Posts Tagged ‘caffeine’

A few weeks ago, I ran into a colleague and asked, “Hello, how are you?” My colleague enthusiastically responded, “I’m great!”

This response caught me off guard. It was not what I expected. I was used to hearing tired and busy. To be honest that was the response I was used to replying with as well.

Have you noticed how tired and busy are becoming a common response when asked how are you doing? I understand it. Those two words rule my routines some days. How can we move past tired and busy?

It’s possible that a medical condition may be contributing to your tired. Allergies, depression, sleep apnea, low iron, thyroid issues and more can increase fatigue. If a possible health condition is causing your fatigue, extra sleep or exercise may not be the answer. A conversation with your family doctor can rule this out and help you make the changes you need personally.

Looking at your sleep health and hygiene may help reduce your tired. According to Harvard University, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Nearly 50% of Americans get less than the recommended amount. When sleep is reduced or cut short our bodies don’t have time to complete what is needed and the result is that we wake up unprepared for the day.

Coffee, sodas, and energy drinks are often the first line of defense to combat tired, but these common solutions may be contributing to feeling tired. Caffeine is a stimulant but can have an opposite effect. Studies show that while some energy drinks may increase alertness for several hours, participants were often more tired the following day. Too much caffeine can contribute to insomnia or make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine is also known to increase anxiety, nervousness, stress levels, and jitteriness. Studies have shown that it is safe for most people when consumed in low to moderate amounts.

Can the way we look at things contribute to our “tired and busy”? I think so! For example,

instead of looking at a long to-do list as something you HAVE to do consider the perspective that you GET to. Look carefully at your list. What are you busy with? Sincerely, the answer to “busy” may be doing less. It is hard to slow down when there are a million things to accomplish. A long critical look at a calendar and to-do list can be influential in what to keep and what can go. A slowdown may also be the answer in the way you do things. Slowing down could mean being present, and being mindful of whatever you are doing at that moment.

In addition to examining my schedule and lifestyle, I promised myself that I would focus on a positive aspect of my life when responding to the question, “How are you?” 

I probably will be tired or busy every time someone asks me that question, but shifting my focus when responding will help me. Will you join me in responding with something besides tired or busy when asked how you are doing?  

MedlinePlus. (2019, April 30). Caffeine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

Phillips, D. T. (2016, April 27). Slow down to get ahead. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/slow-down-to-get-ahead/

Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How much sleep do we really need. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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Image result for energy drinks

Energy drinks have transitioned from being a niche product to one of the fastest growing beverage choices in the world. In 2017, the global energy drink market generated $55 billion, and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.7% from 2018-2023. However, as the number of beverages sold increases daily, so do health concerns.

Energy drinks are different from sports drinks in that they add stimulants like caffeine and herbal supplements such as guarana and bitter orange. Unfortunately, as athletes and non-athletes find themselves revved up and energized from that drink, they come to rely on them more and more for the energy high. As one’s tolerance for caffeine ratchets up to higher levels, drinks are consumed more often, or are replaced by drinks that provide even higher levels of caffeine.

Caffeine is a strong and potentially dangerous stimulant, particularly for children and adolescents. It is produced in the leaves and seeds of plants. It can also be made artificially and added to foods or drinks.  Caffeine is classified as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system, causing a temporary energy boost, mood elevation, and increased alertness. It can be helpful for people who need a “pop” of energy to keep them on their toes, at least for a couple of hours. It works by blocking adenosine, a chemical in the body that tells you to shut down when you are tired.

Caffeine is found naturally in coffee, tea, and chocolate. It is added to soft drinks and energy drinks.  Caffeine is considered safe in moderate amounts.  For an adult, 200-300 milligrams is considered average.  Teens should consume no more than 100 milligrams per day and kids should get even less. What happens if you are consuming too much?

According to the Mayo Clinic, energy drinks can put you at risk for the following:

  • restlessness, irritability, and/or anxiety
  • increased blood pressure
  • dehydration
  • weight gain
  • insomnia
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • panic attacks
  • increased PMS symptoms

Excessive consumption of energy drinks may also cause the following:

  • manic episodes
  • seizures
  • chest pain
  • heart attack
  • sudden cardiac death
  • bone loss

Why the concern?

