London: Every day seems to deliver a new story about caffeine. One day it’s good for you, the next it’s to be avoided. But a recent large scale study suggests not only do coffee and caffeine give us an ‘energy boost’, they also benefit our health.
The British Medical Journal published an umbrella review that showed the health benefits of caffeine and coffee far outweighed the risks.
Natural Homemade Energy Drink
The optimum health benefits of caffeine come from about 3-4 cups a day, according to a piece by Healthista’s Anna Magee.
Natural VS synthetic caffeine:
The ideal amount of caffeine per serve is around 80mg, says Rick Hay, lecturer in nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine. This is the amount found in a typical 250ml energy drink, which means that unlike coffee, you always know what amount of caffeine you are getting by looking on the label.
But the downside of most caffeine-laced energy drinks is that the caffeine is artificially produced and comes with a load of other ingredients that are not so good for you; like high sugars or artificial sweeteners So how can you get controlled caffeine that is naturally sourced?
While the caffeine found in coffee, tea, and chocolate is naturally occurring, that found in most energy drinks is produced synthetically in a lab.
According to a spokesperson for Red Bull, this is to ensure quality: ‘Ingredients in Red Bull Energy Drink such as taurine, caffeine, and vitamins are synthetically produced to ensure high and consistent quality. The fact that ingredients are produced synthetically results in consistent high quality and safety.’
But some experts argue that synthetically produced caffeine can be problematic to the body because it’s removed from the way in which it naturally occurred.
Certainly, when the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently ruled that caffeine supplements sold to consumers in liquid or tablet form were unlawful, they were referring to the synthetically produced variety, not caffeine in its natural state.
Indeed, according to the Decadent Decaf website. The process of creating synthetic caffeine is a chemical from start to finish.
‘Synthetic caffeine starts with ammonia which is then converted to urea (a synthetic version of a compound found in mammals’ urine), combined with chloroacetic acid to produce a compound called uracil. ‘In turn, the uracil is processed and converted to theophylline to which is added methyl chloride to produce the final product: methylated theophylline – otherwise known as synthetic caffeine’.
Natural caffeine = natural energy minus the crash
‘Synthetic caffeine found in energy drinks and painkillers along with soft drinks and pre-workout formulas is produced in a lab without the accompanying phytonutrients and antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that substances such as coffee, green and black tea as well as guarana contain naturally alongside it,’ says Mr. Hay.
Synthetic caffeine therefore can mean a quicker lift than natural, but also a quicker crash. Green tea and green coffee on the other hand are both based on leaves and beans picked in their young states, Mr. Hay points out. ‘This results in a more subtle, slow-release of natural caffeine to the body.’