Kate Morland, Nutritionist
Caffeine is naturally found in plants although the commonly known sources are coffee, cocoa beans and tea leaves. Being a natural stimulant, caffeine has received some bad press.
Caffeine is a natural occurring stimulant found in a wide range of plant species, the most commonly known ones being tea leaves, coffee beans and cocoa beans. It is a natural stimulant that acts to lift the mood, enhance your perception of fatigue and increase alertness.
Caffeine has received a lot of attention in the sporting world, namely as a supplement for athletes to stimulate increase performance and reduced mental and physical fatigue. The optimal dose, timing and source however are subject to conflicting evidence.
The effects of caffeine on people vary considerably between individuals. Some people are responders and may symptoms such as headaches, impaired sleep tremors and increased heart rate. On the other hand, others may be non-responders where these symptoms are rarely or never experienced.
Major dietary sources of caffeine include tea, coffee, cola, chocolate, cola and energy drinks. It is personal choice whether you decide to substitute caffeinated drinks for non-caffeinated. Currently the Ministry of Health recommends women who are pregnant or breastfeeding limit their intake of tea/coffee to less than six cups per day (or three ‘single’ expresso or one ‘double’ expresso-type coffee). The same guidelines apply for the general adult population. Caffeine-free alternatives, such as herbal teas may or may not contain stimulating herbs so do check the ingredient list to ensure you are choosing an appropriate one for an appropriate situation. Herbal and fruit teas can have beneficial effects on digestion and aiding sleep to name a few conditions that people commonly complain about