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What Is Caffeine? The Health Benefits vs Risky Side Effects Explained

Being on the watch out for your health is a recommendable step in life. Today, there are so many products that most people do not understand how they affect their health, whether negatively or positively. Caffeine is a substance you can find in different foods. But, have you ever asked yourself what this substance is, its benefits, and its possible dangers? In this article, you should gather all that information and more about caffeine to get a clearer glimpse of whether you should consume it or not. Therefore, stick to the information explained below to ensure you grasp everything you should about this substance.

The Definition Of Caffeine

This is a stimulant found in drinks made from some natural plants, especially cacao, tea, and coffee. It is classified as a stimulant because research shows that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and the brain. Such stimulation enhances the consumer’s alertness and inhibits the onset of feeling tired and worn out. For this reason, you will realize most employees, students, drivers, and other people consume caffeinated products to enhance their productivity. They get to concentrate better on what they do because caffeine is working on their brains.

The history of caffeine dates back several centuries ago. According to history, 2737 BC is when human beings presumably brewed the first tea. Therefore, you can see how critical caffeine has been over the years. Imagine grazing your goats and realizing that they have become hyper-energetic after consuming a particular plant. That is what happened many years later in Ethiopia, and that is how coffee was discovered. Innovators have improved the sources of caffeine over the years to ensure you do not just get it from coffee and tea.

In the 1800s, soft drinks were introduced to the market and quickly gained popularity. Many people realized that such beverages energized them and helped them feel relaxed with less exhaustion. The subsequent products that followed soft drinks were energy drinks, and they became the talk of the town, too. Today, caffeine has become a global stimulant, with research showing that about 80% of the global population consumes this substance through different products every day. Nonetheless, in North America, reports indicate that 90% of adults consume caffeinated products daily.

How Does Caffeine Work?

The functioning of caffeine in the human mind and central nervous system is a phenomenon that most people do not understand. All they want is to enjoy the energy they get from the consumption of coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks. Nonetheless, it is not as complicated as most people think. Once you consume caffeine, it takes just a short period to be absorbed into your bloodstream from your gut. Due to the blood flow, this substance gets into your liver, where it is broken down into various compounds that alter the functioning of different organs, especially your brain.

Adenosine is a neurotransmitter hormone that constantly accumulates in the body throughout the day, and it is responsible for relaxing your brain and making your body feel tired. This is the hormone whose effects are blocked by the consumption of caffeinated products. Adenosine is also the hormone that makes you feel sleepy after exhaustion. The good news is that caffeine connects with this hormone’s receptors without activating them, and that is why you don’t feel sleepy after consuming tea, coffee, and other drinks containing caffeine. Some research also shows that caffeine may affect other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, resulting in enhanced body adrenaline levels.

Some health professionals and scientists call caffeine a psychoactive drug, considering that it mainly affects the functioning of your brain. Caffeine is a substance that releases its effects fast into the consumer’s bloodstream. Some say that the caffeine in a cup of coffee can take just 20 minutes to exert its effects and one hour for full effectiveness. Therefore, as you consume that caffeinated drink, be ready to feel its effects within a short period.

Foods And Drinks With Caffeine Contents

Most people think that caffeine is only found in coffee and tea, but you will change that thought once you read this section. Caffeine occurs naturally in different nuts, seeds, and leaves of varying plants. Harvesting is then done for these natural resources, and they are then processed to develop caffeinated drinks and foods. Nonetheless, this psychoactive drug is mainly found in some of the most popular beverages worldwide. Some of these drinks are explained below with their caffeine contents per 8-ounce serving. However, you should note that the levels described below are just ranges, considering that different manufacturers have varying caffeine contents for their products.

  • Coffee – contains between 102 and 200 milligrams per serving
  • Espresso – the caffeine level ranges between 240 and 720mg per 8-ounce serving
  • Soft drinks have a caffeine content level measuring between 20 and 40mg.
  • Decaffeinated coffee – although most people assume it has zero caffeine content, some of these coffee types have between 3 and 12mg of caffeine. Nonetheless, they are safe for most people with caffeine intolerance.
  • Chocolate milk – this may sound far-fetched, but chocolate also contains some caffeine. However, the content is pretty low in chocolate milk, ranging between 2 and 7 milligrams.
  • Energy drinks – these beverages contain some of the highest caffeine contents, ranging between 50 and 160mg per 8-ounce serving.
  • Pre workout – typically powder mixed with water and consumed before working out for more energy and focus.

Besides beverages, some foods also contain a few grams of caffeine per 1-ounce serving. Dark and milk chocolate are some of these foods, and their respective caffeine contents are 5-35mg and 1-15 milligrams. Additionally, some medicines contain this substance. These include OTC drugs for allergies, colds, and pain. Some weight management supplements, too, have some levels of caffeine, but the content is safe for use, considering these are products meant to help you achieve better health.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Caffeine?

Some health experts may advise you against the consumption of caffeinated foods and beverages, but they can come with some advantages. The only thing you should remember is that misuse or abuse of such products can have some gruesome consequences. In this section, you shall learn about some of the possible benefits of caffeine consumption. However, you must understand that the benefits explained below are not an assurance that you will get all the mentioned benefits, considering that people have varying minds and central nervous systems.

