Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 1, 2009

Health Beat: Caffeine

Remember in psychology class when they told you that you’re born with all the neurons you’ll ever get? Not too long ago, scientists discovered that the brain is able to repair and regenerate some small pieces, but that it’s at a much slower rate with brain cells than with other cells in the body. This discovery has started a domino effect with new studies. Recent research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison did a test involving cats. When fed a certain diet, the cats developed movement disorders, vision loss and paralysis. When the cats had their myelin restored (think myelin sheaths and axons) the cats were eventually able to recover. This is huge news for research revolving around multiple sclerosis because it suggests remyelination, the regeneration of myelin sheaths, may lead to recovery from acute neurological disorders.

Many athletes have known for years what scientists are now dangerously sharing with the public: caffeine helps reduce pain during exercise. Most college athletes are banned from caffeine products because caffeine can be seen, to judges in sporting events, as an unfair advantage. However, recent research done by Health Professor Robert Motl at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign revealed something rather unusual. Though people build up a tolerance to caffeine in terms of providing energy, apparently the average Joe-consumer and the typical Joe can drink the same amount of coffee and have the same tolerance to pain. Apparently the pain-reducing aspect of caffeine doesn’t have a tolerance. Motl is doing more research to see if this actually helps athletes perform better and why there doesn’t seem to be a cap for pain tolerance. It is incredibly dangerous to share this with the public because many people forget that coffee and soda dehydrates the body, and though drinking large amounts of coffee before a run can make it less painful, strenuous workouts can become very dangerous if an athlete is dehydrated. Motl’s research can be found on Medical News Today.

Yet another food recall is sweeping through the country. Though I love pistachios, keep a hold on pistachio anything until the FDA gives the green light. There’s been a salmonella contamination and the Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc, California plant is voluntarily recalling one million pounds of pistachio products. This is a little scary because pistachios are in many different foods and other products. This problem was recognized March 24th when Kraft Foods found salmonella in trail mix bought from Setton International Foods.

Sara Koehnke


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