Caffeine Facts and Benefits?
Caffeine is a substance that stimulates the central nervous system. It can be natural or man-made. Its natural form is found in some plants while the man-made form is mechanically added to drinks, foods and medicines. Caffeine is a very common and widely used substance in most parts of the world. As a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine enhances the signaling of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that controls emotions, movement and motivation.
The activity of caffeine in the brain explains the feelings of increased energy and alertness you feel when you take your favorite cup of coffee or tea, or after gulping a can of soda. Caffeine can also be taken in form of tablets or intravenously.
Can I Develop an Addiction for Caffeine?
Although caffeine is not addictive in the real sense, yet if you stop taking your morning coffee or tea or other caffeinated beverages, you can experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include headaches and anxiety. Since caffeine is a type of drug (a psychoactive drug), it has both positive and negative effects on the body.
When taken in excessive amounts, caffeine may have very serious consequences on one’s health.The amount of caffeine in the body that is considered too much would depend on factors like a person’s age, general state of health and weight. Noticeable changes in the body can be felt in as short as five minutes after the consumption of caffeine and this changes can continue up to twelve hours later.
Benefits of Caffeine
Caffeine consumption boosts energy levels. Because caffeine acts a stimulant on the central nervous system, when you consume any product containing caffeine, you would feel more energized. Athletes are known to benefit from caffeine. It helps to increase their endurance levels and physical strength.
If you are trying to stay awake during the night for a good reason, caffeine can help you feel less sleepy and may keep you up through the night. You are also less likely to be tired and you can concentrate for longer periods with the help of caffeine.
Effective at Treating Headaches and Migraines
Caffeine is helpful in the prevention or treatment of headaches or migraine when it is used with common painkillers like acetaminophen. When used with painkillers, caffeine is effective in treating tension headaches.
Helps Relieve Inflammation
Caffeine, when applied topically, can be an effective treatment for skin inflammation. Symptoms of inflammation include swelling, blistering redness or itching on areas of the skin.
Reduces Your Risks of Certain Cancers
Caffeine is believed to reduce the risk of cancer of the liver by 50% when consumed in certain amounts. It is also believed to reduce the likelihood of cancers of the throat and mouth by 50% if it is consumed in certain amounts.
The brain is believed to benefit from caffeine. Long-term memory boost may occur when certain amount is consumed daily.
Reduces the Risk of Depression
Adults who take caffeinated coffee are at a reduced risk of depression.
May Help You Lose Weight Faster
Caffeine is also believed to be helpful in helping people lose weight on a short-term. Caffeine used in combination with ephedrine (a type of drug that acts as a central nervous system stimulant), can help overweight people lose weight slightly or moderately. When used with ephedrine, caffeine may also help to lower the amount of fat in the body and reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body while increasing the levels of its good counterpart.
Reduces Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Consuming caffeinated beverages is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Reduces the Risk of Liver Scarring in Hepatitis C Patients
People who have hepatitis C may benefit from caffeine. Caffeine consumption has been associated with a lower risk of liver scarring in people who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Reduces Your Chances of Developing Gallbladder Disease
People whose daily caffeine intake is about 800mg per day are believed to cut their risk of developing gallbladder diseases by half.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
People react to caffeine differently. What is considered a safe amount of caffeine for one person may not be safe, and may be in fact very dangerous for another person. A person’s age, the presence of a medical condition, pregnancy, whether certain medications are being used and general state of health, play a role in what caffeine does in your body.
Caffeine consumption in pregnant women is linked to a higher chance of miscarriage. Caffeine interacts with a number of drugs and the side effects, when used in combination with these drugs, can be very harmful. Caffeine should also not be used with alcohol. When used with alcohol, the body is unable to breakdown caffeine as fast as it should. This might lead to excess caffeine in the body.
Taken in right amount, caffeine consumption for most adults may be safe; however, for children and adolescents, caffeine may not be very safe. Excessive caffeine consumption interferes with the development of the brain. For this reason, pediatricians discourage children and adolescents from consuming caffeine.
Caffeine interferes with sleep and since sleep is vital for optimal brain performance, children and adolescents are advised to avoid caffeine consumption.To determine just how much caffeine is too much for, you will need to consider the factors mentioned above.
You may need to speak with your doctor to be sure how much is safe for you. In general, most healthy adults are believed to be safe if they consume about 400mg of caffeine per day. Nursing mothers are advised to limit or better still avoid caffeine. This is because babies are not fully developed to handle the effects of caffeine.
Side Effects of Caffeine
Overconsumption of caffeine is one of the causes of insomnia. Caffeine is known to interfere with sleep. Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep everyday to perform at their best. Constant sleep deprivation can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
Consuming too much caffeine can hinder you from getting a good night sleep because caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it would make you urinate more often than you should, disrupting your sleep. You are also less likely to be able to control your urination when you take too much caffeine. This is especially true for women, children and adolescents. Overconsumption of caffeine can cause bed wetting in older children.
Although caffeine can be used with other medications to treat or prevent headaches and migraines, yet, when consumed in excess amounts, caffeine can cause headaches.
Too much caffeine can cause stomach pain, indigestion, diarrhea or upset stomach, especially when consumed before food.
Consuming too much caffeine can make you feel uneasy, restless and nervous. It may also make you feel irritable.
Worsened Health Conditions
Excessive caffeine use or consumption is known to worsen certain heath conditions.
Symptoms of menopause in women are known to have worsened in women who take too much caffeine. When taken in excess amounts, caffeine can worsen diarrhea. People with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or anxiety disorders are advised to take caffeine with caution as it can make their condition worsen.
Consuming too much caffeine can lead to heart palpitations. People with heart conditions may experience irregular heartbeat when caffeine is consumed. Too much caffeine also makes bleeding disorders worse. Although caffeine is believed to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, caffeine may do more harm than good for people who already have diabetes.
On a final note
Do you now have to stop taking your favorite tea or coffee? Maybe not! What you might need to do is to take as little as you can every day or every other day. Too little caffeine is certainly better than too much.