Caffeine has been both mocked and praised over the centuries. It has been blamed for its maddening addiction and other times praised for its heavenly gift of curing laziness. Both are heavy arguments. But have you ever wondered what science says about the benefits and risks of caffeine?
Caffeine in a Few Words
Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance, globally. Caffeine is the core reason why coffee has become the world’s most consumed beverage. The beneficial effects aside, coffee in itself is a complex substance that consists of multiple chemical compounds. Several types of research argue that caffeinated and decaf coffee have little or no difference at all. Let us review both the benefits and dangers involved with regular consumption of caffeine.
Benefits of Caffeine
1. Boosts Physical Performance
A cup of black coffee half an hour before workout increases energy and performance. It enhances adrenaline levels in the body. This hormone is responsible for the “fight or flight” response which helps you stay alert and prepared during physical exertion.
2. Maintains Weight
The potassium and magnesium found in coffee help our body absorb more insulin which regulates blood glucose levels while reducing cravings for carbs and sugar. Regular consumption of coffee helps you maintain a well-shaped body.
3. Burns Fat
Similarly, caffeine found in coffee also breaks fat cells and allows our body to consume energy from these fat cells during training or any other physical activity.
4. Improves Focus
One of the key advantages of caffeine is that it improves focus and mental acuity. 1-3 cups of caffeine a day would reduce your sleep time and increase focus during any mental work.
5. Prevents Premature Death
Studies show that caffeine reduces the risk of premature death up to 25%. It prevents heart attacks by keeping blood circulation in good shape.
6. Prevents Cancer
Caffeine prevents the development of basal cell carcinoma which is responsible for several types of skin cancer. Coffee reduces the risk of endometrial and prostate cancer by 25%. People who consume about 2-3 cups of coffee a day are at a lower risk of developing cancer.
7. Prevents Parkinson’s Disease
Research shows that regular consumption of caffeine significantly reduces the chances of developing Parkinson’s disease. The evidence shows that coffee stimulates activity in the area of the brain which is responsible for the development of Parkinson’s disease.
8. Contains Antioxidants
The antioxidants found in coffee fight against free radicals and prevent several types of infections and skin diseases.
9. Prevents Diabetes
By decreasing your insulin sensitivity it impairs glucose tolerance which therefore reduces the chance of developing type II diabetes.
10. Beats Depression/Makes You Happy
Probably the most loved and desired benefit of caffeine is that it enhances the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline, which brightens up your mood. Consuming more than two cups of coffee could reduce the risk of depression and anxiety in young and old people of both sexes. It has also been shown – according to research – to reduce the chances of suicide due to depression by 50%.
Risk Factors of Caffeine
1. Can be Toxic
Just as everything has quality, coffee too has several different types with varying quality. If by any chance you are consuming bad coffee that contains impurities, it could cause infections, sickness, allergies and nausea. Damaged or overripe coffee beans can be injurious to health.
2. Restlessness and Insomnia
It is hard to determine whether or not you are caffeine sensitive. If by any chance you are, it causes restlessness and insomnia. The amount of coffee you should and can tolerate per day depends on your DNA.
3. Unhealthy in Pregnancy
A fetus is sensitive to caffeine. Drinking coffee during pregnancy can affect the development of the fetus. Therefore it is recommended to control the daily intake of caffeine by reducing it to one cup a day during pregnancy.
4. Raises Cholesterol
Patients who have a high cholesterol level should avoid consuming caffeine in a high amount. The two ingredients found in caffeine known as kahweol and cafestol raise the LDL cholesterol in the body. Espresso comparatively could be a little safer for such patients.
Maddening addiction of caffeine is another drawback. Once you get addicted to it, it causes withdrawal effects when you stop its intake. For example, one day without caffeine for addicts would lead to headaches, nausea and anxiety. Caffeine addiction can cause side effects similar to those of smoking, which requires a long period of healing before the withdrawal effects dissipate.
Too much of anything is bad. For some, caffeine is a blessing, while for others it could lead to serious health damage. For example, patients with high cholesterol levels would suffer, whereas sufferers of depression would feel significantly much better because of caffeine. Therefore the benefits and risk factors vary from person to person. As long as you drink the recommended amount and toxin-free quality coffee you should be good. The recommended amount of caffeine a day is normally about two cups.