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HomeLifestyleHow is Caffeine Good Or Bad To Our Health?

How is Caffeine Good Or Bad To Our Health?

Each day, billions of people rely on caffeine to help focus and stay alert.

As a matter of fact, this natural stimulant is one of the most commonly used ingredients in the world.

Caffeine is often talked about for its negative effects on sleep and anxiety. However, studies also report that it has various health benefits.

What is caffeine?

Historians track the first brewed tea as far back as 2737 B.C.

Coffee was reportedly discovered many years later by an Ethiopian shepherd who noticed the extra energy it gave his goats.

Caffeinated soft drinks hit the market in the late 1800s and energy drinks soon followed.

Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants.

It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, helping you stay alert and prevent the onset of tiredness.

Nowadays, 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product each day, and this number goes up to 90% for adults in North America.

How it works

Once consumed, caffeine 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. With that said, caffeine’s main effect is on the brain.

It functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and causes you to feel tired.

Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly more tired and causing you to want to go to sleep.

Caffeine helps you stay awake by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine, leading to reduced tiredness.

It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness, and focus. Because it affects your brain, caffeine is often referred to as a psychoactive drug.

Additionally, caffeine tends to exert its effects quickly.

The amount found in one cup of coffee can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream and about 1 hour to reach full effectiveness.

May improve mood and brain function

Caffeine has the ability to block the brain-signaling molecule adenosine.

This causes a relative increase in other signaling molecules, such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

This change in brain messaging is thought to benefit your mood and brain function.

Studies showed that after participants ingested 37.5–450 mg of caffeine, they had improved alertness, short-term recall, and reaction time.

In addition, linked drinking 2–3 cups of caffeinated coffee (providing about 200–300 mg caffeine) per day to a 45% lower risk of suicide.

Another study reported a 13% lower risk of depression in caffeine consumers.

When it comes to mood, more caffeine isn’t necessarily better.

A study found that a second cup of coffee produced no further benefits unless it was consumed at least 8 hours after the first cup.

Drinking between 3–5 cups of coffee per day or more than 3 cups of tea per day may also reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by 28–60%.

It’s important to note that coffee and tea contain other bioactive compounds (besides caffeine) that may also be beneficial.

Safety and side effects

Caffeine consumption is generally considered safe, although habit forming.

Some side effects linked to excess intake include anxiety, restlessness, tremors, irregular heartbeat, and trouble sleeping.

On the hindsight, too much of caffeine may also promote headaches, migraine, and high blood pressure in some individuals.

In addition, caffeine can easily cross the placenta, which can increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight. Pregnant women should limit their intake.

Caffeine can also interact with some medications.

Individuals taking the muscle relaxant Zanaflex or the antidepressant Luvox should avoid caffeine because these drugs can increase their effects.

Recommended dosages

The recommended daily intake of caffeine is 400 mg to be safe. This amounts to 2–4 cups of coffee per day.

That said, it’s worth noting that fatal overdoses have been reported with single doses of 500 mg of caffeine.

Therefore, it’s recommended to limit the amount of caffeine you consume at one time to 200 mg per dose.

Importantly, pregnant women should limit their daily intake to 200 mg.

The bottom line

Caffeine isn’t as unhealthy as it was once believed.

In fact, evidence shows that it may be just the opposite.

Therefore, it’s safe to consider your daily cup of coffee or tea as an enjoyable way to promote good health.

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