When we're feeling tired or in need of a gentle kick in the pants to get moving, many of us turn to soft drinks for the caffeine boost we need. But where does that energy boost and unique flavor come from? Traditionally, the main caffeine and flavoring agent used in these drinks was actually a nut that inspired their name: The kola nut.
But what if you're trying to avoid sugary drinks? Can you still get the benefits? Kola nut is available in supplement form as a natural way to keep you alert and energized.
More About Kola Nut
The kola nut naturally contains caffeine, which has popularized it around the world since the late nineteenth century, but it's use goes back much further. The kola nut grows in tropical areas of Africa and the Americas on two species of evergreen trees, the Cola acuminata and Cola nitida. The fruit of these trees typically contains a dozen seeds in a white shell, with the seeds being dubbed the kola nut. The seeds are rather large, similar in size to a chestnut, and have an initially bitter taste when chewed.
Common Uses of Kola Nut
Also referred to as "cola nut," the kola nut is commonly used for medicinal purposes and, of course, to make drinks. In the United States and Europe, however, synthetic versions of the kola nut are now used to make beverages. In West Africa, due to its natural levels of caffeine, the kola nut is often chewed to help relieve symptoms of fatigue or exhaustion and boost energy. Kola nut stimulates the central nervous system to create these effects, working with the heart and muscles. Chewing the nut, however, is not recommended as research shows regular use can lead to certain health risks including oral and gastrointestinal cancers. Supplemental forms of kola nut are considered safe to use regularly.
Kola nut can also be taken to help with digestion, relieve symptoms of diarrhea, promote respiratory health and as a natural cure for the uncomfortable symptoms of a hangover after overindulging in alcohol. The final use of the kola nut is to temporarily suppress the appetite while giving the metabolism a boost to facilitate weight loss when taken in combination with other natural ingredients. Research continues to determine the kola nut's exact role in weight loss.
Trying Kola Nut Yourself
You can find kola nut in various forms such as liquids or capsules, on its own or mixed with other herbs, vitamins and minerals. Kola nut is a common ingredient in energy supplements as a natural caffeine source.
On the July 18 episode of "The Dr. Oz Show," Dr. Mehmet Oz suggested using kola nut as a way to beat fatigue without turning to soda with his "Kola Cola." He combined 20 drops of the liquid kola nut extract with fresh lime juice, stevia and seltzer water to make a healthier option that still gives you the caffeine boost, taste and fizz you love.
When using kola nut supplements, it's important to time your dosage to prevent interfering with your sleep cycle. When taken late in the day or in too large an amount, kola nut can cause insomnia or feelings or nervousness or restlessness. As with all forms of caffeine, having too much can also cause headaches and digestive irritation. Don't take kola nut if you're on any type of amphetamine medication.
Next time you get the urge to reach for a sugary drink to boost your energy, consider the source to cut the calories without losing the effect. Kola nut can help you beat the fatigue.
Products you may like:
Olympian Labs Olympian Energy Why you may like this product? This energy supplement has
seven natural ingredients to
help you feel more energized
and alert. With kola nut,
vitamin B6 and guarana, you'll
have improved stamina and
Natural Balance Super Pep Why you may like this product? This supplement from Natural
Balance can be taken daily to
prevent feelings of fatigue
and exhaustion that can hold
you back. In addition to
providing your daily
recommended allowance of nine
vitamins and nutrients, you
get a proprietary blend of
energy boosters including kola
nut and eleuthero root.
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