Move over, water and oxygen. It's time to give some love to the world's most popular beverage and drug: caffeine. Yes, you read right. For those of you that don't know, caffeine is a drug. It falls into the stimulant category and is used to treat conditions such as ADHD, asthma, and headaches, only to name a few.
Don’t you love coming across that perfect tasting cup, only to shortly after-feel that jolt of energy soon after drinking your morning cup of coffee or the afternoon pick-me-up from an energy drink? Has this beverage become part of your daily routine? How do you ensure that your caffeine intake doesn’t become too much for your body?
Well, these are all excellent questions, and rest assured that caffeine is, in fact, a naturally occurring plant product, most notably found in coffee beans. Odd fact, but did you know there are various coffee beans digested and defecated from certain animals such as monkeys or elephants? I am not making this stuff up, and the interesting part is that it is costly. So next time you are in the mood for something tangy, you have that option…
You’re about to embark on a journey that will take you through all there is to know about this powerful stimulant. We’ll start with the basics – what is caffeine, and what are its uses? From there, we’ll move on to the health benefits associated with caffeine consumption (spoiler alert: they’re many). Once you have a good understanding of how caffeine can improve your life, we’ll talk about ways to keep your intake in balance. And finally, we’ll discuss some healthier alternatives to coffee and tea if you’re looking for a change of pace.
How does caffeine work?
Anyway, I am getting sidetracked. Back to business, caffeine enters our bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and quickly travels to the brain, where it blocks adenosine receptors.
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel tired. So when we drink caffeine, it prevents adenosine from binding to its receptors, making us feel more alert. Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system and heart rate, which is why it’s considered a stimulant drug.
As I am sure you can imagine, some controversy comes with such a popular drug. There are many pros and cons to caffeine consumption, and it depends on the person as to how their body will react. Some people feel great after drinking coffee or energy drinks, while others get anxiety, jitters, or headaches. This is why it is so important to listen to your body and pay attention to the signs it is giving you. Or, or you can take the bold approach and drink until you can’t anymore and see how your body responds then…This option may have you rushing to the restroom as coffee is a diuretic and causes increased urination if consumed in high doses.
Another thing to consider is that caffeine is a drug, and like all drugs, it can be addictive. This means that you may find yourself needing more and more caffeine to achieve the desired effects. If this sounds like you, it’s important to start weaning yourself off of caffeine slowly so as not to experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, and fatigue.
Now that we have gone over some of the basics surrounding caffeine, let’s explore some of the health benefits of this drug.
What are the health benefits of coffee?
It’s no surprise that caffeine has been shown to improve mental alertness and increase physical stamina. It can also help to improve mood and reduce stress levels. Have you ever had a cup before a workout? My word, it can sure put a pep in your step!
This little cup of brown gold has also been shown to improve cognitive function and memory, which is why it’s often used by students cramming for exams. I mean, you will not be the next Albert Einstein, but it may help you remember where you put your keys. Even some evidence suggests caffeine may reduce the risk of certain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. However, more research is needed in this area.
Another benefit of caffeine is its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are essential because they help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage our cells, leading to diseases such as cancer. This is not a cure by any means, but it is one more line of defense against infection and your common cold. Try adding some chaga to the next cup to supercharge those antioxidant properties!
What does caffeine do to the brain?
Well, now that we know a bit of what it does to our body, let’s move on to how this drug affects the brain. As mentioned before, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, preventing us from feeling tired. It also stimulates the central nervous system and heart rate. This combination can be a powerful tool for increasing productivity and motivation. I mean, you will not become the next Anthony Robbins by any means by sipping on coffee all day, but it can help summon the drive needed to get things done. Just remember, moderation is key! As is anything in life, too much of a good thing can be detrimental to your health. Except meeting the right partner, then you can never have too much of a good thing. More on that here.
Caffeine can also increase dopamine levels in the brain, associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness. This is why many people enjoy drinking coffee or tea regularly. It just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. In short, this beverage will(to varying degrees) enhance your mood, cognitive function, physical stamina, and productivity, creativity. Doesn’t the previous sentence come across as one of those infomercials that talk super fast about a product’s features and how it will change your life in some way?
