According to The National Coffee Association, older adults drink more coffee than any other age group. Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate, some medications, and many other common foods and beverages contain caffeine.
Caffeine is classified as a drug since it is a stimulant that works on the nervous system. Many debates if caffeine is healthy. There is not a simple answer to this question. There are many health benefits as well as risks when it comes to caffeine. Like most things, moderation is key.
Many people like to start the day with a cup of coffee. Our minds and bodies rely on it after a while. But is that a bad thing?
It turns out that consuming caffeine has some significant benefits. But caffeine has a few downsides, too.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of caffeine.
Consuming caffeine has some real advantages:
- Caffeine is a safe stimulant when used at the appropriate dosages. This is one of the reasons many people love a cup of coffee in the morning. Sure, coffee tastes great, but we also love the feeling of alertness and focus that the caffeine from coffee provides.
- Caffeine is good for your mood. Caffeine is also a mood booster for many people. You feel more capable and the day looks a little brighter.
- Caffeine blunts your appetite. Caffeine is also used in many appetite suppressants. You’re not as hungry after consuming caffeine.
- Caffeine increases fat oxidation. It doesn’t burn fat to any noticeable degree, but it does release fatty acids into the bloodstream where they can be burned by the body for energy.
- Boosts the effect of painkillers. Some painkillers, like Excedrin, contain caffeine, because it boosts the effects of the other ingredients. Many painkilling medications simply work better in the presence of caffeine.
- Decreased risk of type-2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and some types of cancer. No one is 100% sure why, but consuming caffeine regularly seems to reduce the likelihood of contracting these diseases.
Consider these disadvantages of caffeine, too:
- Upset stomach. Caffeine can irritate the stomach lining and stimulate the intestinal tract. Caffeine can cause nausea and diarrhea.
- The stimulatory effects of caffeine can make it challenging to fall asleep at night. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Be careful about how much caffeine you consume after the afternoon. You might have a long night.
- Heart palpitations. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Caffeine can over-stimulate the heart and lead to heart palpitations. The dosage needed to create this effect varies greatly from person to person.
- Too much caffeine can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, sometimes to dangerous levels.
- Too much stimulation can create nervousness and anxiety. We’ve all known that jittery feeling that too much caffeine produces.
- Pregnancy complications. Caffeine can cross over from the mother to the fetus. Even breast milk can contain caffeine if the mother consumes caffeine.
- It’s possible, but not easy, to consume enough caffeine to cause death. It would be difficult to consume enough caffeine through beverages to cause death unless the person is highly sensitive to caffeine. Here are some of the symptoms of caffeine overdose:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
In moderation, caffeine can be a good thing for those who aren’t highly sensitive to it. If you believe that caffeine is hurting your health or life, cut back.
It can be challenging to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume. Headaches and fatigue are common complaints of those reducing their intake.
However, if you’re doing just fine with caffeine, there’s no reason not to continue. The FDA recommends that caffeine intake should not exceed 400 mg per day. That’s about 3-4 cups of coffee. Just remember, caffeine is best to use in moderation, and always follow medical professionals’ advice.