- Created on 03 December 2013
The FDA says it's taking a fresh look at caffeinated food and plans to hone in on how energy drinks impact young people.
Editor's note: upwave is Turner Broadcasting's new lifestyle brand designed to entertain the health into you! Visit upwave.com for more information and follow upwave on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram @upwave.
(upwave) -- The rumor: It's possible to get caffeine poisoning
As he was driving down an Ohio freeway minutes after swallowing five Magnum 357 caffeine pills, Christian Brenner started to vibrate -- and the cars in his rearview mirror did as well. Fortunately, Brenner pulled over and walked around in an effort to try and come down.
Today, he swears off caffeine, even coffee -- the mental aftereffect of what he says was straight-up caffeine poisoning.
upwave: Is coffee bad for you?
The verdict: Yes, you can OD on caffeine. The trick is to know your body, pay attention to what else you've ingested and do your homework on energy drinks
Caffeine acts as a stimulant in humans. It can be found in the seeds, leaves and fruit of plants like coffee or kola nuts.
"Safe doses of caffeine are usually quoted at around 200 to 300 milligrams, or two to four cups of coffee per day," says Dr. David Seres, associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University.
There have been plenty of reports that say caffeine is beneficial. Some studies call it a potential protector from diseases such as Parkinson's, and even some forms of cancer.
upwave: Can coffee help you live longer?
But those 357 Magnum Pills that Brenner ate contain 200 milligrams of caffeine each, which means he downed around 1,000 milligrams of caffeine in one big literal gulp.
Take note: Energy drinks like Red Bull usually contain around 80 milligrams of caffeine in an eight-ounce can. Some of the bigger cans (such as a 16-ounce Monster) have up to 240 milligrams. Meanwhile, a 16-ounce cup of coffee (think a venti at Starbucks) packs upwards of 300 milligrams.
Barbara Crouch, executive director at the Utah Poison Control Center, says that unlike coffee drinkers, energy drink consumers (especially young people) like to chug down not just one, but two or three of the peppy beverages to get a good jolt on before a hardcore workout, soccer practice or maybe to enhance a night of dancing.
"When you pound down more than one energy drink verses sipping a cup of coffee, you're not metabolizing it the same way," she says, adding that factors like size, age, sex, drug interactions, hydration levels and the amount of food in the stomach can mean different outcomes for different people when on a caffeine binge. "Yes, there is absolutely such a thing as caffeine poisoning, and the dose essentially makes the poison," she says.
upwave: Are sports drinks healthy?
But Crouch has a bigger bone to pick with the makers of energy drinks: She says that many of them aren't being fully forthcoming about ingredients. Seres points out that many "natural" additives -- such as guarana, taurine and so-called "Siberian ginseng" -- haven't been fully tested.
"Energy drinks contain other 'natural' ingredients, which may have additional amounts of caffeine," says Seres. "They're also likely to contain herbs with stimulatory effects not tested for safety or interactions with prescription drugs, and other potentially pharmacologically active substances."
But James Coughlin, a food, nutritional, chemical and toxicology safety expert in Los Angeles who consults for the American Beverage Association (the industry group that represents energy drink companies), disputes that.
"The caffeine contained in the guarana of an energy drink is only around one milligram, versus the 80 milligrams of synthetic caffeine added by a beverage company such as Red Bull," he says. "The lethal dose of caffeine is 10 to 20 grams of pure powder caffeine, so if you were going to try and kill yourself with caffeine, you'd probably drown in the liquid first if you did it with coffee -- and even more so with an energy drink."
upwave: Caffeine addiction -- quitting cold turkey
Coughlin calls the very idea that beverage companies are sneaking caffeine into energy drinks through other ingredients a total myth.
Still, it'd be hard to deny headlines claiming that there have been increased energy drink-related visits to emergency rooms. One highly cited 2011 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stated that energy drink-related emergency-department visits went from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011.
All the press about energy drinks led the Federal Drug Administration to say it's taking a fresh look at caffeinated food -- and that it plans to hone in on how energy drinks impact young people.
"We are contracting with the Institute of Medicine to conduct a public meeting to obtain additional scientific information and expert input on caffeine and are actively reaching out to the food industry and health care practitioners to discuss concerns about caffeine in conventional foods and dietary supplements," says FDA spokesperson Teresa Eisenman.
upwave: Do energy supplements really work?
Crouch, however, cautions that people should monitor caffeine intake from other sources as well.
"So you have that cup of coffee, but lo and behold you decide to get an extra-dark bar of chocolate," she says. "Or you drink a soda. Or maybe you do take an allergy pill or a dietary supplement." Truth be told, sometimes people miss the fine print on labels about stimulant properties in all these products.
This article was originally published on upwave.com
- Created on 02 December 2013
Photo by Zave Smith via Getty Images
The holiday season is the time to focus on what's truly important: Spending quality time with friends and family, being thankful for all the blessings in your life, and showing how much you care by giving of yourself. But after being bombarded with commercials and marketing messages galore, it can be easy to forget what it is that makes the holidays special. After all, pressures to give, give, give and receive, receive, receive, only add fuel to the fire of materialism. Check out these reasons why it may be better to take the focus off of material comforts this season -- and turn it back on what really matters.
