1. What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant commonly found in coffee, cocoa, or tea trees. This substance works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, keeping us awake, and preventing fatigue. Besides, caffeine also brings many adverse effects to users’ health.
Caffeine, also known as trimethylxanthine, coffeine, theine, mateine, guaranine, methyltheobromine or 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, is a xanthine alkaloid that can be found in coffee varieties , tea, cola nuts, guarana berries and beans. (a small amount) in cocoa beans (from Wikipedia)
The chemical formula of caffeine is: C 8 H 10 N 4 O 2.
Caffeine appears to be a fairly stable molecule in coffee. In other words, it does not appear to combine or interact with other molecules. However, it has an odd characteristic whereby it tends not to follow typical transitions between phases.
So instead of changing from a solid to a liquid to a gas, it often skips the liquid phase and turns directly into a gas – a process called sublimation. Sublimation for caffeine can begin at 178°C. So this is considered one of the compounds that are very stable to heat, and have the least loss in the roasting process .
2. Harmful effects of caffeine
2.1 Addictive caffeine (CDC, vinmec)
As with other addictive substances, caffeine can become an addictive substance. That’s because regular, sustained caffeine consumption can lead to changes in your brain’s chemistry.
For example, brain cells may produce more adenosine receptors to compensate for those blocked by caffeine. A higher intake of receptors requires consuming more caffeine to achieve the same amount for the same “caffeine fix.” This explains why regular coffee drinkers will become increasingly addicted to coffee.
On the other hand, abruptly cutting off the caffeine supply leaves the brain with a plethora of receptors for adenosine to bind to. This can create an exhausting feeling. Regular coffee drinkers are at risk of experiencing brain changes and becoming dependent on caffeine.
For now, experts aren’t sure how long it takes for your body and brain to adapt to a daily dose of caffeine.
However, experts say that if you detox from caffeine, symptoms such as lack of concentration, drowsiness, and irritability may appear as little as 12-24 hours after the last dose of caffeine. This condition can last up to 9 days.
Alternatively, these signs could also reduce your daily caffeine intake to just 100 mg – the equivalent of one cup of coffee a day. The severity of symptoms usually peaks within the first two days and subsides after that.
2.2 Caffeine causes insomnia (effect)
The body can absorb and eliminate caffeine quickly. They will be processed mainly through the liver; some caffeine will stay in the body for several hours. For most coffee users, having a cup or two in the morning doesn’t interfere with sleep at night.
However, consuming caffeine late in the day can interfere with your sleep. Most people won’t experience sleep disturbances if they don’t drink caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime. Everyone’s sensitivity will vary, depending on your metabolism and how much caffeine you regularly receive. People who are more sensitive to caffeine may experience insomnia and experience the side effects of caffeine, insomnia but also experience the side effects of caffeine, causing stress and digestive upset.
2.3 Caffeine affects pregnancy
Many studies show that consuming a moderate amount of caffeine (one cup of coffee per day) does not affect pregnant women.
However, regular consumption of more than 200mg of caffeine can put pregnant women at higher risk of miscarriage and can cause several effects such as:
- Difficulty conceiving
- congenital disabilities
- Premature birth
Pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant should consume less than 200mg of caffeine per day.
In addition, caffeine also causes several adverse health effects. Caffeine increases the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. A moderate daily amount of caffeine – about 300mg, or three cups of coffee, is unlikely to be harmful to most healthy adults. However, some people are more susceptible to its effects, including those with high blood pressure or older.
- Osteoporosis caused by caffeine use:
At high levels (more than 744 milligrams/day), caffeine can increase the risk of calcium and magnesium loss in the urine. But recent studies show it doesn’t increase the risk of bone loss, especially if your body is getting enough calcium. You can make up for the calcium lost from drinking one cup of coffee by adding two tablespoons of milk. Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine on calcium metabolism.
- Cardiovascular disease and caffeine:
Mild, temporary increases in heart rate and blood pressure are expected in people sensitive to caffeine.
3. Benefits of caffeine
Caffeine has several research-proven health benefits. A study out of France even showed a slower decline in cognitive ability in women who consumed caffeine. Other benefits may include reducing headaches. Some patients with asthma also benefit from caffeine.
Additionally, unlike most other addictive substances, consuming caffeinated coffee can provide specific health benefits, including:
- Improves brain function: Drinking coffee regularly can improve alertness. It may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Improved mood: The risk of depression and suicide is lower in people who regularly use coffee or caffeine.
- Boost your metabolism: Daily caffeine consumption can increase your metabolism up to 11% and burn fat up to 13%
- Enhance exercise performance: Caffeine can increase fatigue tolerance, improve exercise performance, and make your workouts feel more accessible.
- Fights heart disease and diabetes: Regular consumption of caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in some people.
Although caffeine has certain benefits, consuming high amounts of caffeine can cause many side effects. More research is needed to confirm both its benefits and potential risks definitively.
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