Boosted Performance During Workout

One of the best ways of achieving a healthy body is through exercise and workouts. Experts in that sector say that even 30-minute light exercise every day can contribute so much to both physical and mental well-being. Nevertheless, you must understand that such activities require energy. Sometimes you may feel too tired to observe your workout routine, especially in the evening after a busy day. In such a case, research shows that a cup of an energy drink, coffee, or any other caffeinated beverage can boost your energy levels and reduce tiredness to enable you to go for that jog or lift the weights to keep fit.

Additionally, caffeine helps your body utilize fat better as fuel, contributing to the glucose in your muscles lasting longer. The result of this is an extension of the time it takes your muscles to get tired. Although this is an outstanding advantage, you should not consume more caffeine than the recommended amount. 5mg per kg of body weight is enough, but even 3mg per kg is also a great option. That means if you weigh about 60kgs, 180mg of caffeine would be enough for your workout sessions. Caffeine has also been reported as a substance that can minimize exertion during exercise by up to 5.6%, making your gym sessions easier and more manageable.

Chances Of Protecting You From Heart Disease And Diabetes

Diabetes and heart-related health conditions are on the rise today, primarily because many people do not adhere to a healthy diet, while others suffer from stress and depression. It can be costly to treat these illnesses, especially if they get to their full-blown phases. That is why it is recommendable to take all the steps you can to minimize the chances of contracting such health conditions. Controversially, there is some news making rounds that caffeine increases the risk of developing heart disease. Nothing could be far from the truth. As a matter of fact, studies have revealed that men and women who consume between one and four coffee cups daily have a 16 to 18% lower chance of contracting heart disease than those who do not drink.

Moreover, reports indicate that if you consume between two and four cups of green tea daily, you reduce the chances of getting a stroke by about 14-20%. You can now understand why coffee shops and tea houses have become lucrative today. Many people want to consume such amounts, but most lack time to do it, mainly due to tight schedules. Therefore, they end up in these coffee and tea outlets to get their favorite beverage.

When it comes to diabetes, research has it that those who consume huge amounts of caffeine and coffee have a 30% and 29% lower risk, respectively, of developing type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee can also lower the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes by about 21%. One thing to note is that caffeine may raise blood pressure in some people, but that condition fades away as such individuals regularize coffee consumption.

Boosted Metabolism And Fat Burning

Your metabolism matters a lot because you could develop other complications and health issues if anything is wrong with it. As mentioned before, caffeinated products stimulate the nervous system. Researchers, scientists, and even health experts have reported that when you consume such products, there is a likelihood of increasing your metabolism and fat burning by 11% to 13%, respectively. Having too many calories in the body can result in high blood pressure and other illnesses that can cost you significant amounts to treat. Fortunately, consuming at least 300mg of caffeine per day helps you burn 79 more calories, an excellent direction towards a healthy you.

You may deem such figures as small, but you should know adding 79 calories to your body daily is the equivalent of adding 1kg to your weight annually. Those are not figures to joke with because you may develop weight-related diseases like obesity and heart hypertension. Nonetheless, since this was a study conducted on different people, those who consumed the most caffeine lost between 0.4 and 0.5kgs at the end of the research. Although that may seem negligible, it can go a long way in helping you burn the excess fat in your body. That is because you will be burning the fat over a long period.

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Other Possible Benefits

Caffeine has other incredible health benefits you should also know about, as summarized in this section. The point to remember is that scientists and researchers have not been through with the research on these effects. Therefore, do not think that a cup of coffee, tea, or any other caffeinated beverage is your to-go-to option when treating or preventing different health conditions. It is always advisable to talk to a health professional to get an explanation of other viable ways to achieve a healthier status. Coffee contains other substances. Therefore, some of the benefits explained below may result from other substances other than caffeine. The other benefits, in this case, may include:

  • Multiple sclerosis prevention – caffeine consumption may play a part in helping you avoid developing multiple sclerosis, otherwise known as MS.
  • Lower skin cancer risk – although it may sound hard to believe, reports show that a cup of caffeinated coffee per day can significantly help lower the risk of suffering from skin cancer.
  • Reduced premature death risk – according to research, women and diabetic people can lower their risk of premature death by about 30% simply by consuming coffee.
  • Preventing gout – gout may sound like a less-severe illness, considering that it is fatal in very rare cases, but it can be bothersome. The best prescription to help you prevent this illness is four coffee cups every day. It has been proven that men and women who stick to this routine have 40% and 57%, respectively, lower risk of developing gout.
  • Healthier liver – the liver is a critical organ in the human body, and if you do not protect it, you may end up suffering from liver cirrhosis. The good news is that caffeinated coffee has been named one of the beverages that can help you prevent such a health condition. Additionally, caffeine will help stop disease progress and enhance treatment response if you already have cirrhosis.

