Is Caffeine Bad for My Health?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in beverages and food alike. Not only does it block the neurotransmitters that make us feel tired, but it also increases our alertness by stimulating the brain and central nervous system. While consuming caffeine in moderation can be beneficial, it’s important to understand the effects that too much caffeine can have on our physical and mental health.
Individual differences, including our genetic makeup, can impact how effectively we metabolize caffeine. Most healthy individuals can tolerate a moderate amount of caffeine on a regular basis without experiencing negative side effects.
How Much is Too Much?
While the recommended maximum intake is 400 mg of caffeine per day (roughly four cups of black coffee), this amount may be too much. You may want to consider reducing your daily caffeine intake if you experience:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Racing thoughts
- Worsened anxiety or panic attacks
- Increased sweating or cold/clammy hands
- Increased nervousness or fidgeting
- Muscle tremors or shakes
- Heart palpitations
Caffeine and Blood Pressure
Slow metabolizers of caffeine can have an increased risk for hypertension compared to those who metabolize caffeine at a regular rate. Depending on your specific situation, you may need to consume less caffeine.
Caffeine and Dehydration
Caffeine primarily affects the brain, gut, and liver. However, it also has a diuretic effect on the kidneys stimulating urine production. Increased urine production decreases the overall water and electrolyte content of our bodies. For every cup of caffeinated beverage that you drink, you should add an extra glass of water to help re-hydrate your body.
Caffeine and Mood
While caffeine can increase energy, be mindful that caffeine is a stimulant that essentially places you in a state of fight or flight. If you experience high levels of stress or anxiety, consuming too much caffeine will make these symptoms worse.
Not sure if caffeine is affecting your well-being? Try eliminating all caffeine from your routine to
see if you notice any improvements. Keep track of how you are feeling each day and note changes in: sleep, stress, anxiety, nervousness, and irritability.
Caffeine and Sleep
Caffeine impacts every aspect of sleep, from our ability to fall and stay asleep to its overall quality. As your body develops a tolerance for caffeine’s energizing effects, you’ll need to consume greater amounts to experience these benefits. This can lead to dehydration and poor sleep quality, both of which contribute to low energy levels!
The effects of caffeine can last up to 10 hours! To improve the quality of your sleep, try eliminating all caffeine after 12 pm.
Energy drinks are marketed as energy boosters that increase our mental clarity and physica performance. Alongside caffeine, energy drinks also contain:
- B vitamins
The combination of caffeine and other stimulants makes energy drinks particularly potent. This potency can result in a range of negative side-effects, from increased anxiety to poor-quality sleep. Additionally, energy drinks are often full of sugar. They can easily contribute to weight gain by causing major spikes and dips in our blood sugar levels and increasing calorie consumption. For your overall health and well-being, try to limit or avoid consuming energy drinks as much as possible.
Effects of Caffeine: Fun Facts and Tips
- Coffee is high in antioxidants known as polyphenols. These antioxidants help to protect your cells from damage and diseases like heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes. Just remember to keep it to a max of 4 cups per day and even less (2 cups per day) if you have the genetic variation indicating you are a slow metabolizer.
- Chocolate contains caffeine, but the amount will depend on the percentage of cacao in the chocolate. Dark chocolate (60-90% cacao) can contain upwards of 30 mg per serving. On the other hand, milk chocolate contains less than 20 mg per serving.
- Looking for a coffee substitute? Try roasted dandelion root tea. It has a bold, earthy flavor that is similar to coffee, offering you the taste and comfort of a warm cup of coffee without caffeine!
- If reducing your coffee intake is in the cards, do it slowly. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can be eased by reducing your intake gradually over the course of a few days. Try swapping one cup of coffee for green or black tea to ease the transition.
Ultimately, if you experience low energy throughout the day? Dehydration or low blood sugar may be the culprits. Try drinking water and eating a balanced snack to curb your fatigue. You can also try a brisk walk for a boost!
We hope the tips you learned in this blog post help you make the most of your time. Follow us on Facebook for more tips like the ones found in this blog post.