Caffeine: The Drinkable Drug
Raising awareness about the benefits and risks of caffeine
“I need caffeine!” It’s 7:30 am and the cold shower you took didn’t wake you up as well as you had hoped. At 11:30 PM, you only have nine hours between you and that final exam. You need something to fend off the beckoning call of your comfortable, lonesome bed that is begging for you to crawl in it and get some shut eye. Whether we are feeling tired, sluggish or just want some pep in our step, caffeine is a universal go to when we need a picker-upper. But what is caffeine and where does it come from?
Caffeine is a natural drug that derives from tea leaves, coffee and cocoa beans and kola nuts. Its most common effect is alertness and the stimulant, when used regularly, can cause the body to develop a minimal dependency. This habit is unlike other drugs- If you decide to go cold turkey, you may experience symptoms, but after a few days, the withdrawal will go away.
Ok, so, now that we know what caffeine is, let’s find out about the effects, both negative and positive, it has on our bodies. Grab a fresh cup of Joe, your favorite organic tea or a soda pop, and let’s expand your knowledge and awareness of the infamous caffeine.
Exercise Benefits- Caffeine even aids in weight loss and can increase your stamina. The combination of caffeine and carbohydrates can speed up the process of muscle glycogen restoration, which, in turn, can sooth your post-workout pains. As someone who constantly falls off the work out horse and is perpetually sore, this is music to my ears .3
Health Conditions– Caffeine has been linked to prevent or reduce symptoms in people who experience the following health conditions or diseases: asthma, kidney stone risk, erectile dysfunction, reduce fatty liver and liver fibrosis risk, lower risk of suicide, strokes, diabetes, cancer, cataracts, Parkinson’s and Alzeimer’s.3
Mind and Body- Caffeine can be used to detox your liver and colon. The stimulant can sharpen your memory skills and alertness, as well as reaction time and logical thinking. Got the eye twitches? Try a cup of coffee to tame it. 3
Sleep interference- This effect is different for everyone, depending on your sensitivity to caffeine. If you have cup of coffee within the six hours before your bed time, there is a chance that you may be tossing a turning due to caffeine overload. 2
Withdrawal Symptoms- As mention above, caffeine is a drug and it can be “addictive.” Not like, “I need to go to rehab,” but more along the lines of, “I’m so cranky and everything is getting on my last nerve.” It’s easier to kick the caffeine by waning your intake over an extended amount of time, but if you do come to an abrupt stop, symptoms include: headaches, tiredness, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and grumpiness. 2
Excessive Intake- Having too much caffeine can have a negative impact on certain individuals. If you are on medication, it is important to know whether or not caffeine will interfere with the effects of your prescription. Consuming caffeine in exaggerated amounts can result in high blood pressure or migraines. Finally, women who are pregnant should consult with doctors about the proper amount of caffeine intake, as it can increase the risk of miscarriage. 1
And there you have it; a snippet of the good and the bad of one of the most beloved natural drugs in consumption. If you want to know more about caffeine and the medical effects it has on you, consult your personal physician.
- Petre, A., MS, RD. (n.d.). What is Caffeine, and is it Good or Bad For Health? Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://authoritynutrition.com/what-is-caffeine/
- Ratini, M., DO,MS (Ed.). (2015, April 13). Caffeine Myths and Facts. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/balance/caffeine-myths-and-facts#1
- Top 24 Caffeine Health Benefits. (2017, January 19). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.caffeineinformer.com/top-10-caffeine-health-benefits