1. It makes bad things that happen feel even worse.
To read the rest of this story, click here.
- Created on 02 December 2013
Do you weigh more than you did ten years ago, or even five years ago? The extra pounds snuck up on you, accumulated gradually before you even realized it, and now you’re looking at some serious extra poundage. But that’s to be expected as you get older, right?
Putting on excess weight is very common for a number of reasons, but it’s not necessarily an inevitable part of the aging process — as it could put your health at risk. If you understand why you tend to gain weight more easily as you get older, you can do something about it before it becomes a problem for your health.
You can blame a lot of your weight gain on your metabolism. Beginning as early as your mid-twenties, body fat begins to increase while muscle mass decreases. And less muscle mass translates into a slower metabolic rate. Muscle mass decreases from about 45 percent of your total body weight in your youth to about 27 percent by the time you reach...
- Created on 27 November 2013
Photo by CNN
Middle schooler Katarina Lucardie didn't expect to see her classmates cry when she decided to show them her big secret.
She was bald and didn't know how to tell her peers. But after teaming up with her teachers, the Colorado Springs, Colorado, student helped make a documentary about why she has no hair. Now she is the face of bravery for her classmates.
It all started after Katarina wrote a letter to her school counselor: "I have a disease and it makes me lose my hair," she wrote.
The 11-year-old was born with alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin disease that results in hair loss on the scalp and other places on the body.
The condition affects 2% of Americans, both male and female, according to the National Institutes of Health. People with alopecia generally start losing hair in their youth, which was the case for Katarina. At age 8, she started seeing patches of her hair on the floor of the tub after taking showers and on her pillow after getting out of bed.
With no real cure available, Katarina went completely bald at 9.
She sported a medium-length black wig throughout much of elementary school, but after graduating, she approached her mom and said she wanted to stop wearing it in middle school.
She said the wig irritated her scalp, especially during gym activities, and she felt hot while wearing it. But most importantly, Katarina says, she just wanted to be herself around her friends.
"I was fearful she was going to get picked on. She was picked on a little in elementary school," said her mother, Carmela Aranda.
She had seen students questioning Katarina about her condition, asking her why she was losing her hair and whether she was sick.
Aranda was nervous that by not wearing the wig to her new middle school, Katarina would be subjecting herself to bullying and ridicule.
Bullying was something Aranda was all too familiar with.
After a high fever and ear infection, she lost her hearing at the age of 1 and grew up as the only deaf girl at her school.
"I grew up in the '70s," she explained. "The kids at school didn't know how to interact with me. They made fun of my voice." It was the kind of experience she didn't want for her daughter.
But Katarina was determined to stop wearing her wig and approached her middle school counselor, Jennicca Mabe, about her condition in private. Mabe had similar concerns that Katarina might get picked on but worked with other teachers and the administration at Skyview Middle School to figure out how to share Katarina's story with the rest of her peers.
With Aranda's blessing, Mabe and other school officials enlisted Katarina's teachers to help create a short documentary about Katarina and what it was like living with alopecia.
"(Mabe) thought that if you educate people and if you tell them about things and you tell them that it isn't contagious, that people won't pick on me," Katarina said.
Katarina's science teacher, Connie Sandel, was one of the participants in the documentary.
"I was a little bit surprised," she said, when she learned that Katarina wanted to tell other students she was bald.
"Most kids don't come forward in middle school and do something like that. In middle school, kids can be a little harsh, and bullying can be a problem. But I wanted to support her in what she wanted to do," Sandel said.
The documentary was screened this month in the school's library for several groups of students, including Katarina's class.
"I was sitting at the back so all these people wouldn't be looking at me," Katarina said. "And I watched everyone, and people were crying, and I felt sorry.
"I knew that maybe the teachers would cry, but I never expected that the kids would cry," she added.
Her mother was also at the screening and had an interpreter translate the film for her. "I cried. I think everyone in the room cried. I knew we made the right decision. The school was really supportive. They didn't have to do this, you know," Aranda said.
After the documentary, Katarina, accompanied by two of her teachers, answered questions from her peers. She also explained to her class that the following week she would not be wearing her wig anymore.
"It was very inspiring," Aranda said. "The kids were really interested, and they asked a lot of questions like 'Does it hurt?' and 'Was your scalp itchy?' "
Many students were surprised by the film and admitted that they never suspected that Katarina wore a wig in the first place. Some students even told Katarina that she looked even better without a wig.
Aranda couldn't help but think of how brave Katarina was, standing in front of her classmates and answering their questions. "She was just determined to do it. She wanted to be herself and not cover up and mask who she was. She was very courageous."
The following week, Katarina came to school with a hat instead of a wig. It's winter in Colorado Springs, and she says her scalp gets cold without something covering it.
Sandel says her students are reacting normally to Katarina without her wig. "I let my first period class ask her questions, and they didn't. Everyone seemed ready to move on," she said.
Looking back at the screening, Katarina is happy with her decision to tell her classmates that she has no hair.
"I want people to like me for me and not what I look like," Katarina said, "because that's how I can find my true friends."