Millions of Americans enjoy waking up to a mug of morning joe, some requiring a few more cups to get through the day. However, debate surrounds caffeine when it comes to our health. Should coffee lovers should worry?
Caffeine is Sneaky!
Caffeine is a crystalline compound which acts as a natural stimulant (energy increaser) to the body’s nervous system. It is found in many edible items such as coffee, tea, certain sodas, kola beans and chocolate. Surprisingly, many medications and supplements also contain varying amounts of caffeine as a filler ingredient
(such as Excedrin).
Does Caffeine have Side Effects?
As long as healthy adults stay within the 400mg daily recommended limit of caffeine (early in the day), it shouldn’t cause many issues, but some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of caffeine. If you consume too much or have a sensitivity, caffeine can spur the following symptoms:
- Upset stomach
- Fast heartrate
- Heart palpitations
Who Should Steer Clear of Caffeine?
Those who should drastically limit their intake of caffeine include:
- Those who know they are caffeine sensitive.
- If you have a serious heart condition it is best to listen as caffeine can aggravate some heart conditions such as certain arrhythmias.
- If you have been advised by a doctor to cut down on the coffee for another health reason.
- Pregnant women shouldn’t consume more than 300mg of caffeine daily as it may have adverse effects on the fetus.
- Children must limit their intake to 2.5mg/kg which works out to about a can of pop a day.
Is Caffeine Really Addictive?
Some will argue that caffeine addiction is a myth but most health professionals consider it to be a mildly addictive substance. Because of how caffeine effects the nervous system
it can cause a slight dependence, but nothing compared to drugs or alcohol. People sometimes become irritable, experience blue moods, headaches, mild fatigue or brain fog for a few days after quitting. So all in all it might be tough to kick the habit, but caffeine withdrawal isn’t considered a medical match to contend with, it will just make for a few unpleasant days.
Does Caffeine Have Health Benefits?
There has been research done on the effects of caffeine for asthmatics. It can mimic the effects of a bronchodilator medication called theophylline and can potentially help acute asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing. There have also been links drawn between moderate caffeine consumption and lowered risk of such cancers as mouth and tracheal cancer as well as a potentially lower risk of type 2 diabetes
. More studies must be done before some of these conclusions are cemented but it definitely isn’t all bad!
So, is Caffeine Good, Bad or Ugly?
The bottom line seems to be as long as you tolerate caffeine well, enjoy it in moderation! However, if you find yourself exceeding the recommended daily limit or relying on caffeine too heavily you may need to re-examine your intake. Similarly, if you seem to experience negative effects with even a small amount of caffeine, you’d be best obliged to stay away. Basically, enjoy caffeine responsibly!
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