For A Holiday Energy Boost, Grab A Cup Of Coffee Or Tea

By redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Between venturing out into crowded malls for the perfect gifts, preparing succulent feasts for visiting family and just getting ready for the holidays in general, this can be an exhausting time of the year – and if you find yourself reaching for a caffeinated beverage for a little extra energy, that’s okay, according to one expert.

“Caffeine definitely has a valuable function,” explains Roberta Anding, a registered dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. “Its job is to be a stimulant, to make you more alert and focused. A lot of us could use a little bit of a pick-me-up, especially during the holidays.”

Of course, Anding warns that a person should choose wisely when it comes to selecting a caffeinated drink. She recommends sticking to good old-fashioned coffee or tea, as both are plant based foods that also have other health benefits. For instance, the polyphenol compounds they contained have been associated with a decreased risk of liver cancer and diabetes.

Anding also emphasizes limiting yourself to one or two cups, as drinking more coffee or tea than that could result in adverse health effects such as nausea or heart palpitations. She also suggests skipping fancy coffees or teas that could be prepared using whole milk, whipped cream or flavored syrups.

Go for the low-fat versions, Anding advises, and pass on energy drinks altogether. Those beverages contain far more caffeine than a regular cup of coffee or tea, and also contain ingredients whose effects when ingested together have not yet been fully studied.

“My preference would be unsweetened tea with lemon or honey as a natural sweetener. Turn to that for your energy drink and you’ll get the combination of good nutrition and the desired caffeine,” she said.

Anding also noted that, based on American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children should never be allowed to consume energy drinks. In addition, she points out that since energy drinks are supplements, they are not actually regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“If it says supplement, I say stay away but if there is a nutritional panel, you can have more confidence about the quality and effect of the ingredients,” she said, adding that these high-caffeine beverages could actually interact with some types of medication, even if they claim to be all-natural.

Anding also emphasizes that it is important to maintain a healthy diet and to continue regularly exercising to help maintain your energy levels during the tiring holiday season. Both overeating and under-eating can cause a person to feel tired, and it is not recommended that a person skip meals in order to limit calories, as the resulting hunger could make that individual more prone to overeating.

It is also important to eat the right kinds of food during the holidays, Anding said. She recommends making sure that each meal contains a protein source and a fiber source, in order to keep your energy levels up and keep you feeling full in-between meals.

“Sugary treats are everywhere during the holidays but many of these contain high glycemic index carbohydrates, which increase fatigue,” she said. “Good sustained energy snacks include a small handful of nuts, hummus and whole grain crackers or Greek yogurt with berries or crushed nuts.”