Caffeine: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
by Boston Gregg
A recent study by New Scientist magazine showed that 90% of North American adults consume some form of caffeine on a daily basis.
Caffeine affects our day-to-day lives more than one might think. It’s important to understand what it is and the potential influences it can have on your health.
It is a central nervous system stimulant found naturally in the beans, leaves, and fruits of over 60 known plants, including the beans/leaves that go into making your daily coffee or tea.
Moderate consumption of caffeine can benefit alertness and reduce fatigue, while withdrawal, misuse, and/or abuse could potentially result in chronic headaches, nervousness, increased anxiety, fatigue, etc.
“Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”
The Good: (Health Benefits)
- For many coffee lovers, caffeine is the very lifeblood that keeps their engine running. A morning coffee or tea will cure early morning fatigue and grogginess.
- Stimulates brain function and promotes mental alertness.
- Medicine containing caffeine speeds up the absorption and effectiveness of the other active ingredients.
- Dietary supplements containing it have positive effects on weight lose results when paired with proper diet and exercise.
- Over the counter (OTC) medicines, pills, energy drinks, etc.
- Moderate consumption of it has largely positive effects on behavior and mood.
The Bad: (Side Effects & Withdrawal)
- Withdrawal can have negative impacts on behavior and mood.
- May negatively interact with other medications, allergies, and some common conditions.
- Consuming it too close to bedtime can throw off one’s sleep cycle.
Below is a list of some factors to consider before consuming or beginning medicine containing the stimulant.
Avoid if you suffer from any of the following:
- Allergies to caffeine, medicines, foods, or other substances.
- Chronic anxiety
- Heart disease
- Liver or stomach ulcers
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- High blood pressure
The Ugly: (Misuse & Abuse)
Misuse/abuse can lead to overdose and, in some cases, death.
- Mildly addictive psychoactive drug and should be treated as such.
- The recommended amount for healthy adults is 400 mg.
- If you are taking medicine containing it, be mindful of caffeinated food, beverages, and other medicines.
- Take medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
- If you are taking over the counter (OTC) medicines containing the stimulant, follow the instructions.
- Should never be used as a substitute for sleep.
- The misuse/abuse OTC medicines can also cause Rebound Headaches.
- Overdoses are often easily treatable.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat foods high in potassium or magnesium.
- See your doctor if symptoms worsen.
Symptoms of Overdose:
- Increased thirst
Click here for more information: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678
- Caffeine. (2012, February 26). https://www.drugs.com/caffeine.html
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Caffeine – How much is too much? (2014, April 14). http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678
- Watson, Stephanie. Caffeine and a healthy diet may improve memory, thinking skills; alcohol’s effect uncertain. (2015, October 29). http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/caffeine-healthy-diet-may-boost-memory-thinking-skills-alcohols-effect-uncertain-201406187219
- Smith, A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40, pages 1243-1255. http://cedec.umfcv.ro/files/e/f/Effects%20of%20caffeine%20on%20human%20behavior.pdf