their coffee and caffeine, and there is so much misinformation out there about it, so I brought in the best to give us an objective account of all things caffeine. 

Let’s take a look at what she has to say!

The (Caffeine) Grind
Natalia Kot, MHSc, RD

Firstly, let me just say I’m honoured to be @AndytheRD’s first RD guest blogger and appreciate him allowing me to get down to the caffeine grind for all of his loyal followers.

Whether it’s a cold-brew coffee, matcha tea, latte, soda, energy drink or that piece of chocolate – caffeine is an ingredient that has found a place in our everyday routine!

What is it anyway?

Caffeine is a bitter alkaloid found naturally in the leaves and seeds of more than 60 plants worldwide (think tea leaves, cacao and coffee beans, kola nuts, yerba mate, and guarana). Caffeine can also be synthetically produced and added to food products such as soft drinks, energy drinks, dietary supplements, and medications. 

I know what you’re thinking – natural is better… right? Truth is caffeine whether natural or synthetic is chemically identical and your body does not recognize the difference – so no matter where it’s coming from, caffeine has the same effect.

What does it do?

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which controls most functions of the body and mind.  It has been known to improve mental alertness and reduce perception of fatigue – making it one of the most popular “pick-me-ups” in the world!

Caffeine’s stimulating effects on the body have also been found with its use in sport – helping most athletes to exercise at optimal intensity for longer (Position of Dietitians of Canada, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, & The American College of Sports Nutrition; Feb 2016).

But – as is usually the case – moderation is key! Most caffeine lovers, and those that are caffeine-sensitive, would be familiar with some of the less positive effects of consuming too much caffeine – disrupted sleep, anxiety, headaches, and irritability may be experienced.

What do Health Authorities say about daily intake?

Health Canada considers 400 mg of caffeine per day from all sources to be a safe, moderate amount that can be consumed daily for the general healthy adult population. This amount has also been confirmed by other health authorities around the world including the US FDA, cited in their 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), cited in their 2015 Comprehensive Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine.

However, when it comes to caffeine-sensitive individuals (including those with existing medical conditions) and pregnant or breastfeeding women*, caffeine consumption should be monitored and these populations should consult with their medical practitioners for specific advice.  

Check out the resources listed at the end of this article or consult your coffee shop’s nutrition facts section online for common caffeine contents!

*Health Canada considers 300 mg of caffeine daily to be a safe amount for pregnant and breastfeeding women to consume.

Does caffeine dehydrate?

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine concluded caffeinated beverages are NOT dehydrating and can count toward your total daily water intake. How’s that for myth busting? 

Getting Down to the (Caffeine) Grind 

Caffeine is not an essential nutrient – but it is a personal and learned part of our everyday lives. You may encounter caffeine in multiple foods (coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks) throughout the day so it’s important to monitor your overall consumption. Turn to your nutrition expert, @AndytheRD for advice on how to use caffeine in sport! 

Helpful Caffeine Resources:

http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Caffeine/Food-Sources-of-Caffeine.aspx 

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/corporate_publications/files/efsaexplainscaffeine150527.pdf

Natalia Kot, Product Communications Manager for Red Bull Canada

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