Possible Dangers And Side-Effects Of Caffeine

In most places, caffeine consumption is considered safe as long as the consumer understands the best prescriptions. However, different people have varying experiences with various substances, and caffeine is not an exception. Therefore, it becomes critical to understand some of the side effects you may get from caffeine consumption, especially when you drink coffee. Some of these effects may include;

Anxiety And Restlessness

Some caffeine consumers have reported instances where they became anxious and restless after consuming the substance. The symptoms may include unexplainable sweating, premonitions, panicking, trembling, and having trouble focusing on other things other than your present worries. It can be stressful to experience such feelings, especially when you cannot be sure of what is bothering you. The good news is that it is not a must for you to become anxious and restless, but you should be aware of this effect because it may happen to you, too. These two effects mainly come from the fact that caffeine affects the consumers’ central nervous system and brain. This can sometimes tamper with your feelings, contributing to anxiousness and restlessness.

Trouble Catching Sleep

Insomnia is a common caffeine side-effect. As explained before, this psychoactive drug inhibits the functioning of the hormone responsible for making your mind relax. Therefore, this means your mind will always be active until the effects of caffeine fade from your system. Lack of a good night’s sleep comes with several dangers. This is why health experts advise people to avoid having coffee before they go to bed.

Nonetheless, your lack of sleep may result from other things and not caffeine. Stress, depression, drug abuse, and alcoholism may also contribute to insomnia. Therefore, do not simply assume that the cup of coffee you took earlier is the main reason why you have a hard time catching a deep slumber.

An Irregular Heart Rate

Your heart should beat 72 times a minute. Nonetheless, some individuals have pointed out experiencing a higher number of heartbeats after consuming caffeinated products, such as tea, coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks. That is why this substance has, in some cases, been associated with high blood pressure. Nevertheless, like with insomnia, increased heartbeats may result from drug abuse, alcohol consumption, stress and depression, and even some health conditions. You can avoid the effects that coffee or any other caffeinated beverage may have on your heart as long as you follow the recommended prescription.

It Can Mess With Some Medications

If you walk into a hospital today, you may get some prescriptions that may not react well with any caffeinated food or drink. If you have trouble with muscle relaxation, one of the drugs that can help you is Zanaflex, which is not compatible with caffeine products. Additionally, caffeine does not augur well with an antidepressant known as Luvox. Consuming coffee while under these medications will only increase their effects.

Possibility Of Miscarrying

There is a strict reason why pregnant women are advised to avoid consuming any beverages or foods with caffeine content. Professionals in the health sector have researched and realized that when a pregnant woman consumes caffeine, the substance can easily cross the placenta, leading to a baby’s low birth weight or miscarriage. It would be so saddening to lose your child simply because you could not stay away from that daily cup of coffee. However, the danger is not as severe as it may sound, considering that if you are a pregnant woman, your body may react differently to caffeine than the bodies of other pregnant women. Your doctor is better positioned to advise you whether to completely avoid caffeine or limit your intake. It is advisable to stick to such guidance to ensure you and your baby are safe.

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The Best Dosages

Caffeine may have exponential benefits for your body, but you should also not forget the possible risks, effects, and dangers. This is why it becomes highly critical to understand some of the best-recommended dosages to ensure you do it right and minimize the chances of suffering from one of the side effects explained above. The number of caffeine overdose cases reported has increased over the last few years, meaning you should be more careful with this substance. Some of these overdose cases have been fatal, but not many people see the seriousness of such occurrences.

400mg of caffeine per day is the most recommendable dosage by both the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture. This quantity is equivalent to about two to four daily coffee cups. You can be safe at 400mg per day, but not if pregnant. Expectant women are advised to do away with caffeine consumption or at least limit their intake to a maximum of 200 milligrams per day. This report was released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Caffeine overdose by pregnant women comes with several dangers to both the mother and the unborn child.

Miscarriages, fetal deaths, and babies born underweight are some of the cases that have been reported among women who do not avoid or limit their caffeine intake during pregnancy. In other cases, this has led to the death of the mother and even the unborn child. You can see how essential it is to be careful to ensure you have a lovely pregnancy journey and a safe delivery. Nonetheless, caffeine is just one of the things that may affect a pregnant woman. Pregnancy and childbirth complications can result from many factors, including alcoholism, drug and substance abuse, stress and depression, health conditions, and genetics. Therefore, do not judge that cup of coffee when you get some complications, although it is advisable to be cautious.

Caffeine, especially in coffee and tea, is common in most places worldwide. The good news is that such beverages are easy to find almost everywhere and at reasonable prices. Additionally, there are so many ways to make that cup of tea or coffee. You can give it any type of accompaniment, including cakes, muffles, Pretzels, Oreos, Cheetos, and snickers. Nonetheless, some people like enjoying their coffee alone without any snacks or accompaniments. However you choose to do it depends on your tastes and preferences. Nevertheless, the information explained in this piece gives you a clear glimpse of some of the critical details about caffeine. This includes understanding what caffeine means and where it comes from. Next, you will learn how it functions in your body once you consume it. There is also a section educating you on some of the benefits of caffeine in your body. Finally, you get to learn all there is about the different dangers of consuming this psychoactive drug.

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