Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize twice, once for his work in the field of chemistry and once for his activism against above-ground nuclear testing.  What I remember him for, however, was his strong advocacy of mega-doses of vitamin C.  This is a shame, because this advocacy of what was termed orthomolecular medicine somewhat sullied his otherwise wonderful reputation.

Linus Paulings Book on Vitamin C

The real shame, however, is that he was on the right track with the wrong molecule.  He even got the letter "c" right.  No, the wonder molecule for health and long life is not ascorbic acid, it is that wondrous molecule known as caffeine.

This is my Theory that is Mine

I have a theory that is supported by a huge amount of circumstantial evidence and tainted with enormous personal bias.  I still think it's true, though.  Here it is (ahem):

  • Observation: Children are boisterous and energetic; some are more so than others.
  • Observation: As I have gotten older, my energy level has dropped significantly.  Nobody could use the word "boisterous" in a description of me except when preceded with "he sure isn't."
  • Observation: When I have a cup of coffee from Starbucks (Venti), I regain my youthful energy.
  • Conclusion: Children have high levels of endogenous caffeine that gives them energy.
  • Conclusion: As I got older, my caffeine levels dropped.
  • Application: Supplementation of coffee (not decaffeinated) is a natural thing that restores things to the way God meant them to be.

I'll have the Double-Paranoid Latte

While my logic is obviously without flaw, it is clear there is a perception that caffeine (especially in it's coffee state) is harmful.  The PR agency that this molecule hired was really pitiful.  Here are some examples of these negative perceptions:

From the Natural News:

Most a.m. coffee drinkers don't realize it, but their morning cups of coffee set their bodies up for a rollercoaster day of highs and lows, only to bottom out at the point of exhaustion. Just a few hours after consumption, when the artificial high dies down, many people may reach for more coffee or something sugary to get another lift, leading to daily fluctuations in energy and alertness, and possibly to eventual chronic adrenal exhaustion.

Chronic adrenal exhaustion?  My adrenal gland feels energized by my double-shot espresso.

The Healthy Diet and Optimal Living blog states:

Caffeine contains one of these protoplasmic poisons called theobromine which is found in cocoa beans of coffee and chocolate. Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant with over eighty percent of the population consuming it. It comes in the form of coffee, chocolate, tea and these all contain substances called methyxanthines.

Caffeine gives us myriad of physical ailments. Caffeine is known to cause birth defects in babies and should be avoided in pregnancy. It also causes enlargement of breast tissues which leads to benign lumps and can even be connected to breast cancer. Avoiding caffeine will help prevent bone disorders as it is shown to cause a loss of calcium in the bones. There are many obvious signs that caffeine is an addictive drug such as headaches, fatigue, tension and depression lasting for many days after with drawing from it. Finally, this drug also promotes the following examples: elevated heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, frequent urination, increased gastric acid secretion (which contributes to indigestion, gastritis, and ulcers), nervousness, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea.

Ew!  Protoplasmic poisons?  Are they poisons made up of protoplasm or are they things that poison our protoplasm?  The truth is that caffeine is a molecule that is in the class of molecule called methylxanthenes.  Theobromine is another methylxanthene that happens to abide in the other nutritional c-containing substance known as chocolate.

The Bunks are Removed

Regarding the birth defects,  here is a common-sense summary from the American Pregnancy Association (which I suppose you can only belong to for 9 months at a time):

Statement: Caffeine causes birth defects in humans.

Facts: Numerous studies on animals have shown that caffeine can cause birth defects, preterm delivery, reduced fertility, and increase the risk of low-birth weight offspring and other reproductive problems. There have not been any conclusive studies done on humans though. It is still better to play it safe when it comes to inconclusive studies.

0715squirrel-with-coffee-cup

Editor's Note:  Beware of Mutant Squirrels

Statement: Caffeine causes infertility.

Facts: Some studies have shown a link between high levels of caffeine consumption and delayed conception.

Statement: Caffeine causes miscarriages.

Facts: A few studies have shown that there may be an increase in miscarriages among women who consume more than 300 mg (three 5 oz. cups of coffee) a day. Other outcomes include preterm labor and low-birth weight babies. Again, it is safer to avoid caffeine as much as possible.

Statement: A pregnant woman should not consume ANY caffeine.

Facts: Experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy. The definition of moderate varies anywhere from 150 mg - 300 mg a day.

I would add that this clearly shows that you should not let any of your pets drink coffee if they are pregnant.  You don't want mutants running around the house.

But Does it make Julienne Fries?

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It turns out, these guys are way off base.  Not only is your protoplasm safe around Juan Valdez, it is actually quite better off.  Here's something from WebMD:

Want a drug that could lower your risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and colon cancer? That could lift your mood and treat headaches? That could lower your risk of cavities?

If it sounds too good to be true, think again.

Coffee, the much maligned but undoubtedly beloved beverage, just made headlines for possibly cutting the risk of the latest disease epidemic, type 2 diabetes. And the real news seems to be that the more you drink, the better.

Hah!  Not only is my protoplasm safe, it seems the ectoplasm, and even endoplasmic reticulum is safe!  The diabetes study actually showed that drinking six or more cups a day decreased a man's risk of diabetes by 54%.  I suspect these guys are burning off all of their abdominal fat by being shaky all the time (although the Parkinson's risk bit makes me think twice).  Dang, six cups would be as good as having a total gym.

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But wait!  There's more!  No, I am not selling Ginsu Knives, there is an even more impressive study for the ladies (who may be feeling left out right now).  US News and World Report gives us the following:

Coffee drinking was not linked to either the lowering or the raising of stroke risk among women who developed high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.

But after considering factors such as cigarette and alcohol consumption, van Dam and his colleagues found that healthy women who consumed two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day had, on average, a 19 percent lower risk for any kind of stroke than did women who drank less than one cup a month. Drinking four or more cups a day lowered risk by 20 percent.

Women who drank five to seven cups of coffee a week were 12 percent less likely to have a stroke than were those who downed just one cup a month, the study found.

The team then zeroed in on the impact tobacco might have on the coffee-stroke link, noting that coffee drinkers are often also smokers.

What they found was striking: Among women who never smoked or had smoked but quit, drinking four or more cups of coffee a day conferred a 43 percent reduced risk for all types of stroke. However, among women with similar coffee habits who also smoked, stroke risk fell by just 3 percent.

That's right ladies, the ground goodness can reduce your stroke risk if you want it to.  You just have to be committed to the cause, drinking at least four cups per day.

I do need to point out that their definition of a "cup of coffee" is not what some of us would use:

coffeecup

So, my java-loving friends, let us raise our mugs for a toast to this beloved bean.  It is truly nectar of the gods.

And believe me, these gods don't have strokes or diabetes!

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PS:  10 points to those who figure out the reason I named the first section as I did.

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