Caffeine is a natural stimulant and has no taste of its own. It is found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. When consumed it stimulates the central nervous system and brain that may boost your mood, metabolism, mental and physical performance. However high doses of caffeine may have ill effects on your health. Research indicates that your genes have a major influence on your tolerance to it. Some people can consume more caffeine than others without experiencing negative effects. Caffeine drinking is good or bad depends upon your tolerance to it. However, too much consumption of caffeine should be avoided as it may have harmful effects. Studies have shown it is safe for most people when consumed in low to moderate amounts.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that naturally occurs in certain plants. It possesses no taste. Consuming caffeine activates the body and alleviates the feeling of tiredness and induces a feeling of well-being in your body. It has no nutritional value. Approximately 80% of the world’s population consumes caffeinated drinks every day. Billions of people use caffeinated drinks to stay awake during the night shifts or to jump-start their day.
How Caffeine works in your body?
On consumption, caffeine is absorbed from the intestine in the blood. It reaches the liver and is broken down into compounds that affect the various parts of the body. Its main action is on the brain. It acts on adenosine- a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain. Adenosine is responsible for tiredness and makes you want to go to sleep. Normally adenosine levels build up during the day and add to the tiredness. Caffeine act on the adenosine and blocks its functioning. Thus you feel less tired and stay awake. It also increases adrenaline levels in the blood and increases brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Which further stimulates the brain and makes you active, alert, and more focused. Since caffeine acts on the brain it is called a psychoactive drug. After consumption, caffeine reaches your bloodstream in 20 minutes, and in one hour it reaches its peak performance level.
Which foods or drinks contain caffeine?
Caffeine naturally occurs in certain fruits, leaves, and plants. These are harvested and processed to produce caffeinated drinks and beverages. It is naturally present in tea, coffee, and cocoa. Food that contains chocolate has caffeine. Caffeine is added to soft drinks, energy drinks, and some gum and candies — as an energy booster or stimulant. Caffeine is also added to certain medicines for cold, pain, allergy as a stimulant and to cause a sense of wellbeing. It is also present in certain supplements used for weight loss as an appetite suppressant. Following are the few foods or drinks that contain caffeine.
One cup (8 ounces) of brewed coffee contains around 95 mg caffeine. The same quantity of instant coffee contains about 60 mg of caffeine. And decaffeinated coffee contains around 4 mg of caffeine.
Around 65mg of caffeine is present in 1.5 ounces of espresso.
One cup of black tea contains about 47 mg of caffeine. Green tea contains about 28 mg of caffeine, whereas decaffeinated tea contains around 2 mg of caffeine. Herbal tea is devoid of caffeine.
A quantity of 12 ounces of regular or diet dark cola contains around 40 mg of caffeine. Whereas a similar quantity of Mountain dew contains about 55 mg of caffeine.
A standard energy drink of quantity 16 ounces contains around 170 mg of caffeine. Energy shots of 2 ounces contain about 200 mg of caffeine.
One ounce of dark chocolate contains about 24 mg of caffeine. Milk chocolate of the same quantity contains around 6mg of caffeine.
Guarana is a seed from a South American plant that is processed as an extract and added to foods, energy drinks, and energy supplements. It contains twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee beans.
How caffeine drinking is good or bad for your health?
Safe limits of caffeine drinking- Good for health.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture and European Food Safety Authority, two to four cups of coffee are safe. The recommended daily consumption of 400mg caffeine per day, in general, is considered safe. Pregnant women should consume less than 200mg of caffeine per day. Higher doses may cause severe health complications during pregnancy. Caffeine consumption within safe limits has beneficial aspects on health. But higher doses may cause physical and psychological ill health effects. Consuming a moderate amount is not considered unhealthy. It has addictive effects and withdrawal symptoms may include- headache, fatigue, low energy, irritability, aggression, anxiety, poor concentration, depression.
How caffeine drinking is bad for health?
- Consuming higher doses of caffeine may induce severe anxiety and nervousness.
