The Effects of Caffeine on the Body
How much coffee is too much and what are the effects of caffeine on the body? Would it benefit you to switch to a decaffeinated coffee and what is the best decaf coffee?
Coffee has been dubbed a psychoactive substance. That makes it sound like some kind of exotic drug! Basically, what it means is that the caffeine found in coffee beans is a central nervous system stimulant. There’s a fine line between drinking enough coffee to make you feel more awake and energetic, and overdoing it and getting the jitters.
Most coffee fanatics have crossed this fine line a few times and paid the price, lying awake at night unable to sleep. Yet some people do claim that a cup of coffee before bedtime makes them sleep better!
After drinking coffee for a few years, you become more aware of the effects of caffeine on your body. It’s estimated that in the United States, about 80% of the population take in some form of caffeine every day.
Caffeine is not only found in coffee, but also in tea, Kola nuts (Used as a flavoring ingredient in some Cola beverages), Cacao bean (Used as the basis for chocolate) as well as many over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Why would they put it in medication? To counter the drowsiness side effect of many medications.
How Much Coffee is too Much?
It’s estimated that it is safe to consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day. An average cup of coffee contains about 95mg of caffeine. So as soon as you go over about four cups of coffee a day, you might be overdoing the caffeine and putting your body at risk.
If you start consuming roughly the same amount of caffeine every day, your body will develop a tolerance to it. The factors influencing your specific tolerance level will include your age, body mass and personal health conditions. It’s important to realize that caffeine can interact negatively with certain medications, so take care when you consume it.
According to the FDA standards, consuming close to 600mg a day is commonly considered too much. To put that into a cup ratio, that’s between four to seven cups of coffee. A standard size cup of coffee is eight ounces. If you use a mug or get your daily fix at a local coffee house, chances are you’re drinking about sixteen ounces or more.
How Exactly Does it Work?
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system including the heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure. It can cause blood pressure to rise, but if you use it all the time it won’t necessarily have this effect on you.
Caffeine reaches your brain quickly and the most noticeable effect is alertness. It can help you feel more awake and less tired. But be warned, what it basically does is to trick your brain into thinking you’ve got more energy available than what is really there.
Have you ever experienced that moment when it feels like your system almost crashes instantly? That’s the moment the caffeine wears off and your brain realizes what has been going on, your energy resources are actually low.
The Potent Black Liquid
If your body is used to consuming lots of caffeine and you decide to suddenly stop drinking coffee, you will most like experience withdrawal symptoms. If you decide to stop, it’s advisable to decrease your consumption slowly. Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, lack of concentration and grumpiness.
Strangely enough caffeine actually has no nutritional value. But it can definitely affect your mood. Research has found the following positive effects of caffeine.
Firstly, caffeine has been found to increase memory. It also helps keep you alert while driving or during long periods of sleep restriction. It improves your reaction time and logical reasoning during sleep restriction.
If mixed with carbs, it replenishes muscle glycogen concentrations faster after exercise. Research has proven that caffeine can relieve post-workout muscle pain by up to 48%. Furthermore, caffeine can increase your stamina during exercise and help to burn more fat by increasing the heart rate during exercise.
Caffeine can also be used to detox the liver and to cleanse the colon when taken as an enema. Caffeine has also been known to stimulate hair growth, perfect to save balding men and women from embarrassment.
In addition, advanced research has found that caffeine may protect against Parkinson’s disease. It was found that those who consume coffee are at less risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and it could even reduce the risk of those genetically prone to the condition. It can also help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease.
And the list goes on!
Other health benefits of caffeine include protection against eyelid spasms and cataracts. Research has suggested it may assist in preventing skin cancer. A study also showed that caffeinated coffee lovers have less risk of developing melanoma.
Men who consumed caffeine on a regular basis showed increased semen volume and significantly less sperm DNA fragmentation. Also, men who consumed between 250 to 375mg of caffeine per day have a much lower risk of developing erectile dysfunction. The reduced risk was even observed when consuming as little as 85mg of caffeine per day. For women, caffeine may prevent tinnitus, which is characterized by a constant ringing in the ears.
It has also been suggested that caffeine reduces kidney stone risk, helps with asthma and it may also prevent weight gain. Have we convinced you yet to grab that cup of coffee?!
