Nutrition

Caffeine – How Much Should You Consume?

Many of us always say we need coffee or caffeine in order to start our day. Some may even require more than a cup of coffee in a day. We do not normally see caffeine as something dangerous because it is so commonly used but consuming a lot of it can be quite harmful. Exactly how much caffeine is considered as too much then?

Caffeine is found in many consumable products. They are most commonly found in coffee, cola, and energy drinks. Consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine is considered a safe amount and will not cause potential health dangers. 400 mg of caffeine is equivalent to 4 cups of coffee or 10 cans of coca-cola, which is a lot in a day! Although the maximum for a healthy dose of caffeine is that high, some individuals are sensitive to caffeine and experience side effects such as faster heart beats, headaches, insomnia, and becoming a little jittery. A moderate amount of caffeine to consume in a day would be 300 mg.

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We drink caffeinated beverages because we have to stay focus and awake enough to perform our daily activities, whether it is heading to work or school. However, as we continue to rely on caffeine, a cycle will form and our new routine will be having caffeinated drinks in the morning to start our day. There could be an underlying reason as to why so many individuals have caffeinated beverages. One most known reason is the fact adults do not receive the recommended hours of sleep every night due to work and this can highly affect a person’s performance during the day. Most adults need seven hours of sleep to fully function during daytime without the consumption of caffeine. Drinking caffeinated drinks can cause people to stay awake longer than required and this can shorten their sleep time which can affect the body and its health.

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Overall, consuming moderate amounts of caffeine is safe and most likely would not be a health problem but there are always the exceptional cases.

Eating Organically

Eating organically is a hot topic in discussions of food and healthy eating. How much do we actually know about organic foods, and how does it affect our body and our health?

Defining organic foods concerns the way that crops are grown and how livestock are raised. Livestock are given organic feed with no growth hormones, and have access to the outdoors. For organic produce, farmers avoid using synthetic pesticides, genetic engineering (GMOs), and turn to natural pesticides and fertilizers, with methods reducing pollution and water usage [1]. The food must follow the Canadian Organic Standards in order to have the organic label.

It is debatable whether the levels of pesticides and GMOs in non-organic foods are harmful. It was suggested to cause headaches, nausea, allergen problems and even cancer [2]. However, the studies are still unclear on the effects of pesticides. Apples are generally seen as having one of the highest levels of pesticides compared to other produce. Yet, according to one study, even when buying non-organic apples, “a woman would need to eat 529 servings of apples in a day to reach an unsafe level [3].” As for nutritional levels, many studies have shown no difference between organic and non-organic, and even when studies do find changes in nutritional levels, the small differences are unlikely to impact our health.

Many opt to go organic for ethical and environmental purposes. It helps support the local farmers that deliver fresher produce to your grocery. The use of natural fertilizers that do not contaminate the soil and water, the less transportation required, and its friendliness to the local ecosystem also make it a viable choice for the environmentally-friendly folk. Additionally, since organic produce do not have the waxy covering to protect them from spoiling, they are usually fresher than non-organic counterparts.

The costs of growing organic food does mean that their prices are usually higher. If you want to start eating organic while balancing costs, buy produce in-season, or attend local farmers’ markets, which usually has organic foods at a discounted price. If you decide to buy non-organic produce, it is recommended to wash it with water to remove traces of pesticides, soil, or residue. The Environmental Working Groups develops a yearly list of produce that contain the least and the most amount of pesticides. It is most helpful to buy apples, strawberries, tomatoes, grapes, etc., organically, as they have comparatively high amounts of pesticides, while buying non-organic corn, avocados, and onions would be fine if you want to save on cost. If you can afford it, consider buying organic meats, dairy, and eggs, as the unnatural diet of livestock raised non-organically can include growth hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, and even some drugs.

Possibly the most important thing is to stay knowledgeable about the process of organic foods. Organic does not always mean healthier, so pay attention to the labels. And whether or not you buy organically or non-organically, stick with a healthy diet and your body will thank you!