In the fast-paced modern world, where time is of the essence, we use everything at our disposal to make ourselves more efficient. This sometimes means using caffeine to pull off all-nighters, to complete assignments, or to do away with the mid-morning drowsiness at work. But is caffeine good for your health? Does it have any health benefits?
Caffeine is a methylxanthine drug which helps to stimulate our Central Nervous System to change our brain function by altering our perception, mood, consciousness or behavior. It is found in a wide variety of plants, most commonly in the leaves and beans of the coffee plant, in tea, and in cocoa.
Benefits of Caffeine Consumption
A majority of the world consumes caffeine daily, in some form or other. Caffeine is absorbed in the stomach and usually reaches the bloodstream within an hour or two of consumption. It is mostly used to increase alertness, but research has shown that caffeine, in the form of coffee, reduces the risk of diseases like strokes, certain cancers (mouth and throat), Parkinson’s, etc.
Caffeine can also increase the effectiveness of certain drugs, and most commonly of pain relievers. It is for this reason that a number of headache drugs have caffeine included in their formula. Caffeine usage also increases blood sugar levels, which can make it difficult for diabetic patients to maintain their insulin levels. But this happens on a short-term basis, as studies have consistently proved coffee’s association with low risks of type 2 diabetes. Caffeine has also proven to provide protection against cirrhosis- an ailment of the liver.
Furthermore, studies have shown that athletes burn more calories by exercising after consuming caffeine than those without consuming it. It is also widely advised to drink caffeine an hour before a workout, to reduce muscle pain.
Caffeine Ideal Dosage
Due to differences in people’s metabolisms and coffee quality, research has found it difficult to arrive at the right amount of caffeine to be consumed every day. However, 200 to 300 mg of caffeine has been approved to be safe for most people. People with slow metabolism should keep their caffeine intake to the minimum to avoid high blood pressure. Since caffeine is present in a number of foods and drinks, it is advised to check their caffeine content to avoid over-consumption. As low caffeine consumption has been widely considered to be safe for most adults, most people do not have to give up their daily cuppa.
Caffeine Side Effects of Overuse
Since it is a psychoactive drug, caffeine overuse may sometimes lead to dependence. Therefore, it can cause certain unpleasant physical and mental conditions like nervousness, muscle twitching, heart palpitations, etc. Moreover, with large everyday consumption of caffeine, the body tolerance may increase, which can lead to caffeine not having the positive effects it is usually associated with. This can also lead to anxiety and disruption in sleep patterns, which when combined with continued large consumption of caffeine, can result in insomnia.
Quitting caffeine after a prolonged period of use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as a headache, irritability, stomach aches and an inability to concentrate. However, caffeine also acts as a diuretic, which means that it makes the body lose water rapidly. Also, as caffeine is a stimulant, its usage should be cut down during pregnancy- as it can lead to an increase in the heart rate of the developing fetus.
Therefore, caffeine has positive effects on your body when it is consumed in moderation. Too much of caffeine, although, is not good for you.