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Caffeinated vs. Decaf: Which is Better?

Jan 21, 2010

For most of us, a cup of coffee in the morning is a ritual and something we feel we need to have before we can properly start our day. The main reason for this is, of course, caffeine. There are other reasons, but this is the most prevalent because caffeine gives us a boost to help us wake up and get going out the door. Some people don't want the caffeine and they drink decaffeinated coffee, if they drink coffee at all. But which is better for you?

Caffeine Side Effects

Caffeine's main side effect is increased alertness and energy, but there are other benefits as well as negative aspects to it. One benefit is assistance in pain killing, as caffeine has been shown to help boost the effectiveness of over the counter pain killers by as much as 40%. This is why you find them in migraine pain relievers. Caffeine has also been found to aid in reducing the risk of contracting the following conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Colon Cancer
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Cavities

Regular caffeine intake has shown, in different studies, to reduce the chance of getting Parkinson's disease by as much as 80%.

If you are an athlete, caffeine is a definite boost for your performance, endurance and mental activity. Caffeine, as a pain killer assistant, also aids in the treatment of sore muscles which occur after working out or being engaged in any other type of athletic activity.

The main drawbacks to caffeine are addiction and overuse. Caffeine is addictive and for those of us who have to have a cup of coffee in the morning, we know how we feel if we don't have enough caffeine. Withdrawal from caffeine includes headaches, bad mood and a loss of focus.

Decaf Effects

the expression "naturally decaffeinated" is a bit of a misnomer. If something normally has caffeine it in, there is nothing natural about the removal of the caffeine, nor is the removal ever complete. There is always some caffeine left over after the process. If something is decaffeinated, an ingredient of that process is formaldehyde and, as we all know, that is not something you really want to consume on a regular basis. Naturally decaffeinated may simplY mean it was not done with harsh chemicals but, you would have to contact the manufacturer for that information.

The main difference between drinking decaf items as opposed to those with caffeine in them is the lessened effects of the caffeine. You still get some caffeine in your system from any decaf item but it is a much, much smaller amount. That is really the main difference between the two.

Which Is Better?

The answer is not that simple. For those who are allergic to caffeine or have definite heart problems, decaf is the best choice despite there being a little bit of caffeine still in it. For those who don't have those problems, it could go either way and becomes personal choice. For those who lead a very active lifestyle with a lot of physical activity, caffeine is a wonderful thing to have in moderation.

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