The Effects of Caffeine on Your Health - Negative and Positive

There are both negative and positive effects of caffeine on your health.  Its consumed so much that most people reach for it without even thinking. Scary how it's become an almost automated response. But why?

Because most of us want to stay more alert so we can be more focused on daily tasks. And, who can resist a foamy latte or a scrumptious chocolate bar anyway?





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Ever tried energy drinks to boost your energy? I tried them once and was bouncing off the walls! That won't happen again! According to researchers, popular energy drinks like Red Bull cause the heart rate to race at much higher rates which is dangerous for people with heart conditions or heart problems.

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Caffeine Consumption

Caffeine consumption has vastly increased which goes to show you how tired people really are. People consume high amounts of caffeine because they are worn down from working longer hours and are looking for other sources of energy besides the nutrition they get. Coffee and energy drinks are high in demand and sales reflect and support that.

Think about the sales of Starbucks coffee all over the world. People are demanding legal ways to stay awake longer, but too much caffeine may have some long term health consequences for your heart and your health. On the flip side, caffeine in smaller doses may be beneficial!

Caffeine is commonly associated with coffee, energy drinks, chocolate, sodas, and tea. Soft drinks typically contain about 10 to 50 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Energy drinks such as Red Bull contain as much as 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving. A typical 28-gram serving of a milk chocolate bar has about as much caffeine as a cup of decaffeinated coffee.

One serving of coffee ranges from 40 milligrams for a single shot of espresso, to about 100 milligrams for a cup of drip coffee. Generally, dark-roast coffee has less caffeine than lighter roasts as the roasting process reduces the bean's caffeine content. (Who'd have thunk?)

What are the physical effects of caffeine on the body?

Caffeine increases heartbeat, respiration, basal metabolic rate, and the production of stomach acid and urine. It also relaxes smooth muscles, notably the bronchial muscles. These reactions start anywhere from 15 - 45 minutes after caffeine is consumed, except in the central nervous system which is affected between 30 - 60 minutes after ingestion. These approximations depend largely on the fluctuations of hormonal status, smoking, medications, and liver function.

Studies have also shown that excesses in caffeine decrease reaction times to both visual and auditory stimulus. It can also diminish performance of manual tasks that involve delicate muscular coordination and accurate timing.

*It is interesting however to note, that it does not significantly alter numerical reasoning (arithmetic skills) or short term memory.

As bad as some of these things may sound, caffeine may have gotten a bad rap. There are many misconceptions about the effects of caffeine on your health. (This section is very interesting so you may want to grab of large cup of Joe!)

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The Effects of Caffeine on Your Health

Cirrhosis of the Liver - According to new research, drinking coffee may counteract alcohol’s poisonous effects on your liver and help prevent cirrhosis.

In a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day reduced the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups a day reduced the risk by 80 percent. The effects of caffeine (drinking coffee) held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds. The same study found coffee drinkers had healthier results on blood tests used to measure liver function, whether or not the person drank a lot of alcohol.

*It is unclear whether it is the caffeine or some other ingredient in coffee that provides the protection.

Headache - There is no doubt in the correlation between headache's and caffeine. People who consume caffeine regularly are subject to caffeine withdrawal if they abstain for a day or so. Symptoms may present as a terrible headache and excessive sleepiness. Side effects of caffeine withdrawal can last for 2 - 3 days.

Headaches caused by caffeine withdrawal led researchers to study the effects of caffeine on people with persistent headaches or migraines. Research found that caffeine actually benefits people who get migraines or frequent headaches. Over the counter medications like Excedrin® combine aspirin, caffeine and acetaminophen and are thought to be most effective in treating headaches. Migraine sufferers who take caffeine supplements during the first signs of a migraine get almost instant relief. The effects of caffeine are beneficial to most anyone who suffers from regular headaches.

Heartburn - The effects of caffeine found in coffee can relax sphincter muscles at the lower end of the esophagus, which may allow stomach contents to flow back up into the esophagus. This is called commonly called heartburn.

*Caffeine by itself, has no effect on sphincter muscles, so other substances in coffee apparently must be responsible for causing heartburn.

Ulcers - Caffeine may increase the secretion of both acid and pepsin in the stomach, which may exacerbate existing ulcers. Both regular and decaffeinated coffee can stimulate gastric mucosa and increase stomach acid secretion.

*Caffeine is probably not the only component of coffee responsible for making ulcers worse.

Fibrocystic Breast Disease - In the 70's and 80's, several well-publicized studies linked the effects of caffeine with benign Fibrocystic Breast Disease (FBD). However, more recent investigations have not supported these studies. Women may notice a decrease in palpable breast lumps when they limit their caffeine consumption, although research has not shown a direct association.

Heart Problems - The effects of caffeine has been shown to cause irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias) in certain people. Many times people with heart disease are told to avoid caffeine altogether.

*There is however, no evidence shows that caffeine causes heart disease.

Heart Disease - The relationship between drinking coffee and heart disease has been investigated in numerous studies over the years. However, these risks have not been clearly documented.

Recent studies at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute found heavy coffee drinkers (defined as 5+ cups per day) were 2 - 3 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than were non coffee consumers. This relationship was true even when they accounted for other important risk factors such as age, smoking habits, serum cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Some researchers found that within 4 hours of consuming various types of coffee, blood pressure increased and heart rates spiked. Blood pressure increased approximately 10 percent for the systolic rate, 8 percent for the diastolic rate, and overall heart rates increased 11 percent. Researchers noted that these levels are of little danger for healthy young adults but can be dangerous for elderly people with heart conditions.

The study did not account for the effects of diet, sedentary lifestyle, or high levels of occupational stress. Nor did it indicate the exact quantity of coffee consumed, the type of coffee (decaffeinated or regular), the brewing method, or the use of cream or sugar in the coffee consumed.

If coffee drinking does increase the risk of heart disease, it may do so through its effect on cholesterol levels. A few studies have linked heavy coffee consumption to elevated total serum cholesterol, although caffeine alone does not seem to be responsible.

It may not even be the caffeine that causes heart problems but a high-calorie diet among heavy caffeine users that increases the risk for heart disease. Increased caffeine consumption by men has been associated with higher levels of cortisol, which increases the urge to consume more fatty foods which in turn increases cholesterol.

These results were said to be clinically significant for those who take medication to treat heart conditions - as energy drinks or high consumptions of coffee may adversely affect the effectiveness of heart medications. Caffeine is often used to perform activities that require focus and high intensity, however heart rates increased for these participants while they were stationary too, such as while watching TV shows or playing cards.

Researchers advise anyone who has a heart condition to avoid high amounts of caffeine until further research is done. In fact, moderation is key for everyone when you consider what you consume and relate it to your health! Many doctors suggest that you avoid caffeine altogether until further studies on the effects of caffeine have been done.

High levels of caffeine have been linked to cancer, cardiovascular problems, extreme mood swings, and psychological dependence. If you have heart problems and want to stay away from caffeine altogether, there are some natural alternatives to boost energy. The page is listed just below...


Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.





Related Pages on This Site

Boost Energy Levels Naturally Without Caffeine

10 Healthy Foods to Include in Your Diet Regularly!

Boosting Immunity by Maintaining Nutrition

The Benefits of Lemon Water for Health and Beauty

Infused Water - Slenderizing and Refreshing!

6 Detox Foods That Help Rectify Overindulgence

Resources

How Caffeine Affects the Body
There's a really good graphic on this page that explains how caffeine affects the body, so check it out!

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