What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant, classified by most researchers as a drug. That's right—a drug. However, do not let the name "drug" instill fear and hesitancy as caffeine consumption is a norm and frequently accepted in the eyes of society. In fact, not all drugs are bad for our health.
Depending on one's age, height, weight, and exposure levels—under regulated doses—caffeine can be quite beneficial to overall health.
How is this possible, and what are the benefits?
One main source of caffeine is the coffee bean. Coffee beans are seeds loaded with beneficial compounds that aid in reparation, regeneration, and protection of the body. A common theme supported by research believes that certain diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia, and oral cancers can be reduced in correlation with a healthy intake of caffeine.
How is caffeine consumed, and at what levels?
Caffeine is typically consumed in the forms of coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, and even dietary supplements such as "pre-workout" and caffeine concentrate tablets or pills.
Regular dosage of caffeine is around 75 mg per sitting (based on the average cup of black coffee).
Caffeine consumption should not exceed more than 400 mg/day. For avid caffeine users, it is recommended to track caffeine intake.
The effects of caffeine vary on individual's body and brain in accordance with age, height, weight, frequency and exposure levels of caffeine.
Caffeine and the brain:
Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it raises the level of psychological and nervous activity in the body. On a regulatory basis, this is promotes healthy brain function.
At a 75mg/ cup of coffee the European Food Safety Authority has establishes a positive correlation between increased alertness and a longer attention span.
Up to a certain dosage level, caffeine improves memory performance for repetitive tasks such as routine work, to even learning a new language.
Caffeine intake in the recommended doses is positively correlated with higher alertness and faster reaction. Consuming higher than the recommended amount can lead to over stimulation of the brain, which can result in the loss of benefits.
Caffeine and the body:
Contrary to popular belief, there is no supported studies correlating caffeine consumption to weight loss. Also, there is no supportive research that caffeine detoxifies one who has consumed too much alcohol.
Caffeine can affect the body in different ways. We know that it increases nervous activity. It also has the potential to increase heart rate, blood pressure, as well as blood sugar levels.
Because caffeine is a diuretic, it is common for consumers to have increased urine production.
At what point does caffeine become negative?
Caffeine becomes negative when the recommended daily dosages are exceeded and/or caffeine dependence is established.
The signs and symptoms of caffeine dependence are craving, increased anxiety without caffeine, nausea/vomiting, impaired motor function, and loss of focus.
Exceeding the daily amounts or having too much caffeine too quickly, for example in one sitting, can become dangerous for the heart and even deadly.
Where can you find the purest, healthiest forms of caffeine?
Knowing where your caffeine comes from, and how it is processed is a big factor in deciding when and how much to consume.
Caffeine is best to be consumed in the less processed forms with fewest additives possible. For example, high levels of caffeine combined with high levels of glucose and artificial additives can eliminate the possible health benefits normally established.
It is best consumed in forms such as standard black filtered coffee, hot tea, or even dark chocolate.
Wherever you choose to consume caffeine, find shops and organizations that promote purity in their ingredients. Fewer added ingredients are the better choice for your body & mind.
In conclusion, caffeine is beneficial consumed in regulated amounts in accordance with age, height, weight, and previous health conditions established.
See table below for caffeine content of common drinks and food (Coffee&Health.org)
Caffeine consumption should not exceed more than 400 mg/day.