The Flipside of the Effects
Although we want to believe that coffee is only amazing, wonderful and awesome, it does have a few negative side effects on our bodies. If you like to drink more than four cups of coffee per day, you might be overdoing it, which could lead to potential health problems in the future. But many of the negative side effects associated with too much caffeine have also been linked with generally unhealthy lifestyle habits.
If you suffer from hypertension, caffeine can possibly raise blood pressure and it may cause an increased risk of heart attacks among young adults. It’s important to be aware of the state of your general health so that you know how much caffeine you can consume. Caffeine is linked to gout attacks and can also cause indigestion, but this happens when you have a binge spree.
It has been claimed that more serious side effects include breast tissue cysts in women, increased risk of developing incontinence, reduced fertility in women and increased miscarriage risk. It has also been suggested that caffeine is not healthy for type two diabetics. More everyday side effects can include insomnia and headaches.
Like any substance, caffeine can affect different people in different ways. It’s important to know your body and be aware of any noticeable side effects as a result of your coffee consumption. Especially if you have existing health conditions or have other considerations such as pregnancy. However, drinking coffee in moderation will have few negative issues for most healthy adults.
The Alternative: Decaffeinated
One way to reduce the possible impact of too much caffeine is to incorporate decaffeinated coffee into your daily schedule. For example, you could substitute that fifth or sixth mug for a decaffeinated brand. It’s particularly a good idea to do so after about six o’clock in the evening if you are sensitive to caffeine keeping you awake at night.
Interesting Fact! A German merchant, Ludwig Roselius, created the first commercially successful decaffeination process in 1903 and had it patented in 1906. He accidentally stumbled upon this method when a freight of his coffee beans was soaked in sea water. The beans lost much of their caffeine, without losing too much taste.
Coffee beans are always decaffeinated in their green, unroasted state. The greatest challenge is to separate the caffeine from the beans without losing the other ingredients, such as sucrose, that provide the taste and aroma that is so loved by coffee drinkers.
A common complaint is that decaffeinated coffee either lacks taste, stripped via the process of decaffeination, or has unwanted flavors introduced by the additional processing. However, more recently, there are coffees on the market which can survive the rigorous process and still provide great tasting coffee. But you have to start with a quality coffee bean!
Three of the Top Rated Decaf Coffees
To ensure the decaffeinated coffee lovers are not neglected, we provide our recommendation for three of the most popular decaffeinated coffees on the market below:
The natural water process used in the production of this medium roasted decaffeinated coffee ensures the coffee beans provide the natural caramel and cocoa flavors even without the caffeine. Unlike other organic coffees, the Café Don Pablo beans provide a strong and robust taste.
As the coffee comes as whole beans the freshness of the coffee is retained and not weakened through a freeze dried process. We recommend to grind the coffee beans just before brewing, and brew in an insulated French press in order to maintain the coffee at the optimum brewing temperature and avoid any unwanted bitterness, for the best possible results.
These coffee beans have received rave reviews for their rich, bold and satisfying earthy flavor without being too acidic. Kicking Horse coffee is 100% organic and fairtrade certified. Perhaps too bitter and overpowering for some, this product packs a serious punch with strong flavors which can be hard to find in a decaffeinated coffee.
This quality decaffeinated coffee from Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, is advertised as using the most clear and pure water from the glaciers on the highest and most beautiful mountain in Mexico. It certainly tastes like quality coffee with a rich and creamy texture with chocolate flavors and all the body of non-decaf. Packed fresh immediately after roasting, these beans have a wonderful aroma with no bitterness or burned taste to the resulting coffee.
Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC also produce Colombian, Mexican SWP, and Indian Monson varieties of decaf coffee. The Sumatra beans are one of the best decaffeinated coffees on the market…give them a try, you will not be disappointed.
What’s the Verdict? Good or Bad?
Health studies can be very contradictory! For example, one study claims that caffeine consumption can lead to increased anxiety, depression and the need for anxiety medication. Yet another study claims to show that caffeine consumers have a lower risk of suicide.
Health research remains a strange science. Things we thought were super dangerous fifty years ago turned out to be not so scary and things we thought were harmless, turned out to be monsters in disguise.
The bottom line, as with most things in life, is moderation. Drinking a cup of coffee every half an hour, for several weeks will most likely have a detrimental effect on your body. But enjoying a few cups of coffee per day might just help you survive a crazy week at the office and have several health benefits.