- Excess amount of caffeine intake can affect quality and quantity of sleep that may cause insomnia and sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep may have many ill effects on your health.
- Since caffeine has addictive effects, It causes withdrawl symptoms like- headache, fatigue, irritability, etc.
- Caffeine may cause Rhabdomyolysis- a chronic health condition, in which damaged muscle fibres enters in blood stream and can cause severe problems.
- Consuming too much caffeine may increase heart rate, stomach upset, excessive urination, and anxiety.
- Too much caffeine may impact calcium absorption and may interfere with certain drugs.
- Pregnant women should limit the caffeine consumption as the excessive consumption of caffeine during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. Pregnant women should consume less than 200mg caffiene per day.
How caffeine drinking is good for health?
- Caffeine uplifts mood and causes a sense of wellbeing. As it blocks functioning of adenosine. There is an overall increase in dopamine and norepinephrine with which you feel less tired and active.
- Caffeine lowers the risk of diabetes (type-2), heart disease, stroke, and parkinson’s disease.
- Caffeine activates metabolism, which helps muscle tolerance and contraction and enhances exercise performance.
- Some studies revealed that consumption of caffeine helps in prevention of gout.
- Coffee being the major source of caffeine, helps you in reducing liver demage and premature death. Further mederate drinking of coffee may help in reducing your risk of developing dementia and parkinson’s disease. It helps in enhancing physical and mental performance.
Health benefits of caffeine drinking.
Caffeine drinking- improves brain function and mood.
Caffeine drinking helps you improve your brain functioning and act as a mood elevator. It causes a sense of well-being. Caffeine is capable of blocking the brain signaling molecule- adenosine. Which enhances dopamine and norepinephrine levels. Which improves your alertness and reduces the feeling of tiredness. As per a study- when participants consumed 37.5 to 450 mg of caffeine, they experienced an improvement in their alertness, short-term recall, and reaction timing.
One study revealed on consuming 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated coffee, containing 200 to 300 mg of caffeine per day- participants have at least 45% lower suicidal tendencies.
One more study found that caffeine consumers have at least a 13% lower risk of developing depression.
Moreover drinking more caffeine does not provide any additional benefits in mood elevation. Thus drinking in moderation is sufficient.
Caffeine drinking- helps in burning of fats and may boost metabolism.
Caffeine consumption in moderate amounts may help in burning fats and boosting metabolism. A 12-year study on caffeine and weight gain revealed that participants who drank coffee were found to lose weight 0.8 to 1.1 pounds (0.4 to 0.5 kg) at the end of the study. Consuming 300 mg of caffeine every day may help in burning the extra 79 calories per day. The amount although is small but is responsible for the average yearly weight gain of 2.2 pounds (1 kg) in Americans. Since caffeine is CNS (central nervous system) stimulant. It may increase metabolism by around 11% and the burning of fats around 13%.
Caffeine consumption – may help to increase exercising performance.
Caffeine drinking may increase the use of fat as fuel during exercising. It may help the stored glucose in muscles to last longer delaying the exhaustion time of muscles. Further caffeine may improve muscle contractions and can increase tolerance to fatigue. A dose of 1.4 mg per pound (3 mg per kg) of body weight consumed one hour before exercise may be sufficient for getting better results.
Caffeine consumption – may lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Consumption of caffeine may slightly increase your blood pressure. But this amount is small (3 to 4 mmHg) and tends to fade away on regular consumption. Caffeine may lower the risk of heart disease. As per a study, it was revealed that caffeine was found to lower the risk of heart disease by 16% to 18% in men and women participants who consumed 1 to 4 cups of coffee per day containing approximately 100 to 400 mg of caffeine.
One more study revealed that consuming 2 to 4 cups of coffee or green tea every day is linked to a 14% to 20% lower risk of stroke.
As per a study, it was found that participants who drink coffee have up to 29% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes. It was further observed the risk drops by 12% to 14% for every 200 mg of caffeine consumed.
In another study, it was stated that persons who consumed at least one cup of coffee per day have a reduced risk of getting type-2 diabetes by 11%.
Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea may reduce the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
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