Reduce your caffeine intake by moving to herbal tea


CAFFEINE

Caffeine is an incredible addictive substance. For this reason, it is pretty hard to give up your regular Costa or Starbucks.

coffee and herbal tea

EFFECTS OF CAFFEINE

But more than two average cups of coffee a day are incredibly difficult for the body to process. It starts to affect the central nervous system, leaving you with the shakes, it upsets your metabolic balance mimicking the way that sugar causes spikes in the body and it is also a toxin for your system. 

mama tea herbal tea

HERBAL TEA

Compare that to herbal tea. For a start, it contains no caffeine as all herbal tea as completely caffeine-free. It also often contains herbs that are actually good for you, like chamomile and liquorice. All of the above complaints about caffeine hidden in your daily coffee fix are just not present in a warm cup of herbal tea.

MAMA TEA

Reason enough to swop one of your cups of coffee to a lovely cup of Mama Tea herbal tea! DRINK MAMA TEA, we say!

mama tea herbal tea

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Caffeine and Pregnancy – the threat of Miscarriage and why you should go caffeine-free


Why is Caffeine so bad for Pregnancy?

When I started Mama Tea, it came from an idea I had during my pregnancy. I had struggled to come “off the bean” and forgo caffeine before getting pregnant and in-between pregnancies but I managed it during my pregnancies by drinking lots of herbal teas. However, the problem was that a lot of herbal teas just didn’t taste very good, hence my business idea for Mama Tea. I also suffered three miscarriages in-be-tween having my two children, so I believe the information below is important reading for any ladies who sadly have gone through the same terrible heartache.

Caffeine and Pregnancy

So, if you are pregnant, can you still drink coffee or not? Some of the evidence is a little contradictory or rather it doesn’t present the whole picture. Whilst the NHS advises pregnant women to limit caffeine during pregnancy, stating that  “You don’t need to cut caffeine out completely, but you should limit how much you have to no more than 200mg a day“.  The Food Standards Agency states “Pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to 200mg a day” and also states that tea and coffee manufacturers do not have to state the amount of caffeine in their products. Interestingly the British Coffee Association also has a section on Pregnancy . They quote the Royal College of Midwives – “There is no definitive evidence to show that caffeine in moderation has any adverse effects during pregnancy”.  They do list some studies OTHER than ones like the ones I have listed below, which seem to support this advice, which is fine but doesn’t seem to be the whole picture to me.

I think there are two main problems with this advice: first of all, it is what this advice DOESN’T tell you that is worrying.

Caffeine and Miscarriage

Miscarriage is one of the most devastating things that can happen. It is awful. If you are a pregnant women who has suffered previous miscarriages, you want to do everything and anything you can to prevent it happening again. The medical advice is often you cannot do anything to prevent it which I do believe. However, if I had known about the undernoted information before I suffered my miscarriages, then I would never have gone near caffeine the whole time I was trying to get pregnant. The advice above is FAILING the many women who sadly suffer such a sad event and loss. So little is known about miscarriage but if we know these facts, then we should act on them. These women need to know these facts and they are facts. These are all medical studies that have been proven and are listed in Stephen Cherniske’s brilliant book, “Caffeine Blues”:-

The simple fact is that the developing fetus cannot process caffeine in the same way that an adult can, which means that the caffeine is extremely toxic. It is simply not worth the risk. Much as I loved my cappuccinos, it simply wasn’t worth it but no-one warned me. The information simply wasn’t there.

Measuring consumption of caffeine during pregnancy

The second problem with this advice is that it is really hard to measure the amount of caffeine that you drink (and eat) in one day. What is “moderation” as indicated above? Is the 200mgs a day ok? If you have drunk a lot of caffeine BEFORE pregnancy, this amount seems to be below 163 mgs (see note above). Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, decaffeinated tea and coffee, green tea, cocoa, soft drinks, medications and chocolate. Most coffee shops automatically serve double shots of coffee in cappuccinos and lattes and as shown in this article by the Telegraph, some cups of coffee on the high street have as much as six times their rival chains! Those involved in the caffeine industry do NOT have to list the amount of caffeine in their products. Why not? It is a highly addictive drug that can be very harmful to pregnant women and their developing babies. I love the odd cappuccino like everyone else but at least force the industry to give us an informed choice.

Is it time to change the advice?

The summary seems to be that this is not as cut and dried as stick to the 200mgs a day and you will be ok. It is much more complicated than that, as we have seen above. If we now know that there is a definite link between caffeine and miscarriage then why do organizations like the British Coffee Association and the Royal College of Midwives not include this information as a “full picture”, so that a pregnant woman can make her up her own mind? If you go over the “2-3 cups” or if you have had miscarriages before, or indeed if you have drunk a lot of caffeine BEFORE pregnancy, the advice above is simply not correct and could be downright dangerous. Why can’t the advice be to avoid the caffeine if you are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or have suffered a miscarriage and are trying again rather than take the risk? If I was having a Dan Brown moment, I would suspect that it might not be in the interests of the “caffeine industry” to do so…..

