Caffeine: friend or foe? You decide.
Everyday necessity or occasional treat?
Don’t despair if you can’t kick your caffeine habit. Flavored teas, decaf coffee, and green juices are great alternatives to experiment with in lieu of your regular caffeinated pick-me-up. Whichever way you prefer to consume caffeine, there are both health benefits and harms to consider.
Even in relatively low doses of 250mg, caffeine has been shown to stimulate alertness and improve mental performance.
At 250mg, some report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness, and sociability.
Studies suggest that caffeine can help you perform a variety of cognitive tasks, such as recognizing visual patterns more quickly.
Some sources note that caffeine allows athletes to exercise for longer duration without hitting exhaustion. Although the mechanism is not yet known, caffeine affects the utilization of glycogen during workouts. Glycogen is the main fuel for muscles. Once depleted, exhaustion occurs. Caffeine decreases the use of glycogen stores during workouts up to 50% allowing for longer workouts.
Reduced muscle pain
Some researchers have found that caffeine may potentially stimulate the release of B-Endorphins and hormones that depress the sensation of pain or discomfort.
Faster effects of medication
Caffeine constricts the blood vessels and helps the body absorb medications more quickly, which is why it is added to some pain medications.
Coffee contains minerals and antioxidants which help prevent diabetes. Frank Hu, MD, one of the authors of “The Harvard Study,” theorizes it may be because caffeine stimulates muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently.
Antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. If a free radical is formed in a cell and it is not neutralized, it can damage the DNA of the cell.
Caffeine keeps dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Harvard researchers have found that men who drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day are half as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as those who refrain from consuming caffeinated beverages.
Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can be therapeutic for people with asthma. Caffeine in the form of coffee may be used to prevent an asthma attack for emergency cases, but is not intended to replace medication.
Approximately four cups of coffee or a beverage with equivalent amounts of caffeine can raise blood pressure for many hours. The elevated blood pressure levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Caffeine consumption in the early morning affects the body until bedtime, amplifying stress levels throughout the day. Caffeine increases stress hormones and elevates one’s perception of stress. Decreasing coffee and caffeinated beverages will help to lower often exaggerated stress-reactions.
When more than 2 grams of caffeine enters the body, the heart becomes stimulated and blood vessels dilate. Shortly after, blood pressure increases causing bronchial relaxation in the lungs and increased breathing. These physiological reactions tend to cause irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and agitation.
Blood sugar swings
Type 2 diabetics should be aware that caffeine may potentially impair insulin’s action, causing a detectable rise in blood sugar levels. Approximately 2 to 2.5 cups per day may cause this effect.
Because it is a stimulant, caffeine can cause increased contractions of stomach muscles – possibly causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and increased bowel movements. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or colitis may want to be extra cautious before choosing caffeinated beverages.
Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and trace minerals.
Male Health Problems
Research shows that men can significantly reduce their risk for urinary and prostate problems by making dietary changes, which include eliminating coffee and caffeine.
Female Health Problems
Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight, and menopausal problems such as hot flashes are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they tend to have a decreased ability to detoxify caffeine.
Caffeine tolerance may decrease with age. Production of DHEA, melatonin, and other vital hormones decline with age. Caffeine helps to speed up this process. Caffeine also dehydrates the body, contributes to aging of the skin and kidneys, inhibits DNA repair, and slows the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins.
Caffeine is a stimulant which binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of complex reactions, which causes an increase of stimulation at the adrenal glands. This can increase vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue.
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