Over the last decade, the number of ER visits related to energy drink consumption doubled. In 2017 alone, 20,000+ trips to the ER were attributed to energy drink consumption. Ingesting large amounts of caffeine can cause problems such as heart rhythm disturbances, increased heart rate and blood pressure, heart palpitations, anxiety, sleep problems, digestive problems, and dehydration.

Bottom Line:

Consumers need to educate themselves and their families on the dangers associated with energy drinks. Adults perceive them as healthy beverage options for themselves and their children, but children have not had the luxury of time to build up a tolerance for caffeine.

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu








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power up your salad

Choose colorful vegetables and greens for a nutritious meal.  Lettuce and greens vary in levels of nutrients.  Although paler lettuces, such as iceberg, have some nutritional value, it’s best to choose the deeper, brighter ones – these contain the cancer-fighting antioxidants. Mix and match a variety of colors and textures, such as crunchy romaine tossed with soft, nutrient rich spinach leaves or peppery arugula leaves and add red leaf lettuce.   Spinach contains almost twice the amount of iron of most other greens and is an essential source of nitric oxide which helps dilate the arteries and deliver oxygen.  Arugula is rich in cancer fighting phytochemicals.

Add in tomatoes which are loaded with lycopene- great for your skin and bones.  Black beans, chickpeas or a hard-boiled egg all are good sources of lean protein.  Toss in carrots (great source of beta-carotene and Vitamin C) and artichokes, which aids in digestion.

Add fruits in season, mixed berries, oranges, apples or pears.  Toss with a healthy option salad dressing that is high in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fat.  Olive oil and vinegar may be a simple tasteful choice.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD,  Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,  stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires RD, LD, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu





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Walk into any convenience store, and you’ll see a wide variety of energy drinks to choose from. In recent years, news reports have brought attention to some of the consequences of their overuse. Some of these reports document emergency room visits related to mixing energy drinks and alcohol or teens having heart palpitations and dizziness. Some high schools around the nation have banned these products because so many students were “wired” on caffeine and many becoming ill. Are energy drinks as popular and as dangerous as the media portrays them to be? A factsheet from the University of California Cooperative Extension service explores the facts behind these popular products.

  • The term energy drink refers to beverages that contain caffeine in combination with other ingredients such as taurine, guarana, and B vitamins purported to supply consumers with extra energy.
  • Limited research suggests that energy drinks can improve physical and mental performance, improve driving ability when tired, and decrease mental fatigue after long periods of concentration. However, researchers do not know if these improvements are due to caffeine, herbal ingredients, or a combination of both.
  • An 8 ounce serving of energy drink can contain anywhere from 80 to 150 mg of caffeine. The caffeine content is more than that of sodas (22-46 mg per 8 oz serving) but more comparable to tea (48 to 175 mg per 8 oz serving) and brewed coffee (134-240 mg per 8 oz serving). The problem is that most cans contain 2-3 servings, often raising the caffeine intake to over 300 mg per can! Assuming that an adolescent consumes 3 cans per day, caffeine intake can easily exceed over 900 mg (comparable to 9 cups of coffee!)
  • Research has suggested that 400 mg or more of caffeine per day can result in nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms, decreased bone levels, and upset stomach.
  • Herbs such as guarana and ginseng can enhance the effects of caffeine. Guarana actually contains caffeine and adds to the total amount. Many of the herbs added to the energy drinks do not have the research based evidence to back up their functional claims.
  • Mixing alcohol and energy drinks can be a dangerous combination. Individuals on this mix are more alert but just as intoxicated. In addition, caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics, increasing the likelihood of dehydration and cardiovascular problems.
  • A study in the Journal of College Health suggests that energy drink consumption is associated with risk taking behavior such as unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence. Researchers point out that the findings don’t mean the drinks cause the behaviors, rather over consumption should be a red flag for parents that their children might be more likely to take risks.
  • A study of 78 youth (11-18 years) found that 42.3% of participants consumed energy drinks.
  • Although some beverages are sugar-free, in many the sugar content is comparable to soft drinks (30 g per 8 oz serving). However, since cans often contain 2-3 servings, sugar content could be as high as 90 g per can (equivalent to about 22.5 teaspoons of sugar)! Considering the high rates of obesity, this is another reason to moderate consumption.

