Is caffeine good for the health? – Caffeine consumption is linked to several health benefits such as protection from skin cancer, liver protection, and many more.
A lot of people rely on caffeine for a wake-up boost. Caffeine is one of the most commonly used natural stimulants in the world. It is often talked about for its negative effects on sleep and anxiety. However, it has various health benefits. It is commonly found in tea, coffee, and cocoa plants. It works by stimulating the brain and nervous system, thereby helping you stay alert and preventing the onset of tiredness.
Caffeine, once consumed, is quickly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream. From there, it travels to the liver and is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs. Caffeine’s main effect is on the brain. It functions by blocking the effect of adenosine which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired. For so many people, caffeine is what wakes them up and get them going in the morning. It’s indeed a psychoactive stimulant that acts on your central nervous system to drive your energy up
The health benefits of caffeine
People often talk about drinking coffee as being a guilty pleasure or a bad habit, namely because of the caffeine. But it doesn’t just perk you up, it also can be a major perk for your health. The health benefits of caffeine include:
- Improves mood and brain function
- Caffeine helps boosts metabolism and speed up weight loss
- Helps enhance exercise performance
- Helps protect against heart disease and diabetes
- Protects against liver damage
- Promotes longevity by decreasing the risk of premature death
- Decreases the risk of cancer
- Protects the skin by lowering the risk of skin cancer
- Reduces the risk of developing gout
- Supports gut health
Foods and beverages that contain caffeine
Caffeine is naturally found in the seeds, nuts, and leaves of certain plants. They are then harvested and processed to produce caffeinated foods and beverages. Foods and beverages that contain caffeine include:
- Energy drinks
- Yerba mate
- Brewed tea
- Decaffeinated coffee
- Chocolate milk
- Cocoa beverages
- Caffeinated water
- Migraine medication
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Negative effects of caffeine consumption
There can be negative consequences from caffeine consumption, particularly when taken in high doses. Remember, moderation is key when it comes to caffeine. Certainly, if you are drinking too much of it, short-term side effects can include migraines, insomnia, nervousness, irritability, restlessness, frequent urination, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors, according to Mayo Clinic. And as they point out, everyone reacts to it differently. It is important to learn how your body reacts to caffeine so that you can heat a sweet spot where it perks you up without causing problems.
In addition, caffeine can easily cross the placenta, which can increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight. Therefore, pregnant women should limit their intake.
Caffeine can interact with some medications. Individuals taking the muscle relaxed Zanaflex or the antidepressant Luvox should avoid caffeine because these drugs can increase its effects.
Finally, if you have type 2 diabetes, that is another time to check your caffeine intake. While it is associated with a decreased risk for developing diabetes, it can be a different story for those who already have the disease.
NOTE: A caffeine intake of 200mg per dose and up to 400mg per day, is generally considered safe. This amounts to 2 – 4 cups of coffee per day (by the US Department of Agriculture – USDA, and the European Food Safety Authority – EFSA). However, pregnant women should limit their intake to 200mg or less.