Is Caffeine Good For You?

Published 5/14/13

What Is Caffeine?

Scientifically speaking, caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that is used as a stimulant drug. In layman terms, caffeine is used to provide an energy spike. Caffeine is the world’s most common stimulant and the world’s most consumed psychoactive substance. In humans, caffeine is activated in the central nervous system as it provides a temporary relief from drowsiness and helps restore a higher level of awareness. Caffeine gains its stimulating effect as a result of being able to block the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter, called adenosine. The blockage of the inhibitory effects of Adenosine causes an increase in neuronal activity within the brain and results with a boost of energy. Caffeine is found in various types of leaves and seeds but is most commonly harvested from coffee pants and tea bushes. Typically, caffeine is consumed in a liquid state as part of coffee, teas, sodas, or energy drinks.

Benefits of Caffeine

In moderate amounts, there are very little health risks associated with caffeine. It can cause anxiety and can produce sleep disruption as a result of caffeine’s simulating characteristic but other than that caffeine doesn’t offer a lot of negative side effects. Caffeine has been associated with lowering the risk of diabetes, colon cancer, and gallstones. Caffeine can even reduce the risks of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases because it stimulates brain activity and encourages central nervous system, keeping those systems in shape. It also helps you be more alert and increases your ability to concentrate.

Caffeine Side Effects

In moderate amounts, caffeine is a great thing. However, in large amounts, caffeine begins to have negative effect on your body and may even be toxic. Heavy caffeine consumers develop a tolerance of caffeine, which can result in more caffeine needing to be consumed before that user can experience the stimulating effect of caffeine. Some caffeine consumers develop a dependence on caffeine after consuming it for so long and it large quantities. Heavy caffeine consumers say their body and mind cannot properly function or fully wake up unless they intake caffeine. Heavy users can also experience headaches as part of caffeine withdrawals if they do not consume caffeine for a long period of time. 

Myths about Coffee

- Caffeinated beverages dehydrate you. FALSE. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you pee more often, but the beverage you are consuming the caffeine with will replace the lost fluids. If you take caffeine via pills, it will dehydrate you so be sure to drink lots of water with the pills.

- Caffeine is bad for your heart. FALSE. Caffeinated beverages may elevate your cholesterol but that has more to do with the beverage you are consuming rather than the caffeine itself.  Caffeine does increase your heart rate but not in a negative manner.

- Caffeine is addicting. FALSE. Caffeine itself is not addicting. Your body and mind may become dependent on it in order to fully wake up and become alert, but this is not an addiction.

Caffeine Content

Beverages with the highest caffeine content are Venti Starbucks coffee (415-milligrams), 5-Hour Energy (208-milligrams), Monster Energy drink (160-milligrams), Rockstar Energy drink (160-milligrams), Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (175-milligrams), Black Tea (80-milligrams), Pepsi MAX (70-milligrams), Mountain Dew (54-milligrams), and Diet Coke (47-milligrams).



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