Quick! What is the most widely used drug in the Western Hemisphere? 3 guesses.
Marijuana? Try again
Dr. Pepper? Yes! Well, kind of.
Even though we don’t think about it much, caffeine is a drug. That being said, so is ibuprofen; just because something is a drug does not mean that it is inherently bad. But there are some risks to be aware of. Today we will be exploring the goods and the bads of caffeine consumption.
We’ll start with some positives. The obvious is that caffeine can make you feel more awake and alert and ready to start your day. This is particularly useful on those Monday mornings in January when it is so hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed,
let alone accomplish anything productive (I live in the Northwest so the sun doesn’t rise in the winter time until after 8 o’clock. Yeah, its hard to get up when the sun isn’t up). Also, according to one study published by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, caffeine can increase fat oxidation (read fat loss) a small amount. This same study said that consuming caffeine can increase satiety among it’s consumers. However, this did not really change the eating habits of any of the test subjects.
Now the not-so-great things about caffeine. Just like any drug, you can develop a tolerance to it. So what used to perk you up on a cold, dark, Monday morning, you now need every day just to function, and extra to get you awake on those particularly hard mornings, and excessive caffeine intake can have some detrimental effects on your health.
A quote from an article published by Europe PMC says this: “Caffeine administered acutely to non-users or recent abstainers can induce hypertension, arrhythmia, altered myocardial function,…increased urine production, and altered mood and sleep patterns.” These same affects apply to people who regularly consume caffeine. Here is a great article from the F.D.A. on some of the effects of caffeine on the body, some of which include heart burn, a rise in blood pressure, uneven heart rhythm, and nervousness. Caffeine is generally not beneficial to people who already suffer from high levels of anxiety.
I read one study from Contemporary developments in Nutrition on the effects of caffeine and fetal development. In this study, they followed 16 women who consumed more that 600 mg of caffeine a day during their pregnancy (that’s about seven 8 oz. coffees). Of those 16 babies, 5 were stillborn, 8 were spontaneously aborted, 2 were born prematurely, and 1 had a normal birth. Additionally, babies who have a high amount of caffeine in utero tend to have a lower amount of muscle tone when born than babies who do not.
There are some practical ways that you can make sure that your morning cup o’ Jo doesn’t impact your health in a negative way. First of all, caffeine is a diuretic, which can make you dehydrated, so try to drink a glass of water for every caffeinated beverage that you consume. Since I run on the semester system with school, I tend to take caffeine breaks so as to avoid building up a tolerance. It is most effective for me during times like summer and Christmas break because I don’t need to stay up until the crack of dawn to finish a paper (maybe I’m a procrastinator, but that’s beside the point). But if you can find time every once and a while to cut caffeine out of your diet, it can really benefit you in the long run.
Quick P.S.A. CAFFEINE WILL NOT SOBER YOU UP AFTER DRINKING. DO NOT THINK IT IS SAFE TO DRIVE AFTER ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION BECAUSE YOU HAVE HAD A COFFEE!
Thanks for reading!
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