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Caffeine: The Good and the Bad

It’s the morning jolt billions of us need to start our day. Caffeine, a natural stimulant found in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cacao seeds, quickly affects the brain. It is also one of the most highly studied substances. In an effort to fight tiredness, every day 80% of the world consumes a caffeinated beverage like tea, coffee, or energy drinks.

Here are a few popular caffeinated drinks and their approximate caffeine content (per 8 ounces).:

  • Espresso: 500 mg. (espresso shot: 64 mg.)
  • Coffee: 110 mg.
  • Latte: 77 mg.
  • Energy drinks: 74 mg.
  • Black tea: 47 mg.
  • Soft drinks: 30 mg.
  • Chocolate milk: 5 mg.
  • Decaffeinated coffee: 2 mg.

It’s important to note that certain over-the-counter headache and sinus medications and even chocolate contain amounts of caffeine, so if you’re overly sensitive to caffeine you might want to avoid these. 

The good news is that besides giving you a quick energy boost, coffee is loaded with substances and antioxidants that benefit your overall health too.  

The Good: Health Benefits of Caffeine

  • Increases mental alertness and focus by blocking adenosine, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy
  • Improves physical performance and endurance
  • May increase metabolism, enhancing moderate weight loss efforts over time
  • Works fast, usually within 20 minutes, peaking in about one hour
  • Benefits mood and cognitive function
  • Offers protective potential for brain health
  • Enhances short-term recall and reaction time
  • May offer blood sugar, liver and cardiovascular protection
  • Helps relax airways for increased oxygen
  • Fosters longevity due to its numerous health benefits

The Bad: Effects of Caffeine

High doses of caffeine can produce anxiety, palpitations, and insomnia, and can interfere with certain anti-anxiety drugs. It may also slightly raise blood pressure in some people. Caffeine can become addictive and withdrawal can lead to headaches, shakiness and digestive upset. Caffeine can irritate the bladder, creating urgency and upset the GI tract causing stomach upset, diarrhea or acid reflux.

How Much is Safe to Drink Each Day?

It’s safe for most of us to drink two to four cups of coffee daily for a maximum intake of 400 milligrams of caffeine. Listen to your body and be mindful of how you feel after consuming caffeine. Everyone is different, so if one cup of decaffeinated does the trick for you, then that’s what’s right for you. Keep in mind, you can build up a tolerance to caffeine and more may be needed over time for the same benefits.  

For other energy options, check out these products.