Guest Contribution by Steve O’Dell
Caffeine. It’s not good for us…
…or so we thought.
Caffeine tends to be one of those issues that get highly debated without there ever being a conclusive answer. Why is that?
Some people claim that caffeine makes them anxious and prevents them from sitting still, while others feel little to no effect. This is important because here’s the deal with caffeine: it all depends on how you’re getting it.
The effect of caffeine in soda is not the same as caffeine in coffee, and both are totally different from the way caffeine will influence a matcha tea drinker. All 3 of these drinks are made up of completely different ingredients. Ever notice how quickly you burn out when you drink soda? Sodas are much like sports drinks in that they contain loads of sugar. They are great for when you need a quick boost of energy, but that energy is short-lived. With the aggressive combination of sugar and caffeine working in unison, that energy surge goes away just as quickly as it came on. This has a lot to do with the sugar involved.
Coffee, on the other hand, contains a lot of caffeine on its own. Morning coffee drinkers complain that they feel jittery by lunchtime. It is important to realize how caffeine works when left to its own devices. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that when you consume large amounts of it in the morning, there’s a strong possibility you may feel dehydrated later in the day. That’s why it’s imperative that you balance out your coffee intake with an equal amount of water.
Tea is the exception when it comes to caffeine. People who drink matcha tea are much more energized throughout the day than their coffee and soda drinking peers. Matcha tea is unique in that it contains powerful ingredients that bring out the power of caffeine in the best way possible. Matcha tea comes packed with something called l-theanine and, while it sounds pretty scientific, is just a naturally-occurring compound that helps reduce stress, increase focus and lower heart rate.
On paper, it seems that the effects of caffeine and l-theanine would contradict each other, but the end result is actually the complete opposite. When combined, the end result is something of a superpower. Caffeine in green tea is absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower pace so that you have an energy boost just like you would with coffee. The difference is that the energy you get from green tea lasts longer because of the introduction of l-theanine. When the l-theanine kicks in, your mind will be able to relax and focus on what’s important. The caffeine will still be there so that you have the energy necessary to take on the day.
Is there really such a thing as too much caffeine? Like anything, caffeine should be taken in some form of moderation. If it wasn’t safe, caffeine would not be on the FDA’s list of “safe” substances. It generally comes down to how you get your caffeine. The way your body reacts to large amounts of caffeine in soda or coffee will be different from the way it will react to the caffeine in matcha tea. And it’s important to keep in mind that it is naturally-occurring. Even decaffeinated teas still contain small amounts of caffeine. The next time you take a sip of your favorite green tea, take a moment to appreciate the most natural ingredients working together to do their job.