The Positive and Negative of Caffeine Consumption
It's early in the morning, your alarm goes off, and you muster up the energy to get out of bed... but it's caffeine that truly helps you kickstart your day! It usually comes in the form of coffee, but there are endless other interesting sources. While it is widely used as a stimulant, it does have other benefits as well as some drawbacks. To get a better understanding of them, we'll need to take a look at nature's fuel!

What is Caffeine

Caffeine is a chemical compound made by plants. There are approximately over sixty plants known to contain the substance. In its purest form, it is an odorless white powder with a slightly bitter taste.

The History of caffeine

We can trace caffeine back to the Mayan civilization more than 2,600 years ago in the form of a chocolate drink. It has been used in a variety of cultures in new and interesting ways. Here are a few examples:

In 2723 B.C.E. emperor Shen Nung discovered caffeine in ancient China. People drank tea to stay alert and focused during meditation.

In 1519 Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico where he said Montezuma, the Aztec leader, was consuming large quantities of cocoa.

In the sixteenth-century coffee houses were opened in Cairo and Istanbul, and by the seventeenth century, they were spread across Europe.

Cola nuts were a popular commodity chewed by the locals of West Africa for thousands of years. African Islamic people used them as a stimulant and a substitute for alcohol.

These are a few instances where caffeine was used throughout history. However, there are other uses besides diet consumption. Caffeine also has medicinal value.

Medicinal Uses of Caffeine

Boosting metabolism is a well-known effect of caffeine. Weight loss drugs contain it for this reason, but there are other uses that are not as well known. One of those uses is treating headaches in adults. It does so by causing the blood vessels in the brain to constrict by blocking adenosine.

Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that binds to receptors. This causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity. It also causes the dilation of blood vessels to let in more oxygen during sleep. The receptors fill up with caffeine which blocks the adenosine. Without it, the blood vessels stay constricted. This is why some headache medicines contain caffeine to aid in the more severe headaches.

Health Benefits of Caffeine

One aspect of caffeine that may surprise people is the positive impact it has on our health. Caffeine has been shown to reduce our risk of some of the most devastating diseases known to afflict us. For instance, caffeine reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. According to studies, the consumption of caffeine can reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 30%. Drinking decaffeinated coffee also provides a 21% reduction for diabetes. This indicates that coffee has its own benefits of protection against the disease.

Caffeine also improves exercise performance. It increases the body's use of fat for fuel, which allows the glucose in the muscles to last longer. This keeps the muscles from getting tired allowing a more steady and productive work-out.

The improvement of mood and brain function has also been linked to caffeine. The blocking of the above-mentioned adenosine causes other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine to increase. This is the reason for mood and brain function improvement. One study found drinking 2-3 cups of caffeinated coffee daily can provide a 45% lower risk of suicide. It can also reduce depression. While caffeine has its benefits, there is another side of caffeine that may not be so good.

The Negative Impact of Caffeine

It can be tempting to reach for that extra cup of coffee. Caffeine in low to moderate amounts can have tremendous health benefits, but the scales can tip the other way if we aren't careful with our intake. The symptoms of increased caffeine intake are anxiety, nervousness, feeling jittery, and an inability to fall asleep. Not being able to fall asleep due to high intake will cause fatigue, which will lead to the need for more caffeine. This is where the habit-forming aspects of caffeine come into play.

Caffeine triggers the same brain chemicals as cocaine and amphetamines. However, caffeine addiction does not rise to the same level as traditional addictions. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, irritability, low energy, fatigue, poor concentration, and depressed mood. These can be unpleasant but slowly decreasing your intake will allow your body time to adjust to the drop of caffeine in your system.

Caffeine consumption occurs globally every day in many forms. Its benefit to humanity has been incalculable. Keeping a watchful eye on your caffeine intake will grant you the benefits without the negative impact on your health. As with everything in life, moderation is the key to attaining those benefits.

Shop our products

Fresh, Ready-Made Meals Delivered to Your Door

Shop now