Written by: Sophie Addison
If you simply cannot resist a cup of coffee in the morning to help you wake up properly, then you are not alone. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, over half of the adult population in the United States are drinking coffee on a regular basis, and 65% of these coffee drinkers are enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning with you. Around 30% of coffee drinkers enjoy having the coffee between meals, while 5% of these statistics account for people who like to have coffee with lunch or dinner.
The ingredient found in coffee that instantly wakes you and helps you get ready for the day is called caffeine. This particular ingredient is not only found in coffee but is also present in tea, as well as some energy drinks like Red Bull. Guarana berries, kola nuts, and cacao beans also contain some caffeine content. According to a review paper published in the Journal of Food Science, caffeine seems to be the particular ingredient found in food and beverages that are most used amongst the global population.
WHAT IS CAFFEINE?
We continue consuming coffee, tea, energy drinks and many other beverages that contain caffeine, but we rarely stop to think about what caffeine is.
While we are going to focus on the benefits and drawbacks caffeine has on your health in this article, we should first explore caffeine in more detail.
First of all, caffeine has been classified as a food additive, as well as a drug, by the Food and Drug Administration.
This may seem strange to you, but if you pick up certain medication from a pharmacy, which often includes certain painkillers, you will notice that caffeine has been added to the tablets. As a food additive, however, caffeine is used to treat symptoms such as drowsiness and tiredness. Medical News Today explains that caffeine is often extracted from a natural source, which includes coffee beans.
In addition to being extracted from coffee beans, caffeine can also be synthesized from a particular chemical compound known as uric acid. Caffeine is a type of drug, or medicine, which is classified as a stimulant, also medically known as central nervous system stimulants.
CAFFEINE and YOUR HEALTH
Now that we have taken a quick look at what exactly the ingredient “caffeine” is, it is time to discuss how this particular ingredient affects your body, your mind, and your health, of course.
We are going to focus on both the positive and negative attributes that caffeine has on your body, and discuss everything this particular ingredient does to you, from acting as a depression treatment to being addictive when taken in too large doses or too frequently.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS of CAFFEINE
Let’s start by discussing the benefits that caffeine has for your body. It is important to note that caffeine does not only provide benefits for your body itself, but also for your brain and mental function. The most obvious benefit, of course, is the fact that caffeine can help you wake up in the morning and help you get through the day if you feel sleepy. This, however, is not the only positive attribute about caffeine.
One particular study also found that the consumption of caffeine may lower the risk of being in an accident when a person has not obtained an adequate amount of sleep, thanks to the fact that caffeine can keep the person alert while driving.
Coffee also has numerous benefits for athletes. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that athletes who consumed coffee, as well as a meal that contained carbs, after they have completed a workout session, were able to regenerate glycogen within their muscles at a 66% faster rate than those without the caffeine and carbs.
A review paper published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which analyzed the results of multiple studies, found that caffeine is also an excellent substance for improving the short-term performance of athletes that participated in high-intensity workout protocols.
Caffeine is also very beneficial for the mind and for cognitive performance. One particular study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University, found that caffeine supplementation is assisting participants with improving memory consolidation. The evidence is also available that proves caffeine to be effective in protecting a person against the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
THE DRAWBACKS OF CAFFEINE
Now that we have considered the positive effects that caffeine has on your health, we should also focus on the negative side of caffeine. The most obvious drawback would be the fact that caffeine tends to keep you up at night if you had a cup of coffee close to bedtime.
This can lead to sleep deprivation as you may not be able to sleep a little later the next morning or you would be late for work. According to Livestrong, caffeine can cause side-effects in some people. These side-effects may include a rapidly beating heart, irritability, an upset stomach, and nervousness.
It is also a fact that coffee can be addictive, which means if you are used to drinking a lot of coffee and suddenly decide to cut back on your consumption of this popular beverage, you may start to experience some withdrawal symptoms.
Millions of people widely consume caffeine all around the world, but we often fail to consider the effects that this stimulant has on our bodies.
It is a commonly known fact that caffeine can keep us awake at night, but evidence also suggests that caffeine is addictive, which is a lesser known fact of this particular substance. On the other hand, caffeine has also been shown to provide certain health benefits that could be advantageous for many people.
The key is to limit your consumption of caffeine – in such a way; you could benefit from the advantages that caffeine has without being affected by its drawbacks.