The Effects of Caffeine

Caffeine is something that is often talked about, yet there are so many points of view on it and various studies that it feels like one week it is good for you, and the next it is terrible. The underlyer is that it is a stimulant often taken to decrease fatigue and improve focus. However, a moderate intake (~300mg/day, or 2-4 cups of coffee) has been found to be both beneficial and a risk, depending on the individual.

Caffeine is considered a stimulant as it helps to activate the central nervous system, which can happen as soon as 15 minutes after ingestion, and last up to 6 hours. Some studies have found that in moderate amounts, caffeine intake may reduce the risk of mouth, throat and liver cancer. In addition to this, it has found to possibly be protective against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and cardiovascular disease, as well as aiding long term memory. Furthermore, a study on 142 elderly people living on a Greek island, found that those with higher consumption of Greek coffee had greater endothelial functioning than those who drank less. Greek coffee is simply black coffee with very fine grounds in it. If you enjoy your coffee, this may be worth giving a go!

Through all of these great positive effects of drinking coffee, there are several negative ones as well. Moderate doses consumed by an individual who is pregnant can result in a higher risk of low birth weight babies, and higher doses (~500-600mg/day) can lead to insomnia, muscle tremors, upset stomachs, restlessness and irritability. This is just warning against having too much caffeine throughout the day, as it can lead to the above negative repercussions.

It is very important, though, to take this information with a grain of salt, as caffeine affects everyone in a different way. Those who smoke metabolise caffeine twice as fast as those who do not, and there are many other variables at play in how an individual digests it. As long as you are not continually exceeding 4 cups of coffee a day, and don’t have any underlying health problems it could exacerbate, then you will most likely not experience too many of the negative consequences! They are always a good thing to keep in mind though when consuming caffeine.

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