The Facts Behind Caffeine
For many, starting the day with a cup of coffee or tea is more than a morning treat – it’s a ritual. Some people could not imagine a life without it; it can stimulate us, put us at ease and for many is a regular part of their day.
If you love to indulge in espresso, meet a friend for a latte, enjoy a cup of tea by the fire on a cold evening then you’re probably already aware of some of the side effects. Afterall, caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world.
But what is caffeine really and what does it do to our bodies?
It Affects Us Internally
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, when it enters our system it decreases our fatigue, increases our concentration levels and keeps us alert and awake.
It takes only 15 minutes after consumption for our bodies to feel these effects and about 3 to 5 hours for the majority of caffeine to leave our systems.
It’s Different for Everyone
Our height, weight and many other physical and genetic traits can alter the way our bodies process caffeine. For instance it takes women on contraceptives twice as long as the average person for their bodies to break down the caffeine, whereas smokers metabolize it twice as quickly as non-smokers.
However, the recommendation for your average daily caffeine intake is 400 milligrams, which is equivalent to 4 cups of coffee or 5 cups of tea.
It Can Cause Problems
As caffeine is such a potent stimulant the main effect it can have on our bodies if we drink too much is sleeplessness and for some people, insomnia. It should be moderated if you have trouble sleeping and it would be wise to avoid before you go to bed.
It is also a diuretic, meaning that it will make you go to the toilet more often. This can be an issue if you have any existing bladder problems and would be best taken in smaller doses. Studies have also found that too much caffeine can increase the chance of incontinence in women.
It can also increase your stomach acids; this can bring on heartburn and should be avoided or moderated for those with ulcers or other digestive conditions.
It’s Really Addictive
In 2004 caffeine withdrawal was officially classified as a disorder. It is believed that it can take less than 24 hours for you to feel the symptoms of withdrawal which include drowsiness, mild headaches and a change in your mood.
It can take only one cup of coffee a day to get you hooked but as caffeine affects us all differently; the effects of withdrawal vary greatly from person to person.
But It Has Long Term Health Benefits
Research has shown that drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee can reduce your chances of developing Parkinson’s by 25% and it can even improve the motor functions of people currently suffering from the disease. It can also potentially lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease in many people.
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So tell us: did any of these facts come as a surprise? Let us know in the comments below.
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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor
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