Thursday, January 11, 2007

As Bad as Smoking?

Sometimes I think things I consume can be just as bad as smoking. Let me explain.

Many smokers go about their day happily enjoying every puff of their cigarettes. They know there are risks, they know it is harmful to their health, but they live in their own little worlds thinking, “It won’t happen to me. I’ll be OK.”

Well, I love caffeine. I usually drink just one cup of coffee in the morning and tea throughout the day. But my real love is a diet cola soft drink over lots of ice.

Over the years I have heard the health warnings about caffeine and artificial sweeteners. I took them as seriously as I did the report that broccoli and peanut butter cause cancer. For every bad report about caffeine, I would find one about how it improves athletic performance or scores on math tests. I have low blood pressure and I’ve rarely had trouble sleeping, so I ignored it all.

Now there's a report that caffeine can affect calcium absorption. Whoa! My doctor recently told me I have not been consuming enough calcium for years. For the last month I have struggled to get just one of those chocolate chews down every morning (with my coffee) and I'm supposed to take one in the evening, too. Yuck.

I've begun to worry about whether I'll be one of those people who breaks a hip and is never really the same. Or maybe I'll shrink and end up not even 5 feet tall.

Chances are the story I saw has exaggerated the results of a study. I know I can’t blindly eat and drink whatever I feel like and expect there will be no consequences later in life. I try to make healthy choices, I exercise regularly (weight-bearing exercise) and I have never smoked.

In the meantime, I am trying harder to take calcium twice a day and I'm limiting my favorite beverage to no more than one a day. I have even replaced a couple caffeinated beverages with plain old water.

I hope my bones remember this when I get old.

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