I fully recommend the following book to anyone who is interested in reading more about caffeine and its health implications: “Caffeine Blues” by Stephen Cherniske, M.S. .

If you have suffered a miscarriage or are threatening miscarriage, please go to The Miscarriage Association  for support and advice and a special prayer to you.

Take care

Anna Louise Simpson
CEO and Founder of Mama Tea

3 reasons that Caffeine affects Women more than Men……..


Introduction

I am a woman. And I drink caffeine. I am also the Mama of Mama Tea, therefore I drink a LOT of Mama Tea herbal tea. Accordingly, my caffeine intake has gone down substantially, however I now experience more noticeable effects of drinking my regular Starbucks/Costa/Caffe Nero coffee. I get flushed, hot, clammy, and my heart races. I suffer headaches and feel a bit jittery. As a result, I only drink one cup of coffee a day. However, I thought it would be interesting to look at a few of the facts about caffeine and women.

Caffeine affects women more than men.

Wow – really?? I hear you ask. Well, you might be surprised to find out that “roughly, 75% of the human research into caffeine has been conducted on men”  – {p225 – “Caffeine Blues” by Stephen Cherniske}.

Research shows that caffeine affects women much more than men. Why?

Reason 1 – Slower detoxification

Women detoxify caffeine much slower than men per se. However due to the fluctuations of hormones during a woman’s cycle, the “HALF-LIFE” of coffee (i.e. the time it takes the body to eliminate one half-dose of a dose of coffee) can change, varying from 5.5 hours to 7 hours depending on the stage of the cycle {M.J.Arnauld. “Metabolism of Caffeine and Other Components of Coffee” in “Caffeine, Coffee & Health”}. 

All of this means that by the time you are hitting your second or third cup, your body still has not recovered from the first cup. if you want to detox, try cutting down your coffees as the first step!

Reason 2 – Caffeine zaps your iron levels

Caffeine reduces your iron levels. The reason why this is so important for women is that women often suffer from iron malnourishment. Up to 30% of women will suffer anemia until they stop menstruating, just because it is so difficult to get iron from food. {L. Hallberg, “Iron” in “Present Knowledge in Nutrition”, 5th ed.}.

“Depending on the composition of a meal, a caffeinated beverage can reduce iron availability by a whopping 50 percent” {p235 “Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske}. 

That’s a lot!

Reason 3 – Caffeine makes you stressed

Stress generally affects women much more than men – women’s stress hormones increase more rapidly than men’s when faced with conflict. {J. Ferri, “Under Pressure”} 

What does caffeine have to do with this? Well, caffeine increases the “Stress Response”. Caffeine has numerous effects on the body. One of these is is that it disrupts the function of the “ADENOSINE RECEPTORS”. 

What on earth does this mean? Well, Stephen Cherniske sums it up better than I could:

“Have you ever inserted the wrong key in a door and found that the key fits just fine but it wouldn’t unlock the door? That’s what caffeine does in a adenosine receptor. It fits, but does not perform the adenosine function……when caffeine plugs an adenosine receptor, an important biochemical message that was supposed to be sent to the cell is not delivered…….When caffeine inactivates this control mechanism, your neurone circuits keep firing, and you feel alert. The problem is, your circuits keep firing, and firing, and firing……”

This uncontrolled neuron firing creates an EMERGENCY RESPONSE in the brain – it activates the whole flight-or-fight flight stress reaction, flooding the brain with the stress hormones. And it keeps on doing it, over and over!

Combine this with the fact that women suffer stress more acutely and you can see that this fact alone is a reason for women to wean themselves off more than your one cappuccino a day!

How much Caffeine is in your Coffee?


Do you know how much caffeine is in your coffee? Did you know that it varies wildly depending which coffee shop you go to? Scientists at Glasgow University carried out a snap shot study of caffeine levels in espressos sold in high street coffee shops in Glasgow. The wide variety of levels gives an indication that as a consumer we have no way of knowing how much caffeine we are consuming when we purchase one of these drinks.

Espresso Dual-Wall Glass - 75ml

The Figures

Here’s a list of five of the better known coffee shops where samples were taken and the caffeine levels found in a single shot of espresso;

The study identifies factors that could have an effect on the level of caffeine in the coffee such as the quantity of ground coffee used for making the espresso, the grind, the temperature of the water and the beans.