Bear in mind that there are some adverse side effects to caffeine consumption that should be considered. We will go over those in a second.
How much caffeine is too much?
This is where we get into the adverse side effects. Drinking too much will not only make you feel like crap, but it can also be harmful to your health. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, jitters, headaches, and even increased heart rate and blood pressure. It can also lead to dehydration, which we discussed earlier is a potential issue with coffee. A good rule of thumb is for every cup of coffee, and you should have two cups of water to offset the diuretic effect.
As with anything, moderation is key. Too much of a good thing can quickly become offsetting. The key is to find balance and moderation. Drinking one or two cups of coffee a day is not going to kill you, but downing eight Red Bulls is probably not the best idea either.
So how much is too much? Well, that answer depends on the person. Everyone’s body will react differently to caffeine, so paying attention to how you feel after consuming it is essential. If you start feeling anxious or jittery, you may be drinking too much. Try cutting back a little and see if that helps.
What are the different sources of caffeine?
By now, you are probably tired of seeing the word coffee. I get it. Coffee is an excellent source of caffeine but let’s be a little more diverse here. Caffeine is found in many different sources, not just coffee. Some other good sources of caffeine include tea, such as black tea, green tea, guarana, mate, and yerba mate. Believe it or not, chocolate is also a source of caffeine, though it is not as potent as coffee. Dark chocolate has the most caffeine and is packed with good old antioxidants.
Tea is another excellent source of caffeine, and it comes in many different varieties. Green tea is a good option if you are looking to get antioxidants’ health benefits and your caffeine buzz. Matcha green tea is an even better choice because it contains L-theanine, which is sure to give you the boost you need.
Black tea is an excellent middle ground between coffee and green tea. It has more caffeine than green tea but less coffee. If you are looking for something to give you a little bit of energy without making you feel jittery, then black tea is a good choice.
If you are looking for an alternative to coffee or tea, there are plenty of options out there. Energy drinks are a popular choice for many people. Still, they are often loaded with sugar and other ingredients that can harm your health. If you are looking for a healthier option, try kombucha or sparkling water infused with fruit juice.
If you are looking for a brand that’s flavor and quantity of caffeine appeal to you, then there is no shortage of varieties to choose from, my friend. Brands like Death Wish Coffee, Black Insomnia, and Kickapoo Joy Juice are good examples. These coffees have around 700mg of caffeine per 12 fluid ounces. Most energy drinks have about 100mg of caffeine per can to put that into perspective. So if you are planning on climbing Mount Everest looking for a real pick-me-up, these coffees will do the trick.
Did you know?
- Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. That’s right; more people consume caffeine than alcohol or marijuana. Crazy, right?
- The term “A cup of Joe” comes from the early 1900s when coffee was America’s sailors ‘ drink of choice since alcohol was banned on navy ships.
- The most pricey cup is fashioned from… Kopi Luwak, coffee beans that have been eaten and digested by a civet, a small mammal found in Asia. The excrement is collected, cleaned, and roasted. A cup of this coffee may cost up to $80!
So, to sum it all up, caffeine is a great beverage to consume for many reasons. It can help improve your mood, cognitive function, physical stamina, productivity or help make a pit stop at the restroom. Just remember to drink it in moderation and stay hydrated. Now go out and enjoy that cup of coffee guilt-free! Just remember to drink responsibly.
We’re going to change the world! I know it may sound lofty, but this effort toward empowerment, education, and inspiration is something that needs your help. It might even give you a little inspiration on what we can achieve when working together as one team towards our goals.
So please share our article with friends/family members who could benefit from reading it. The first step usually isn’t easy; however, thanks for being part of my journey, and keep in mind that the best is yet to come.
Looking for more ways to stay energized and productive? Check out our other blog posts that are sure to give you a boost.
Share your advice in the comments section below. This has been “The Many Wonders of Caffeine: What It Is, What It Does, and How to Keep it in Balance” I hope it was helpful.
Bidel, S. and Tuomilehto, J., 2022. The Emerging Health Benefits of Coffee with an Emphasis on Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.