Abuja – Miss Yemisi Olowookere, a Nutritionist at the Garki Hospital, Abuja, on Thursday advised Nigerians on the moderate intake of coffee, saying its dangers outweighed its benefits.
Olowokere told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that a small amount of caffeine may have positive effects like boosting energy and alertness.
According to her, caffeine can be found in some drinks such as coffee, tea, cola drinks, energy drinks, chocolate bars and chocolate drinks.
“If you have moderate to high levels of caffeine, you can build up a tolerance. This means you will need more caffeine to give you the same effects.
“Also, if you have a high caffeine level, you may feel withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, anxiety and irritability if you stop having caffeine.
“In large amounts, it can make you feel nervous, restless and make sleeping well harder,’’ the nutritionist said.
She said that caffeine was a stimulant that worked on the brain and the nervous system, adding that caffeine ould affect people differently and it depended on the amount of intake.
Olowookere said that researchers were also looking at the potential adverse effects of caffeine on the heart and bone health as well as behaviour, cancer risk and fertility.
“For coffee drinkers, the real issue we are concerned about is if you have trouble sleeping, one needs to cut down on your caffeine.
“If one is agitated or a person has high blood pressure, it is advisable to cut back on caffeine intake.
“If an individual is stressed or has symptoms that can be related to caffeine, then maybe such an individual needs to reduce intake,’’ she said.
According to the nutritionist, there are assumptions that decaffeinated means that there is no caffeine in the food or beverage, which, she says is untrue.
“Decaffeinating happens through a process. Decaffeinating coffee usually consists of soaking the beans in water to dissolve the caffeine, extracting the caffeine with a solvent or activated carbon.
“Then re-soaking the beans in the decaffeinated water to reabsorb the flavour compounds that were lost in the initial extract.
“Depending on how much you consume in a day, you can end up consuming more caffeine from decaffeinated drinks than you would in one cup of coffee,’’ she said.
The nutritionist explained that one could not know the exact level of caffeine consumed per day but one should put a limit on the total amount of caffeinated and decaffeinated products consumed.
“You can also choose products with lower caffeine contents but one needs to make sure to check the serving size on the can, bottle, and so on.
“When you wake up in the morning, drink eight ounces of water instead of coffee. It is believed that this will counteract your desire for other less healthy beverages,’’ Olowookere said. (NAN)