Source: Nutrition and Health Info Sheet, produced by Karrie Heneman, and Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, Nutrition Science Specialist, Cooperative Extension, University of California- Davis at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8265.pdf

Writer: Dan Remley, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator

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Shift Workers

Good nutrition is important for everyone but for shift workers, healthy eating is vital to feeling your best, both on and off the job and for maintaining your mental, spiritual and physical health. Eating during shift work often requires a change in the type of foods chosen and the timing of meals.

If you work shifts, you probably experience more gastrointestinal problems, ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite and heartburn. Dehydration, another common problem, can cause headaches, dry skin and nasal irritation, making you more susceptible to colds, coughs, sore throats and the flu.
There is evidence that shift work can lead to stomach disorders, nutritional deficiencies, irregular appetite and weight gain or loss. There also seems to be a link between shift work and heart disease and cancer.

Some reasons for these problems include:
• Too much caffeine intake to stay awake
• High-fat snacking instead of eating meals
• Eating infrequently during the day, then over-eating during the evening
• Eating when digestion and other body functions are slowed down
• Eating meals in a rush, often without the company of family and friends
• Sedentary jobs and lack of opportunities to exercise

It is critical for shift workers to establish regular eating times. Skipping meals can result in fatigue, increased snacking, increased eating at the next meal, or even less overall food intake. Snacks can play an important part of a healthy eating pattern and are especially important during long shifts.

What to eat
• Pack food to take to work to avoid vending machines and take-out fast foods.
• Be sure each meal is balanced with protein, starch, vegetables and fruit.
• Taper off liquids as you near the end of your night shift.
• Place some crackers by your bed in case you wake up hungry during the day.

When to eat
• Try to avoid eating a large meal before work.
• Eat small, nutritionally balanced snacks throughout the shift.
• Eat the largest meal of the day when you wake up.
• Eat as little as possible — and avoid fatty foods entirely — toward the end of your shift.

The right food at the right time:

protein food
• Consume protein foods when it is necessary to stay awake, carbohydrate foods when it is necessary to sleep.

To promote sleep after completing their shift, workers may benefit from a high carbohydrate meal. Foods high in carbohydrates increase levels of serotonin, which promotes sleep. Cereal, bread/bagels, crackers or fruit are good high carbohydrate snacks.

To stay alert, shift workers may turn to protein foods. Protein foods have the opposite effect of carbohydrates and decrease serotonin levels. A high protein meal can make you feel more alert; so, it is important to include protein foods in meals and snacks during your shift. Food choices might include low fat cheese or meat, peanut butter, or hard-boiled eggs in sandwiches or with low fat crackers.

• When working afternoon and evening shifts, eat the main meal at midday instead of during the middle of the shift.
• When working night shift, the first main meal during waking hours should be late afternoon or early evening. After completing a night shift, a moderate snack will prevent going to bed hungry or too full.


Drink caffeinated beverages before your shift or early into it. Don’t have caffeine after midnight; it stays in your body for 6-8 hours. Limit caffeine to no more than 400 mg. a day (about 2 cups of coffee). Excessive caffeine may cause insomnia, headaches, anxiety, among other disorders.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/workschedules/

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2006/It-Can-Be-a-Hard-Days-Night-For-Weight-Watchers-on-the-Late-Shift.aspx
WebMD.com: http://blogs.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/2009/12/shift-worker-alert-curb-the-caffeine.html

Writer: Kathryn K. Dodrill, MA, CFCS, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County/Buckeye Hills EERA, dodrill.10@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, LD, MA, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County/Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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According to the January 10, 2013 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) the number of emergency room visits involving Energy Drinks more than doubled from 10,068 visits in the year 2007 to 20,783 in 2011.

This report also identified that there are more male patients than female patients, and that visits doubled for both male and females. Energy drinks are flavored beverages containing high amounts of caffeine.  The amount of caffeine varies from energy drink to energy drink. Ranging from about 80 milligrams (mg) to more than 500 (mg), compared to 100 mg in a 5 ounce cup of coffee or 50 mg in a 12 ounce cola.

