Caffeine increases the activity of the brain and nervous system. It is a substance that stimulates metabolism, mood, physical, and mental performance.
Millions of people consume caffeine to drag themselves out of bed in the morning and keep them going. Caffeine affects the body in several ways. The question is, is the reliance on caffeine harmful or helpful? It is beneficial in many ways.
It increases our energy and helps us power through our day. But it’s safe for people when consumed from low to moderate levels. High consumption of caffeine can cause severe and dangerous effects.
HOW MUCH CAFFEINE IS TOO MUCH?
400 milligrams of caffeine per day is more than enough for adults. It is roughly equal to the amount of coffee in four 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee, two ‘energy shots’ drinks, and 10 cans of cola. Teens should intake 100 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is equal to almost one 8-ounce cup of coffee or cans of cola.
Although caffeine can be save for some adults, it is not good for children. Young adults and adolescents should be cautious about excessive caffeine intake.
Caffeine is not a good choice for people who are highly sensitive to its effects or who take certain medications.
CAFFEINE IN POWDERED OR LIQUID FORM
Powdered or liquid caffeine can provide a toxic level of caffeine. One tablespoon of powdered caffeine is equivalent to 28 cups of coffee and a half cup of a liquid highly concentrated caffeine product is equal to more than 20 cups of coffee. High levels of caffeine can cause major health problems and possibly death.
SOURCES OF CAFFEINE
There are many sources of caffeine. Here is a list of some sources of caffeine:
Coffee is a brewed beverage, which is prepared from a natural source of caffeine, called coffee bean. Coffee is consumed mostly for its stimulating effects, which enhances alertness and energy level.
Caffeine in a cup of coffee or 8 ounces of brewed coffee is almost 100 milligrams. Different coffee products contain different amounts of caffeine. So read the nutrition label to be aware of the amount of caffeine per serving of coffee.
It is also a natural source of caffeine. Green tea contains amino acids like theanine, which act on the hippocampus of the brain and exert stress reducing effects. An 8 ounce serving or a cup of green tea contains 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine, which is half of the caffeine content of a cup of coffee.
The caffeine content of green tea depends on the age of the leaf. Older leaves contain less caffeine than younger ones.
Cacao beans naturally contain caffeine. The amount of caffeine in the chocolate depends on the percentage of cacao present in it.
100% cacao chocolate contains 240 milligrams of caffeine. Milk chocolate (33% cacao) has 45 milligrams of caffeine., which is equal to the amount of caffeine in a cup of black tea. Bittersweet chocolate that has 55% cacao contains 124 milligrams of caffeine.
Chewing gum is a soft, rubbing substance made from tree sap. It is not a natural source of caffeine but the manufacturers can include caffeine in the recipes of chewing gum. Caffeine in chewing gum is absorbed in the body faster than that in capsule form.
Caffeine is also present in many energy drinks. The caffeine content of energy drinks ranges from 50 to 505 milligrams depending on the brand.
EFFECTS OF TOO MUCH CAFFEINE
Caffeine affects our bodies in several ways. Some of the caffeine side effects are given below:
HIGH HEART RATE
Caffeine has many effects on the heart as well as the central nervous system. A high intake of caffeine can cause the heart beat faster. Within the heart, the receptors in the cells are stimulated by the caffeine and increase the heart rate. As the heart beats faster, the blood flow speeds up too.
Even 50 to 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is the amount present in ½ to 3 cups of coffee, can increase the heart rate above 100 beats per minute. It can cause atrial fibrillation, which is an altered heartbeat rhythm.
So if you notice changes in the heartbeat rhythm or heart rate after drinking caffeinated beverages, then consider reducing the caffeine intake.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Caffeine can lower the blood pressure when consumed before exercise, or at high doses as well as in people who rarely consume it. It can damage arteries over time, restricting the flow of blood to the brain and heart.
So elevated blood pressure may cause heart attack and stroke. High caffeine intake may raise blood pressure during exercise in healthy people and those with mildly elevated blood pressure.
The effect of caffeine on blood pressure is temporary. It seems to have the strongest effect on people who are not used to consuming it.
One of the most important benefits of caffeine is its ability to help people stay awake. On contrary, too much caffeine can make it difficult to get enough restorative sleep. Higher caffeine intake may lessen the total sleeping time, especially in elders. It may also increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
A small amount of sleep loss can disturb your daytime alertness and performance.
Overuse of caffeine can lead to insomnia symptoms or worsen pre-existing insomnia. Consuming caffeine to stay awake can lead to sleeplessness, frequent nighttime awakenings, and overall poorer sleep quality.
Low or moderate caffeine content doesn’t seem to affect sleep very much. You should cut off caffeine consumption by the early afternoon to avoid problems related to sleep.
Many people ask why caffeine makes me tired. The answer is that caffeine enhances alertness by interfering with certain chemical processes in the brain that regulate the sleep-wake cycle. But once the body completely metabolizes caffeine, it can make you feel tired. To reduce the fatigue effect of caffeine consume it at a moderate rate rather than using high doses.