These results are for a single shot of espresso, many coffees we buy from high street coffee shops will be made with two, three or even four shots of espresso. Starbucks have recently announced their intention to start putting a double shot of espresso in tall lattes and cappucinos, the customer will now be getting over 100mg of caffeine in a standard drink.

Other Drinks

So what are the caffeine levels in other beverages?

  • Current guidelines suggest that in a 225ml mug of instant coffee there is 60-85mg
  • A standard can of Coca Cola has 35mg and Diet Coke 45mg
  • 225ml mug of decaf filter coffee has about 6mg
  • Red Bull has 80mg and other energy drinks go as high as 300mg per can/bottle

These figures are all taken from www.energyfiend.com. There are many factors influencing the caffeine content of tea, including brew time and temperature of water, making it difficult to put a figure on the caffeine levels.

 The Conclusion

The reality is most of us have no idea how much caffeine we are consuming and the wide variety of caffeine levels in drinks purchased from coffee shops make it very difficult to even try and monitor our intake. So whilst you may think you’re only drinking one or two cups of coffee a day, depending where you buy it, how it is made and size, your one cup could be equivalent to another person’s four cups in terms of caffeine.


What is Caffeine?


We hear a lot about caffeine content of drinks and how bad it is for us but what is it?

The Science Bit

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant called trimethylxanthine, chemical formula C8H10N4O2. In its pure form it is a white crystalline powder that tastes bitter. It was first isolated as pure caffeine in 1819 by a German Chemist called Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, and Emil Fischer derived the structural formula of the compound in 1897 (Fischer was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1902, his work on caffeine was part of the work that won the award).

In Your Body

Scientists measure drugs by their “half-life”; this is the time it takes the body to break down half of the dose. In the case of caffeine the “half-life” varies dramatically from one person to another and can be anything from 3 hours to 12 hours depending on age, general health, metabolic rate and weight. On average caffeine is absorbed by the small intestine within 45 minutes of ingestion and then distributed throughout all the tissues of your body, the central nervous system is stimulated and peak blood concentration is reached within an hour. Everyone will react differently to this and to different degrees but the common affects are to ward off drowsiness, reduce physical fatigue and increase alertness.

History of Caffeine & Humans


Have you had your coffee yet today? Many of us have a love-hate relationship with caffeine; we love the taste and effects of a really good cup of coffee but hate the way we feel if we don’t have it or if we have too much of it. This is the first in a series of articles exploring our relationship with caffeine beginning with the history of caffeine and humans. We commonly consume caffeine by infusions extracted from the seed of the coffee plant or leaves of a tea bush and through products derived from cocoa beans and kola nuts.

Tea

The first recorded consumption of caffeine is reputed to be Emperor Shen Nung in around 2700 BC who drank a hot drink brewed from leaves of a tea bush. Whether this is true or not, tea drinking was certainly established in China many centuries before the West; tea containers have been found in tombs dating from the Han Dynasty (206 – 220 AD) and in the late eighth century the first book was written entirely about tea. Tea was introduced to Europe at the end of the sixteenth century and in 1606 the Dutch imported the first commercial consignment of tea from China. From Holland it spread through Europe, where it was fondly adopted in Britain and Ireland, and across to America.

Coffee

Legend has it that Ethiopian Nomads discovered coffee through observing that when their goats ate the fruit of the coffee plant they would have an energy boost, they then ate some and found they too had a boost of energy. Legend aside, coffee beans come from Ethiopia and the first reliable record of coffee drinking is in the Sufi monasteries in the Yemen in the mid fifteenth century. It is then traced as spreading across Egypt and North Africa and into the Middle East, Turkey and Persia by the sixteenth century, the first coffee house opened in Istanbul in 1554. An early writer on coffee noted in 1587 that one Sheikh said of coffee “it drove away fatigue and lethargy, and brought to the body a certain sprightliness and vigour”. Coffee drinking then moved into Italy, with the first European coffee house opening in Venice in 1645, and the rest of Europe followed.

Cocoa

Cocoa originates in South America and was first used by the Mayans to create a beverage with water, vanilla, black pepper and spices. The cocoa beans were also used as currency by South American civilisations and only consumed as they wore out, apparently you could buy a horse for ten beans. The Spanish introduced cocoa to Europe in the mid seventeenth century and from there it has spread around the globe.

Kola

Kola nuts are native to the tropical rainforests of Africa, the tree it comes from is related to cocoa. Kola nuts are chewed by West African cultures to ease hunger pangs and restore vitality. In the 1800s a pharmicist in Georgia took extracts of a Kola nut, sugar, carbonated water and other ingredients to produce the world’s first cola drink “Coca-Cola”. Since then Kola has been the source of caffeine in many soft drinks.