For most people, the first thing they do in the morning is pour themselves a cup of coffee or tea. In fact, it’s estimated that over 1.6 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. But is all that caffeine really good for you? If not, what are the negative effects on your health?
The USDA estimates that the average person consumes roughly 300mg of caffeine every day, which is the equivalent of two to four cups of coffee. This is considered a moderate amount of caffeine. Many studies have shown that a moderate amount of caffeine can be beneficial to your health.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can be derived from over 60 different plant sources. In moderate amounts it can improve focus and concentration while fighting sleepiness. One study found that drinking three cups of coffee per day could reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 50 percent. Another study suggests that drinking four cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of mouth and throat cancer by 50 percent as well.
Consuming caffeine has also been shown to have positive effects on brain function. Recent research has found that consuming 200mg of caffeine each day can boost long-term memory. Other studies have shown that moderate caffeine intake can protect the body against health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
However, consuming any amount higher than 500-600mg of caffeine per day can bring some pretty serious negative side effects. High amounts of caffeine consumption can cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, mood swings, irritability, increased heart rate, nausea and even muscle tremors. Some studies have shown that increased caffeine consumption may even lead to a premature death.
Caffeine tends to affect every individual differently, which could be why there is so much conflicting information about its health benefits and/or risks. For example, people suffering from anxiety disorders may experience increased symptoms of anxiety after consuming caffeine. In addition, people who smoke cigarettes metabolize caffeine twice as quickly as non-smokers. On the other hand, people with liver disease, pregnant women and small children metabolize caffeine much slower, which can increase the risk for caffeine intoxication.
Because caffeine is a stimulant and technically a drug, an addiction can also develop. With addiction comes withdrawal. Some individuals who become physically dependent on caffeine can experience severe withdrawal symptoms if the usual intake is not maintained. These symptoms can include headaches, severe fatigue and drowsiness, depression, irritability, mood swings, difficulty concentrating and even nausea/vomiting. Some people become so dependent on caffeine that even when educated about the negative side effects, they are physically and mentally unable to stop consumption.
Overall, caffeine is relatively safe in moderation. However, it’s important to monitor your individual reaction to caffeine. If you start to feel dependent on caffeine to function or start experiencing negative side effects, you may want to decrease or eliminate your caffeine consumption altogether.