For many people, caffeine is what wakes them up in the morning and keeps them going on long, hard days. Whether it’s a luxurious cappuccino or a quick shot of Red Bull, caffeine is an integral part of many people’s lives. But is it healthy?
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is the primary psychoactive ingredient in coffee. It’s found in over 60 different plant sources, including:
- Cacao seeds
- Cola nut seeds
- Tea leaves
- Coffee beans
It’s a stimulant that can help improve focus and counteract tiredness.
Caffeine has long had a bad reputation, but it has some notable benefits in addition to its stimulating effects.
There’s some evidence that caffeine has protective qualities, reducing people’s risk of certain cancers and other diseases. Drinking caffeine has been linked to a decreased risk of death from a host of causes, including suicide, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and Parkinson’s.
There’s also research that points to caffeine being beneficial for the brain. It may even improve memory function. However, because it does have an effect on the brain, researchers suggest that young people avoid caffeine.
Most people drink caffeine without any harmful effects. The sweet spot is two to four cups of coffee per day (or 200-400 miligrams of caffeine per day).
Negative Health Effects
Caffeine can also have a few unpleasant side effects, particularly when ingested in high doses (400 miligrams or more).
Drinking too much caffeine can result in:
• Sleep issues
• Shaky hands
• Rapid heartbeat
Some research links high caffeine consumption to low birth weight in babies whose mothers frequently drank 300 miligrams (or more) of caffeine per day while pregnant.
There’s also evidence that drinking a lot of coffee can increase heart attack risk in males — but not females. For some people, drinking a lot of caffeine can cause high blood pressure.
Caffeine can also interact with certain medications. If your doctor prescribes a medication, always ask about possible interactions.
There’s very little definitive research on the adverse health effects of caffeine. More often than not, people have no issues drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
However, regular coffee drinkers can experience a host of symptoms should they suddenly stop ingesting caffeine. Withdrawal symptoms include:
• Poor mood
• Lack of energy
• Difficulty focusing and concentrating
People with migraines may find that caffeine either exacerbates their symptoms or alleviates them.
Research on caffeine is a mixed bag, but most people who enjoy moderate amounts of caffeine will not experience adverse effects.
Written by: Steph Coelho