Are you one of those people who cannot live without coffee but are troubled by the question, is caffeine good for you? Did you know there are many health benefits of coffee like better memory, fat reduction, and younger skin?Research on caffeine and its impact on our body has revealed many conflicting results and has given rise to a variety of questions. Does caffeine help in weight loss? Is the drug legal? What is the ideal amount of caffeine intake, and what will happen if I exceed it? In this article, we will find answers to these hot caffeine questions. Before answering your questions, let it be known that caffeine is not synonymous with coffee. So what is the difference?
Coffee vs. caffeineCaffeine and coffee are two very different things. Caffeine is a frequently consumed psychoactive drug found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some other food products. Coffee is a beverage that is made by brewing roasted coffee beans. While caffeine is a psychoactive substance, it is a moderate one. A psychoactive drug is a chemical that alters cognitive abilities such as awareness and mood. It is a licensed substance that the Food and Drug Administration considers safe for consumption since it does not harm the body or its ability to function.
Health benefits of caffeineCaffeine, which is mostly consumed by us as a part of caffeinated beverages, chocolates, and carbonated drinks, is said to have many psychological and physiological benefits to it. These benefits are a nice excuse for you to have an extra cup of coffee for the day.
AntioxidantCoffee contains a good amount of antioxidants like hydroxycinnamic acids and polyphenols. Coffee is one of the most abundant sources of natural antioxidants in our diet, which is one of the many health advantages of coffee. Antioxidants occur naturally in berries. Coffee beans, which are seeds of berries, are hence, a good source of antioxidants.
Why do you need antioxidants?Our body produces something called free radicals. Without going too much into complex chemistry, free radicals are molecules that have a 'free' electron that is not paired with any other electron. These free radicals lead to oxidation within the body. You must have seen that if you cut an apple and leave it unattended for some time, it turns brown. This is an example of the oxidation process, which is caused because of the presence of free radicals. Antioxidants, as the name suggests, help us fight this oxidation process. Oxidation can cause skin issues like aging and hyper-pigmentation. It can also lead to cell damage. When these free radicals approach our cells, they damage the cell membrane (outer layer of a cell), DNA, and protein substances within the cell. A cell damaged in this manner is known as an oxidized cell. Besides battling oxidation within the body, antioxidants also reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. They help in improving brain function as well. Mushroom coffee contains antioxidants in abundance.
Improves Cognition and moodCaffeine acts upon the central nervous system that might help you feel less tired and sleepy. Caffeine's effects on attention and memory are inconsistent at typical levels, although it generally enhances response time, alertness, focus, and muscle control.
Do you know how caffeine makes you feel less sleepy?Our nervous system has some receptors on it. These receptors receive a certain chemical substance found in our body called adenosine. Adenosine is responsible for our sleepiness. Caffeine has a molecular structure similar to adenosine and can take its place on the receptor. Though their designs are similar they do have some differences hence caffeine doesn't completely control our nervous system. It has an effect that can last for four to six hours.
How does it affect our mood?Drink coffee for a better mood. When caffeine starts substituting adenosine, it increases the chances of the receptors receiving happy hormones like dopamine. These hormones give us an improved mood.
How does caffeine help with better memory?Research done by Johns Hopkins University revealed that after examining a set of photos, participants who were given 200-milligram caffeine pills were able to remember and distinguish the images when evaluated the next day.
Improves metabolism and helps with fat burnAs per the WHO, over 1 billion people are overweight, with over 300 million being obese, making obesity one of the top ten health risks. Coffee helps in increasing the efficiency of metabolic activities in our bodies. This itself helps in burning more fat. Besides, one of the most often used compounds in medicines for fat reduction is caffeine. Caffeine should be in the range of 300-350mg in the daily dose of an excellent fat-burning product. Caffeine also increases our body temperature, which further helps in burning extra calories, helping us manage weight gain. Green tea, which is usually associated with weight loss, is also a contributor to caffeine consumption.