The report states, “Consumption of energy drinks is a rising public health problem because medical and behavioral consequences can result from excessive caffeine intake.”   It also indicated that there is a “growing body of scientific evidence” showing harmful health effects of energy drinks. In particular with children, however, new findings suggest that older adults may be at risk as well. “The safety of these products among adults who take medications or have medical conditions has been questioned.”

Energy drinks are not the only beverages on the rise in America. Americans are also drinking more soft drinks than ever. Per capita soft drink consumption has increased almost 500 percent over the past 50 years. There is enough regular soda produced annually to supply every American with more than 14 ounces of soda every day for a year. One reason for the steady rise in soft drink consumption is larger portion sizes; fountain drinks can range in size from 22 to 64 ounces. Children start drinking soda at a remarkably young age, and consumption increases through young adulthood.

photo (4) (2)

Choosing healthy beverages is a great first step to an overall healthy diet. Try these tips to help you and your family have a healthier diet.

  • Help children learn to enjoy water as the thirst quencher of choice.
  • Make soft drinks a “sometimes” beverage to be enjoyed in moderate amounts. Remember that soft drinks include fruitades, fruit drinks, lemonade, energy drinks, sweet tea, and sports drinks.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for easy access.
  • Add lemon, lime, other fruit, or a splash of juice to water.photo (5) (2)

Reviewed by:  Heidi Phillips, B.S, Program Assistant, FCS, Wood County Extension.

For a complete copy of the report:



Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for

Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (January 10, 2013). The DAWN

Report: Update on Emergency Department Visits Invo



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Are you ready for your morning coffee? With more than 80 percent of American adults consuming cacoffeeffeine on a regular basis, does caffeine really do harm to our bodies? That may depend upon amounts. Two to four cups of brewed coffee a day usually isn’t a problem for most people.

Caffeine may help in these situations:

• Mental stimulation – People who don’t have a dependence on caffeine or don’t use it regularly can become “significantly more alert and better able to perform cognitive and motor  tasks if given the right dose.” For regular users it offers few benefits in this area. What people think of as stimulating and good actually is due to the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms.

• Lack of Sleep – Caffeine can help you stay more alert when you are sleep deprived. However, you can build up a tolerance to caffeine so for regular users an extra boost is usually needed.

• Headaches – Caffeine acts as a mild pain reliever. It also constricts your blood vessels which can help since usually they dilate when you have a headache.

• Physical Performance – Caffeine can help you during an endurance exercise like running but is less effective for activities such as lifting weights or sprinting. This can be true for both regular users and non-users. Since caffeine also helps reduce pain you may exercise longer.

• Parkinson’s Disease – Studies have concluded that higher caffeine usage seems to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. Caffeine may help Parkinson’s patients with tremors or other motor symptoms. Again tolerance seems to negate long-term help.

• Gallstones – Studies show drinking two or three cups of regular coffee a day reduced the risk of gallstones for women 20 percent and for men 40 percent.

• Dementia – Caffeine may provide some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. More studies are needed.

Caffeine may hurt in these situations:

• Pregnancy – Women trying to get pregnant or already pregnant should avoid caffeine –containing foods and drugs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Caffeine can cause harmful effects on fertility, miscarriage, and fetal growth.

• Disrupted Sleep – Caffeine can affect your sleep or ability to fall asleep for up to 13 hours later.

• If you drink more than 4 cups a day you can experience these unpleasant effects: insomnia, restlessness, irritability, nervousness, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors. • Beware that some medications and herbal supplements can interact with caffeine. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Caffeine- Lack of effectsWeight scale

• Weight – There is no evidence that caffeine helps people lose or keep weight off, although many weight-loss supplements contain caffeine.

• Heart – A 30 year study in California didn’t find an increase in risk of cardiac arrhythmias among regular coffee drinkers.

• High Blood Pressure – Although caffeine can cause a modest increase in blood pressure, studies have not showed an increase in the development of hypertension among caffeine coffee drinkers.

Caffeine may be a part of your daily routine. As long as it doesn’t cause any problems for you… Enjoy!

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension , Fayette County, Miami Valley EERA brinkman.93@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management; Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Mayo Clinic Staff, [2011]. Caffeine: How Much is too Much? Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/NU00600

Schardt, D. [2012]. Caffeine! Nutrition Action Health Letter, December 2012, 39 (10), 7-8.

