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Published by: api-3797564 on Oct 17, 2008
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The Truth About Caffeine
How many of you here consider yourself caffeine addicts? How much coffeedo you drink a day? One cup? Two cups? More? How about caffeinatedsodas?Caffeine is pervasive in our society these days and every few months wehear about how a study has shown that it is bad for us or good for us. Whatare we to believe? Today I'd like to give you some of the facts about caffeine and its effects onyour body. It may not cause you to change your coffee consumption but atleast you'll be better informed about what you are putting into your body.I'm going to talk about the beneficial effects of caffeine, the negative effectsand discuss what are considered safe levels of caffeine consumption.Let's start with the good news. Caffeine, which comes from the leaves, seedsand fruits of about 63 different plants, is well known as a stimulant. That'swhy people drink it, right?Caffeine does help you wake up and feel more alert and it has been shown toincrease attention spans. This is a beneficial effect for people who are drivinglong distances and for people who are doing tedious work. Calling this ahealth benefit may be stretching it, though staying awake while you aredriving a car is definitely a benefit to your well-being!Caffeine also contains antioxidants which have been shown to have cancerprevention qualities. The negative effects of caffeine are largely dependent on how much youconsume.When consumed in small quantities like, for example when you have one cupof coffee or one soda, caffeine can cause your heart rate to increase, youurinate more which can cause dehydration, and your digestive systemproduces more acid.In larger amounts, caffeine can cause you to have headaches, feel restlessand nervous, be unable to sleep, and even, in very large quantities to havehallucinations.(Don't try that at home!) When larger amounts of caffeine(over 600 mg per day) are used over long periods of time you can developsleep problems, get depressed and have problems with your digestivesystem.According to a Medline article on the National Institutes of Health website,having caffeine in your diet is not of any benefit to your health but moderateconsumption is also not considered harmful. They say that having up to 3 eight ounce cups of coffee a day or 250 mg of caffeine is considered (quote) "average or moderate". 10 cups of coffee aday is considered excessive. Also, remember that the amount of caffeine percup can vary greatly depending on the type of beans that are used and thestrength of the brew.
Most sodas with caffeine, unless they are specially enhanced like "Jolt" orsomething like that, have about 35 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces so you don'thave to worry too much unless you are drinking several 2 liter bottles perday. Also, the effect of caffeine on you personally will depend on a number of factors like your weight, general health, mood and personal sensitivity tocaffeine. You can see that caffeine can have both positive and negative effects on ourhealth and well-being but the bottom line is that if you drink your coffee orsodas in moderation, you don't have to worry too much.So, the next time you are wondering whether you should have that secondcup of coffee to perk you up, relax. At least now you know what it is and isn'tdoing to you!
Ever See A Liger?
An episode of the edgy, humorous, and often line-crossing show South Parkhad the four young main animated characters singing the song "Pig andelephant DNA just won't splice" after a visit to the South Park GeneticEngineering Ranch. Unfortunately, this is how much of the country thinksabout hybrid animals.When most people hear the term "hybrid animal," they often think of odd,mutant creatures - hippopotamuses mixed with lions, dogs mixed with cats,or squirrels mixed with porcupines. Indeed, the word hybrid invokes theimagination and encourages one to entertain these improbable combinationsas miracles of science.However, the phrase "hybrid animal" merely means a crossbreeding of twoanimals - a process which has occurred for centuries, both artificially andnaturally. The idea of hybrids dates back to the mythology of ancient times. Folk taleswere full of animal-human hybrid stories like mermaids and minotaurs. Theword hybrid comes from the Ancient Greek, meaning "son of outrageousconduct." But understanding hybrid animals lies both in nature and science.Hybridization has been occurring in nature for thousands of years. Diaries of early hunters in the northwestern territories tell of shooting bears that werelarge and off-white with hairy paws, suggesting hybrids of kodiak and polarbears. Recent DNA studies confirmed this is possible. The mixing of animals that are closely related happens naturally more thanyou might think. In fact, scientists have recently identified a number of hybrid zones, or places where animal hybridization is most likely to occurbased on a number of different factors. These hybrid animals are far moreimportant to nature than you might think. Evolutionary biology studies showthat the fittest animals survive, no matter whether they are hybrids or not,and while some are simply not genetically compatible in terms of survival,many others are.A few examples of naturally occurring hybrid animals include the whitetail/mule deer, some Galapagos Finches, and the European Red Deer andChinese Sika Deer. Noted evolutionary expert Charles Darwin evencommented on animal hybridization. "Many species have bred in variousmenageries . . . Strange as the fact may appear, many animals . . . unite withdistinct species and produce hybrids quite as freely as, or even more freelythan, with their own species."Science, as well as nature though, has created some of its own hybrids forvarious purposes. Take, for instance, the mule - a cross between a femalehorse and a male donkey, which has existed since Ancient Roman times. Forcenturies, mules have been used as a means of transportation and labor.Even today, their sure-footedness makes them one of the best animals to

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