Improve exercise performanceCaffeine is a major component of energy drinks that we all love to have while we are exercising. Usually, when we exercise, our body uses the glucose in our body, and glucose breaks down fast. Caffeine boosts the usage of fat as a source of energy during exercise. This is advantageous because it extends the life of glucose stored in the muscles, potentially prolonging the time required for your muscles to burn out.
Helps with diabetesCaffeinated coffee or decaffeinated coffee both help in reducing the chances of type 2 diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for controlling the blood sugar level. Caffeine affects its performance by reducing the amount of sugar absorbed in our bodies.
Reduces risk of heart diseasesCardiovascular disease or heart disease leads to heart attacks because of the accumulation of cholesterol in the blood vessels. This cholesterol is what we call bad cholesterol (LDL). This cholesterol blocks the blood vessel, the main cause of heart attack. Caffeine can help reduce LDL in our body, keeping us away from heart diseases.
Side effects of caffeineIs caffeinated coffee good for you? Yes, it is, but there are some drawbacks to your yummy coffee. Negative effects occur when you include a lot of caffeine in your healthy diet. The amount of caffeine is dependent on the brewing technique. For example, tea leaves have a caffeine content of 3.5%, whereas coffee beans have a caffeine content of 1.1–2.2 %. It is not the caffeine content but the brewing technique that affects the amount of caffeine in your drink. The coffee brewing technique involves hotter water, which releases more caffeine from your coffee. Caffeine is released when the powdered bean is infused into water, and it has both beneficial and bad effects on the human body. Now that we know the health benefits let us take a look at the side effects as well.
InsomniaInsomnia is a condition where we can't sleep and stay awake. This might sound pretty simple but can scale up to become a major mental disorder since caffeine affects our normal sleeping process by substituting adenosine. Overdose of caffeine can lead to insomnia.
Caffeine is not a substitute for sleeping.A lot of us think caffeine is a substitute for sleeping. It only helps us stay awake. Too much caffeine can cause brain damage and mental health issues like anxiety and insomnia. How much caffeine can affect our sleep is variable. It depends on each person. Don't overdo it. Have it in moderation.
Upset stomachCaffeine helps in releasing gastrin. Gastrin is a hormone that helps in the secretion of gastric acid that helps in digestion protein. But overdose of caffeine can lead to indigestion or an upset stomach. The excess amount of gastric acid in the stomach further leads to heartburn and damages the stomach's inner lining. It may even lead to diarrhea.
Muscle breakdownAn overdose of caffeine causes muscle breakdown. It is called Rhabdomyolysis in scientific terms and is caused as a result of a sudden overdose of caffeine.
High blood pressureWe saw how caffeine helps reduce the chances of a heart attack, but it can lead to high blood pressure. Caffeine is a stimulator that helps people with low BP. Overdose of caffeine can cause high BP. Avoid caffeine consumption if you are a high BP patient.
The ideal amount of caffeineIs caffeine addictive? Yes, it is hence you should control the amount of caffeine you consume. We saw both the health benefits and side effects of caffeine. Caffeine isn't really harmful to our body, an overdose of caffeine is. Overdose of anything for that matter is harmful. In many people, light-to-moderate caffeine use appears to have significant health advantages. Excessively high doses might induce unpleasant side effects that can make daily life difficult, as well as major health problems.
So, what is the ideal amount of caffeine in our diet?FDA (Food and Drug Administration, U.S) suggests 400 milligrams as the maximum amount of caffeine that healthy adults can consume in a day. This is equal to 4-5 cups of coffee daily. One tablespoon of pure powdered caffeine can be equated to around 28 cups of coffee. You should definitely consider clinical help before you consume such products.
How do you know you have a caffeine overdose?If you experience any symptoms of the side effects that we discussed, it is safe to say that you are consuming an excess amount of coffee every day. To list a few symptoms-
- Upset stomach
- Lack of sleep
- Heart rate increase