Are you a 2 cup of coffee in the morning person or do you drink Monsters all day? Maybe you fall somewhere in between. Whichever best describes you, you may want to know how caffeine can affect your body.
Caffeine is a stimulant drug. It is known for increasing alertness and focuses but there are many more ways caffeine affects your body. It has been known to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, may increase metabolism, may increase exercise performance, may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and stroke may reduce liver damage, may decrease cancer risk, may reduce developing gout, and may reduce risk of MS. (Healthline, Rivers, A. 2018). That’s a lot of potential advantages!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a daily intake of no more than 400mg, which is about 2-4 cups of coffee a day. However, it is important to realize that caffeine overdose is possible and that you shouldn’t drink more than 200mg at a time. Pregnant women are recommended to limit caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day, because of increased risk of miscarriage and reduced fetal growth. As a frame of reference, a cup of coffee has between 100-200mg, soda has 20-40mg, and energy drinks have 50-160mg. (Healthline. Petre, A. 2020)
So, it seems there are many potential benefits to consuming caffeine but it is important to know that there are many adverse effects of caffeine. For instance, too much caffeine can cause these physical problems; heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, fertility problems, potential increase risk of osteoporosis, and increased blood pressure. (Healthline. Rivers, A, 2018)
Caffeine and Your Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery
The story of caffeine continues to be tricky with regard to mental health and substance abuse recovery. Too much caffeine can leave you with a headache, jittery, and irritability. This can make symptoms of certain mental illnesses worse. It can also trigger those in recovery and put them at risk for relapse. Additionally, caffeine can impact sleep, which is essential for proper body function, emotional regulation, and decision making. All of which are crucial for overall well-being. Caffeine can also impact the effectiveness of certain medications and it would be advisable to discuss your caffeine intake and your medications with your physician.
Should I give up caffeine?
Think about how much caffeine you consume and how it is influencing your life. You may realize that you are dependent on caffeine and that it is having a negative impact on your life. If you are having trouble sleeping, feeling irritable, getting headaches, and having stomach trouble it may be time to work on how much caffeine you consume. A thing to think about, if you have been drinking the same 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning for a long time you may not be getting the effects of the caffeine-like you think because your body has built up a tolerance. You may be just used to the routine, the smell, and the taste, therefore switching to decaf may not be a problem. If you feel you want to decrease the caffeine in your diet it is best to do it slowly to reduce the withdrawal effects.
You don’t have to throw out the coffee pot – but just may want to think about what you put in it!
Ann Pietrangelo. The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body. September 28, 2018.
Alina Petre MS, RD What is Caffeine, and Is it Good or Bad. June 3, 2020.
Autumn Rivers, Caffeine Overdose: How Much is Too Much, December 6, 2018.