Many among us rely on a morning cup of coffee or a jolt of caffeine in the evening to help us get through the struggles of the day. Caffeine is a natural stimulant commonly found in coffee, tea or any cocoa beverage. It is something which is being used from a very long time as the first brewed tea was traced back to 2738 BC.
Coffee was discovered many years later by an Ethiopian shepherd who noticed the extra stimulant or energy it gave to his goats. As time went on, caffeine was introduced in soft drinks in the late 1800s and energy drinks soon followed as well. Nowadays, 75% of the world population consumes at least one caffeinated product such as tea, coffee or other cold beverages. This number is up to 85% for adults in North America. This makes you wonder, is caffeine good for you or should it be avoided?
Over the years, numerous studies have found both positive and negative effects of caffeine. Some of the advantages include:
Improvement in Mood & Brain Function
Caffeine can block some signalling molecules while at the same time it stimulates a few of them too. Specifically, molecules such as adenosine are blocked, and dopamine & norepinephrine are stimulated. This change in brain functioning and messaging is thought to enhance a person’s mood and brain function.
Boosts Metabolism & Speeds Up Weight Loss
Due to its ability to stimulate the central nervous system, caffeine may increase metabolism by up to 10% and fat burning by 12%. A 13-year study on caffeine and weight gain denotes that the participants who mostly drank coffee were only 0.4-0.5kg lighter at the end of the testing period.
Enhances Exercise Performance
Caffeine increases the use of fat as fuel. This is highly beneficial because it can help the glucose stored in muscles last longer and potentially delays the time it takes our muscles to reach the point of exhaustion. Studies also report similar benefits in high-intensity workouts, sports and resistance exercises.
Alongside these benefits, consuming caffeine has some strings attached to it as well, which include but are not limited to:
Digestive & Excretory Problems
As caffeine is a stimulant, it increases the amount of acid in your stomach and may cause upset or heartburn. A certain amount of it is absorbed and stored in the body, while the extra caffeine is processed in the liver and excreted out of our system through urine. This is why increase in urination is witnessed after having caffeine.
Skeletal and muscular problems
Caffeine in huge amounts may interfere with absorption and metabolism of calcium which contributes to bone thinning, known as osteoporosis. If you consume too much, caffeine may cause your muscles to twitch.
Things are always good when they are consumed or used within a limit. Excess of anything, especially a chemical like caffeine can be detrimental. Excess consumption of caffeine isn’t recommended because high caffeine doses can cause major health issues, including irregular heartbeats and seizures. Consuming a lot of caffeine on a regular basis can also lead to hormonal imbalances. Also, according to the FDA, an average person shouldn’t have more than 400 mg of caffeine per day. It should be even less if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine.
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