For many of us a jolt of java provides a more upbeat morning. This is an illusion. All our morning brew really does is stop the withdrawl symptoms that started in our sleep. Even one cup a day drinkers will experience these as headache, irritability, lack of focus and fatigue. For heavier users caffeine withdrawl can be crazy making, according to the October 2004 issue of Psychopharmacology. After review of 66 studies spanning over 170 years, it was concluded that the more severe forms of caffeine withdrawal merit classification as a psychiatric disorder. So should we stay on the brew for life to avoid this? Not so. This only happens to one in eight people, with the disorder peaking between days two and nine. Even for these unfortunate folks this short-term madness is worth it. The benefits of being caffeine free include improved sleep and increased energy.
Caffeine is sneaky. It worms its way into painkillers, colas, tea and chocolate. The healthiest source of caffeine is tea, which has half that of brewed coffee. BBC Health estimates that the average UK resident will consume 80,000 cups of tea during their life. Despite its caffeine this is a boon rather than a bother. Though much research focuses on the health benefits of green tea, in many ways black tea is comparable. English Breakfast and Earl Grey are examples of black tea. Both types are filled with antioxidants. These protect our cells and have been studied for their cancer preventing effects.
A 1998 study at the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine in Beijing found that people at risk for mouth cancer who were given black tea for six months were slower to actually develop the disease than those who abstained. More recently the United States Department of Agriculture tested the effect of black tea on cholesterol. The six-week study tested healthy individuals who drank five cups of black tea daily and an equal amount that unknowingly drank fake tea. The results, published in the 2003 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, showed that the tea drinker's LDL cholesterol dropped between 7 and 11 percent.
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