Coffee and tea are good sources of antioxidants but they are also a source of caffeine. Tea however has a much lower caffeine content than coffee but the latter is more popular. Do you know that coffee is the most popular drink in the world? - two billions cups are drunk every day.
Even pregnant women drink coffee. Experts agree that less than 300mg. of caffeine can be safe for pregnant women - that's 2 to 4 cups of coffee. More than that amount can be hazardous for the baby and some researchers associate it with birth defects and miscarriages to name some ill effects. Other studies however found no association with these maladies.
The popularity of coffee rose because of the 'energy lift' it gives. It's true that caffeine can boost your energy because it increases your heart beat and activates the cortisol hormone in your body making you feel stronger, heightens your senses and makes you feel more alert.
Normally, the cortisol hormone is activated only in times of stress when you need a temporary boost to keep up with the demands of a situation. If you ingest caffeine, your body reacts the way it reacts when you get 'stressed' and it lasts as long as the caffeine is in your blood. It's not natural and it strains the hormones which is not beneficial in the long run.
The half-life of caffeine for pregnant women is longer and longer still for the fetus. Caffeine can enter the fetus through the placenta. Since the fetus is still growing - the organs are not fully functioning therefore eliminating the caffeine takes longer. Caffeine in a newborn can have a half-life of up to 30 hours. Whatever the chemical reactions of caffeine to your body, the fetus also gets.
Caffeine can also be transmitted to a nursing child through the breast milk.
Pregnant women should be aware that the safe level for caffeine is about 2 to 4 cups of coffee and 6 to 8 cups of tea spread throughout the day - not in succession. If you eat or drink other caffeine sources like sodas, chocolates, medicines - you should cut down your coffee or tea consumption so as not to exceed the safe level.
Choosing decaffeinated coffee or tea may limit your caffeine intake to a large degree but residues of the chemicals used to take off the caffeine may have other effects for your body. Decaffeinating tea can be done without chemicals and which you can do right in your own home - it could take out the caffeine content of tea up to 80%. The lesser the caffeine content, the more coffee or tea you can drink without arriving to the safe level and at the same time get more of the beneficial antioxidants.
Even if pregnant women does not consume more than the safe level, I feel that they should cut their caffeine intake for the sake of the child in their womb. It would be best to give the child a healthy head start!
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