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As the weather is getting warmer and nicer outside, summer cleaning and yard work are on the to do list. It is exrtremely important to pay attention to your body if you have had a relatively sedentary winter and spring.  Dehydration can occur when as little as 3% body weight is lost in fluids and results in an emergency medical situation. Listen to your body when it says it is tired. Do not push yourself too far and risk injury. To make the most ouf of time, and to treat your body the right way, follow these fluida and food guidelines.

If you are performing strenous activity, regardless if inside or outside, it is important to stay hydrated. With mild hydration, symptoms may include headaches, light headedness, fatigue and of course thirst.  The main way to present deyhydration is to treat it before it even begins. Before you start any yard work, make sure you have a glass of water even if you are not thirsty. This will ensure your body starts with an adequate amount of fluids and can afford to lose some through sweat. If you are in a hot or humid environment, remember to drink fluid at least every 30 minutes or less to maintain your fluid levels.  The longer you are being physically active, the more this is important. You may only neeed one cup per hour, but it depends upon how much you are sweating and how hot/humid it is.  It may be hard to remember to drink something, but make it a priority to stop for a couple seconds and have a sip of your drink. After you finish your cleaning projects, try to have some more fluids to replace any that you lost. Just about any beverage can be used including water, lemonade, or sports drinks. Try to avoid any drinks with caffeine. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and increases fluid loss through the urine.

Beyond fluids, energy is needed to perform work. Try to have a nice meal before you begin working to provide your body with calories. A light meal can be used to prevent any stomach or GI problems. It just needs to have some carbohydrates (your main source of energy) and a little protein to repair your muscles. If you will be physically active for more than one hour, it may be necessary to have a snack while you work. This can be very small and can be as little as 100 calories or less. Some snack ideas are a granola bar, string cheese, yogurt, crackers and peanut butter or a piece of fruit. This snack will give your body some extra calories so you don’t fatigue as fast.

The best way to be prepared for your summer cleaning is to fuel up before you begin. Ensuring you are at adequate fluid levels, and have eaten within the last couple hours will help you to last longer. Also, don’t force yourself too far. It is the beginning of a long summer and you don’t need to start with an injury. By listening to your body, you can prevent dehydration, have more energy for your muscles and prevent injuries.

Writter: Susan Zies, Ohio State Univeristy Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Wood County.

Information gathered from:

Mayo Clinic. (August 2, 2011). Dehydration: Symptoms. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/DS00561/DSECTION=symptoms

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You may have seen the newest information on coffee on the news in the past week – that drinking coffee may actually cut the depression risk for women. I admit I received health email updates on it and even got a message from my favorite local coffee shop promoting the benefit. So I thought others might be like me and wondering if this was something that can be trusted, or just the latest quack thing, so here is what I found.

The research was done by Harvard University on over 50,000 women as part of the Nurses’ Health Study, which is one of the largest health studies done on women in the United States. The results showed that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day showed a 15% lower risk of depression, and those who drank four cups per day had a 20% lower risk. Keep in mind that this study should be replicated before we truly advocate the coffee consumption and depression link, but if you are already a coffee drinker – this may be a positive piece.

Other studies have also shown a link between the consumption of coffee and other positives in our health such as:

  • A reduced risk for type 2 diabetes with drinking caffeinated coffee.
  • A lower risk of prostate cancer and the most deadly type of prostate cancer for men who drank higher amounts of coffee.
  • A reduced risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer among those who were regular coffee consumers.
  • A lower risk of Parkinson ’s disease with higher consumption of coffee.

So what are the possible negatives for coffee and your health? Most of the research I found was linked to caffeine and a negative health consequence, not precisely coffee consumption. There is research linking caffeine and gout attacks, as well as heart burn. And the obvious link between caffeine and insomnia. Remember that caffeine from a cup of joe can stay in your system for up to 6 hours, so you probably want to switch to decaffeinated or avoid it all together after about 5:00 PM. There is also a great deal of
research linking larger caffeine consumption and pregnancy issues – so discuss this with your health professional.

My conclusion after looking at the new research and coffee consumption was that it does have some positive effects and a couple cups, earlier in the day could provide some health benefits.


Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/

Web MD, http://www.webmd.com/

JNCI, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org

Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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