We come across so many different natural ingredients and food substances in our daily lives, many of which fly under the radar and we never pay much attention to them. For example, if you were asked to list some of the ingredients in a bar of chocolate, you’d probably only be able to say cocoa powder and milk, even though it has caffeine in it. We’ve just been conditioned to know and care about specific things, forgetting about the rest.
Amongst the food substances and ingredients we do care about, you have caffeine. Normally found in coffee or tea, caffeine is believed to have a variety of health benefits. That’s cool, but why on earth is there a post dedicated to it?
Well, it’s because caffeine also has a bad side to it that can mean it’s not that good for you. As a result, we’re in a tricky situation where you’ve got this substance that can benefit your body, but it could also do bad things.
It leaves us wondering whether or not caffeine is a good thing to have in your diet. Is it one of the best natural health supplements out there, or should you avoid it at all costs? Let’s find the answer to this by going through what’s good and bad about caffeine:
The Good Side of Caffeine
Firstly, what is caffeine? We see it as an ingredient in things a lot, but it is a natural stimulant that’s commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. As a stimulant, it interacts with the chemical pathways to your brain, providing a range of effects that can be seen as very beneficial for your health.
For starters, caffeine can sharpen your focus and improve the way your brain functions. This is why people tend to drink it in the morning as caffeine interacts with your brain signals and makes you feel more alert and awake.
A lot of energy drinks or drinks marketed to help you study harder and feel more focused will all contain caffeine as an active ingredient. Some scientists even argue that caffeine can reduce the risk of problems like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s’.
Furthermore, there are some big links between caffeine and your physical health. The way this stimulant works means it interacts with your CNS. Consequently, caffeine consumption can help to speed up your metabolism. Effectively, this means that your body burns more calories while at rest – and while you exercise.
In turn, if you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, caffeine can give you a boost to lose weight much faster than if you didn’t consume it. Alongside this, the focus and energy-boosting effects of caffeine can mean you exercise a lot harder than normal.
More energy means you can work out for longer and at a higher intensity, allowing you to break through barriers and achieve new physical health goals. This is why most pre-workout supplements will include caffeine!
As if that wasn’t enough, there have been numerous reports and studies that suggest caffeine consumption protects against heart disease. One particular study showed a 16-18% lower risk of heart disease in adults who had anywhere between 100-400mg of caffeine per day – which equates to 1-4 cups of coffee.
The Bad Side Of Caffeine
Caffeine is technically considered a drug because it is a stimulant that interacts with your brain. Already, this raises a few concerns and warning sides. What do all drugs have in common? They’re highly addictive. This is because of the way they impact your brain and nervous system, making your body crave the substance.
Granted, as seen on https://www.sunshinebehavioralhealth.com/colorado/, caffeine is not a drug that usually lands people in a rehab center. It’s very addictive, but not to the same extent as things like alcohol, opioids, or marijuana.
However, the fact it is an addictive substance is definitely something to worry about. Indeed, if you drink a lot of coffee and then go a day without it, you will start developing cold turkey symptoms that you’d usually associate with drug addicts.
Your head starts hurting, you feel cold and shivery, and you genuinely feel like you’re coming down with something. This goes to show just how impactful coffee is on the human body.
Alongside this, increased caffeine consumption has been linked to an increase in blood pressure after consuming it. Caffeine can also increase your heart rate, and both of these effects could make it more likely that you can suffer from heart complications – like a heart attack.
Then, you also have some better-known adverse effects of caffeine, such as insomnia and problems with your digestion. If you drink a lot of coffee, you will struggle to fall asleep because it keeps you awake. Having some caffeine after meals can help you digest, but it is a diuretic, meaning too much will have you sitting on the toilet for the rest of the day.
Should You Ingest Caffeine Regularly?
You’ve seen it clearly has a lot of health benefits, but there are some safety concerns to worry about as well. It makes you wonder; should you ingest caffeine regularly? There is a simple answer to this, and it is yes! You should ingest caffeine as the adverse effects are only present when you have too much of it in your system – or, in the case of insomnia, when you take caffeine at the wrong time.
It is recommended that you stick to around 400mg of caffeine per day. For context, this is no more than 4 cups of coffee a day, but even that is a bit excessive. Try to stick to two cups of coffee and you will be absolutely fine.
If you don’t like coffee, and you get your caffeine from other drinks or supplements, always be sure you read the labels to see how much you get per serving. Keep it below the 400mg level every day, and you won’t have to worry about the side effects.
I guess this means that caffeine is a natural health supplement, rather than something to be avoided. It’s also worth mentioning that you should consume less of this stuff when you are pregnant. Here, you need to half the daily dose to 200mg, just to stay safe.