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A Cup of Coffee

With so many cafes sprouting up all over India, Indians are suddenly consuming more coffee than they used to. Is this a healthy trend? 

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is essentially a central nervous system stimulant, and is a mildly addictive drug. It causes your body to release adrenaline, which in turn causes pupils to dilate. Adrenaline further increases your heartbeat for a few minutes, which is not a harmful thing by itself. The liver releases sugar into the bloodstream and you feel energized. Caffeine is a mildly addictive drug. 

Can I drink coffee when I am pregnant?

Yes you can. There is no need to stop drinking coffee when pregnant. A moderate intake (around 2 -3 cups a day) is perfectly harmless. (However, presuming that you add 2 spoons of sugar in your coffee, you are consuming around 6 spoons of sugar with 3 cups of coffee! Needless to say, this will cause a greater weight gain during pregnancy!) Research findings as to whether more than 3 cups of coffee in a day is harmful, is inconsistent. As a result, different doctors make different suggestions. We would encourage you to play safe when pregnant, and don't have more than 2 cups of coffee in a day. After all, caffeine is not present in coffee alone, and you never know in what other forms you are consuming it. 

Does tea contain caffeine?

Yes, tea does contain caffeine. A cup of moderately brewed tea contains around 30% less caffeine than a cup of coffee does.

What soft drinks contain caffeine? 

Soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi contain almost as much caffeine as does a cup of coffee. High energy drinks like Mountain Dew contain more caffeine than Coke. So if you must have two cups of coffee in a day, skip the soft drink and have a juice instead. Soft drinks like Citra and 7 Up contain no caffeine at all. 

What effect will this have on my foetus?

When you consume a cup of coffee, your foetus feels a brief bout of stress, while your heartbeat and metabolism increase. This is equivalent to you running a short distance to catch that bus, and is not harmful for the foetus. However it is important to avoid drinking too much coffee. In addition, caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it prompts your body to lose water through urination. Thus, for every cup of coffee you consume, drink 2 additional glasses of water. If you drink coffee at night, you may have trouble falling asleep. 

Can I have coffee immediately after a meal?

Coffee inhibits the body's ability to absorb certain minerals like iron and calcium, so avoid consuming coffee within one hour of a meal. It's best to have coffee in the evenings, along with a light snack. 

How much caffeine am I taking in, in a day?

A moderate caffeine intake is defined as around 300 mg of caffeine in a day.  Here's how you can find out whether your caffeine intake is moderate or excessive.  

  • Decaffeinated coffees contain negligible amounts of caffeine (5 mg per cup). 
  • Instant coffees contain half the amount of caffeine than espressos (100 mg per cup) or cappuccinos (100 mg per cup) do. 
  • The more brewed the tea leaves, the more caffeine they contain. Heavily brewed and strong teas can contain more caffeine than a cup of cappuccino, while lightly brewed teas can contain around 30 mg of caffeine per cup. 
  • Chocolate contains around 10 to 15 mg of caffeine, while coffee based chocolates contain more. 
  • Pain relievers contain around 30 mg of caffeine. 

Any tips to cut down caffeine consumption?

  1. Switch to decaf coffee. 
  2. Brew the coffee tea leaves for a shorter period. 
  3. Stir the coffee directly into a cup of milk without heating the coffee separately in water. 
  4. Switch to herb teas. Some of them do not contain caffeine. (Read the list of ingredients.)


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